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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 September 2009
Upon seeing this at first I was furious. How many more times was I going to be tricked into buying this damn album?!? BUT, this time they changed it up and not only included everything (CD/DVD-A on 2 discs, 1 dvd), BUT they unearthed the HOLY GRAIL of Mike Oldfield...that is the BBC performance of Tubular Bells Pt.1 LIVE on a soundstage!

I had seen 5 minutes of a real bad bootleg VHS tape of this and was excited by it...imagine my surprise when seeing the found re-master of it! Seeing and hearing Steve Hillage, Fred Frith, Mick Taylor(!), Mike Ratledge, Karl Jenkins and Jimmy Hastings (those are the guys I can pick out) play this piece is very special.

Plus, Mike has had a go at re-mixing the whole album as well...brings certain parts to light while ignoring some of the charm of the original mix...cool, not too shabby. Nothing too extreme, just level and effect choices are different.

Say what you will about Mike, his interviews surrounding this release don't paint him in any sort of "rock lore" limelight, but this was an inspired piece recorded and released at a time that can never be duplicated.
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on 3 August 2009
I guess very few people will buy this who don't already have an earlier CD copy. For those few who don't, there is a copy of the original 1973 stereo album (Disc 2) as well as the 2009 stereo mixes of the album plus the Single/Sailors hornpipe (Disc 1). Disc 3 (labelled Disc 4 for some bizarre reason!) contains the 5.1 version plus the original TOTP live performance on DVD. I would have paid the price of the set for this last disc alone. There is also a detailed and informative booklet tucked away inside the opening cover.

It is without doubt excellent value for money. I can't think why anyone would wish to spend nearly £60 quid for the `ultimate' edition when this is available for less than £12 (unless a couple of plectrums and a vinyl copy of the original floats your boat).

One of my abiding memories of my teenage years is hearing this music for the first time in 1973 and I have loved it ever since. A highlight of my university years happened in 1977 when Mike Oldfield granted Paul Egan and a motley bunch of us students in Trinity College Dublin permission to put on a live concert of Tubular Bells. As far as I remember this was the first time a live performance had been staged other than the TOTP version in 1973. Being part of this performance cemented my love for this album.

Listening to the 5.1 surround sound version gave the odd sensation of being back in the middle of the orchestra (as we pretentiously called ourselves at the time). Familiar themes sounded `new' and crisp and everything seems fresh and bright. The opening 10 minutes is the most impressive and the bass line (subdued in some recordings in the past) really packs a punch. I was slightly disappointed in the last section of this track - what used to be the end of side one in the vinyl years - as the vocals ("Plus Tubular Bells") seemed to be a bit lost in the mix and the overall sound seemed a bit muddy compared to the stereo mix. But this could be my equipment and might sound more impressive on a higher quality set up.

But these are minor quibbles: This is an excellent buy, very reasonable for what it contains, and a must for any serious fan of this classic album.
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2008
Yet another version of 1970 classic album Tubular Bells. Did a young Mike Oldfield ever imagine how seminal his album would become ?
Although the cynics amongst us will inevitably denigrate the recording of yet another version.Those who find those opening bars uplifting and spine tingling will enjoy the latest incarnation arranged by Marcel Bergman who also performs with Elizabeth Bergman and Jeroen and Sandra Van Veen.
Performed on piano and synth, TB 2008 is very much in the traditional vein. No outlandish departures from the original and overall sounding rather nice !
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2009
Despite my young age (I'm 22) I have been a huge admirer of Mike Oldfield for many years and was introduced to his music, perhaps unsurprisingly, via "Tubular Bells". Many things have been said about this piece of music, about its brilliance, etc. And I concur with this. "Tubular Bells" is not only one of Mike Oldfield's best compositions but it remains to be one of music's best compositions ever.

With this re-release it may be said that this is simply the flogging of a dead horse and I do agree with this sentiment to some degree. However, the fact that that "Tubular Bells" has never sounded as good as this, that the re-mastering has really benefited the composition without changing the tone and feel and that Mike Oldfield has taken a great deal of care over this re-release I think justifies this products existence.

Furthermore, no one is forcing you to purchase this, although I can understand that it can be rather annoying when you have something and then a better version is put out. However, I feel that such sentiments are down to you and I and when reviewing this should be ignored (to some extent). The fact is, and what should be focused on, is that this is a fantastic release and it has helped me to discover the wonder of this music all over again.

Not only do we have "Tubular Bells" sounding excellent but we also have for the first time on CD, "Mike Oldfield's Single" and the full "Sailor's Hornpipe" with Viv Stanshall giving us a wonderful (albeit, drunken) tour of The Manor (the place this album was originally recorded).

I honestly think, that with how good the entire album sounds, this re-release is fully justified and if you decided to purchase it you will not be disappointed (certainly if you are buying this album for the first time and even if you have already got it).
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on 7 August 2012
So much has already been written about Tubular Bells so I'll keep this simple.

This release is not a reworking in the style of Tubular Bells II or III, it's simply a reamstering of the original 1973 classic with a few subtle and worthwhile mix alterations. The remastering process is in fact so sucessful I think this is now the definitive version. I am struggling to think of a more effective remastering. All the hiss and bass rumble is gone and we are left with a warm, luxurious sound that is absolutely beautiful.

On this record you will find little flourishes left off the original release all together and the overall effect, for me anyway, was that I fell in love with Tubular Bells all over again!

So what of the extras that make this a deluxe release. Well you also receive the original 1973 mix just in case, for some bizarre reason, you dislike the new master and mix. The single version (Mike Oldfield's single) and the Sailor's Hornpipe featuring Viv Stanshall are stunning and humorous but do come with the standard release. Disc 3 contains a 5.1 surround sound version for those with 5 ears presumably! The real treat is a live 1975(?) BBC DVD performance featuring such luminary guitarists of the time as Steve Hillage, Mick Taylor and Fred Frith with Karl Jenkins on keys.

All these new remasters has rejuvinated my love for Oldfield's music and has led me to the discovery of an album called Mohribold by an emerging musician called Andrew Taylor (plug that into your search engine!). He is an artist who must have listened to Oldfield's early albums in great detail, though he clearly has a flare all of his own too. Both Oldfield and Taylor are talented multi-intrumentalists, if you love Tubular Bells you'll love Mohribold.
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In the first half of 1973 - two chart-annihilating vinyl albums signalled a huge move away from 7" single-driven Rock to something longer and stronger – Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side Of The Moon" which landed on our doorsteps 1 March 1973 – and Mike Oldfield's Virgin Records debut LP "Tubular Bells" which hit Blighty racks in its gorgeous and highly distinctive 'Bells and Sea' sleeve on 25 May 1973. Both albums have had longevity beyond the wildest dreams of either artist and with the hindsight of more than 40 years – remain iconic and still amaze.

Having said that - fans have had their fair-share of CD reissues for Mike Oldfield's densely overdubbed, side long instrumental musical soundscapes (the HDCD version in 2000 was one) – but this 2009 'Deluxe Edition' which offers Audio and Video finally does that tape consuming beasty a solid. Here are the Sailor's Hornpipes...

UK and USA released 8 June 2009 – "Tubular Bells: Deluxe Edition" by MIKE OLDFIELD on Universal/Mercury 270 354-1 (Barcode 0602527035413) is a 2CD/1DVD Reissue and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 – "The 2009 Stereo Mixes by Mike Oldfield" (56:02 minutes):
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)

BONUS TRACKS:
3. Mike Oldfield's Single (A-side of a UK 7" single released June 1974 on Virgin VS 101. The original B-side "Froggy Went A Courtin'" (despised by Oldfield) is not on this reissue.

4. Sailor's Hornpipe (Original Version with Viv Stanshall) – Recorded in The Manor Studios in Oxfordshire in Spring 1973 – first appeared as part of "Collaborations" – the 4th LP in the 4LP "Boxed" Set UK issued October 1976 on Virgin VBOX 1.

Disc 2 – "The Original 1973 Stereo Album Mix" (48:48 minutes):
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
Tracks 1 and 2 and Side 1 and the LP "Tubular Bells" – released 25 May 1973 in the UK and USA on Virgin V 2001

Disc 3 – DVD (All Regions) – 2009 5.1 Surround Sound Mixes by Mike Oldfield
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
3. Mike Oldfield's Single
4. Sailor's Hornpipe (Original Version with Viv Stanshall)

Visual Content
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
First broadcast as part of the series "2nd House" on BBC 2 – 1st December 1973

The glossy gatefold digipak has been well thought out – each flap with interesting memorabilia – the pregnant lady advert from the Zigzag newspaper advertising the birth of new 'Virgin Releases' – master tape boxes from CBS and BASF and a very well endowed 24-page booklet on the history of the album and its aftermath by Tape Engineer and Music Historian MARK POWELL. You get pictures of The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire – Oldfield with Kevin Ayers & The Whole World (circa 1970/1971), snaps of Producer Tom Newman and a camera-shy Richard Branson along with the ever present mixing desk and Oldfield surround as always by six million instruments.

MARK POWELL, MIKE OLDFIELD and PASCHAL BYRNE are the team of three that has handling the tapes with care because the Audio is gorgeous – clear and warm and full of presence. But I would say that after hearing the 2009 Stereo Version – the original 1973 version does seem a tad flat and more hissy – but the DVD 5.1 version that I've heard on a mate's sound system is simply awesome (far better that the Quadrophonic LP experience in 1974). The "Mike Oldfield Single" (issued in a "Tubular Bells Theme" picture sleeve in the UK June 1974) is based on the Celtic Tympani section on Side 2 with Oldfield having added Oboe and other instruments. And of course the use of the opening piano refrain in the horror movie of the moment "The Exorcist" gave the album considerable exposure and made that piece of music synonymous with the LP for decades to come.

When the first portion of Side One settles into that Acoustic Guitar around 4:07 only to crescendo a few seconds later – the effect is incredible. And those doubled-up high string guitars at 11:30 minutes leap out of the speakers only to be followed by the HUGE rock guitar piece. It all leads towards the layer-after-layer-of-instruments preceded by Viv Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band acting as 'Master Of Ceremonies' as he introduces each instrument in that wonderfully posh and eclectic voice of his – magic. Fans will love those warbling guitars at 8:02 on Side 2 – the girly vocals mixing with the notes to beautiful effect – even if that Pilt Down Man voice still sounds decidedly creepy. And you gotta love Vivian Stanshall clearly drunk as a skunk on the original version of "Sailor's Hornpipe" as he discusses a painting in the Manor at some ungodly hour in the morning - deliberately slurring his words by the time he gets to the end (God bless him).

I wasn't expected the DVD to be so engaging. Never mind the 5.1 Surround Mix that really leaves the Quad LP from the 'Boxed' set in 1976 in the dust – the performance of the December 1973 concert is an absolute blast (if not a little ramshackle in places). A group of seven musicians are seated in dimly lit silhouette as the piano refrain starts (with a huge Showcase logo behind them). But then as they zoom in and the lights go on – we see Oldfield seated with his Bass Guitar and stripy shirt looking decidedly uncomfortable (grin and bear it baby). Unfortunately there are no credits at the end so you can't tell who the other six musicians are – but with guitars in their hands and other instruments – Side 1 becomes this strange entirely different entity 'live' - where their guitar flicks and piano flourishes differ wildly in some cases from his. A chorus of ladies join them for the acoustic fade out. They even try some ropey water footage in the centre of it as the bells shimmer. The image does get a tad blurry in places in that Seventies kind of way – but for fans this extra is an absolute treat.

"Hergest Ridge" would follow in 1974 and the wonderful "Ommadawn" in 1975 and thereafter a career that seems to have endlessly rehashed his 1973 magnum opus for every anniversary since. A great 'Deluxe Edition' and a milestone in Rock Music's history...
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on 8 June 2009
Others, elsewhere, have recently paid £60+ for scarcely any more than has been brought out in this set, for a fifth of the price. They mostly seem unimpressed. However, for sensible money, this 3 disc set (ignore Amazon saying it is 2) is a bit of fun, and good value.

It's clearly a cut down assemblage of the expensive four disc package, 'cos the 5.1 surround sound DVD is actually labelled "Disc 4". Disc 2 contains stock copies of the original 1973 album. You probably won't have bought this set for these. It's the 2009 "remix", and the 5.1 surround sound tracks on the DVD that you'll have been after.

I chased up a copy of a surround sound version of the original album allegedly issued a few years ago, eventually baulking at the price (£90 or more from some dealers). I'm therefore pleased that something has become available at a far more accessible price.

And I like it. As remixes go, it's fairly subtle - instruments brought further up in the mix at key points, and things like that. On my system (not expensive by any means), it is generally crisp, with masses of small detail even the most avid fan won't really have heard before. Oldfield has exercised a very light remixer's touch, and while one could quibble endlessly about whether this instrument or that one should have had more, or less, prominence at any given point, it's down to the artist at the end of the day.

Speaker separation, all important to the surround sound fan, is very good. The very deep organ notes come at you through your feet, too!

The Viv Stanshall Sailor's Hornpipe is an indulgent piece of fun, and it's good to have a decent copy of the 1973 BBC2 "live broadcast", but for me, these are embellishments to now having a decent 5.1 version of one of the best albums ever.
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on 26 October 2013
Verdict: A good package.
Both CDs sound fine it being hard to quantify the difference between the original 1973 and remixed or re-mastered 2009 version - maybe the 1973 mix has been cleaned up.
The surround 5.1 is generally good, done by Oldfield who ought to know how it should be. The DVD has only 5.1 sound on it. WARNING: 'Part 1' has a very high level sub woofer channel (the 0.1 channel) which could damage your hearing unless you adjust your equipment (ie. reduce the level or turn it off) - the bass frequency vibration is disturbingly way over anything else I have, DVD or SACD, at my normal setting. It fills your ears. Ridiculous. 'Part 2' and the other tracks are fine.
Perhaps inevitably with such a popular album the surround is in the lowest common denominator format: DVD and Dolby 5.1, but DTS could have been better. It reveals less complexity to this multilayered recording than I expected and perhaps is not quite the 'whole sonic experience' the format can deliver - but it reveals crisp clarity and separation, you can hear everything and it's fine ('part 1' comment aside). What Steven Wilson might have done with the tapes in whatever state they were in will nevertheless hover in my mind. The screen-saver style visuals are initially impressive but get irritating when you notice the joins and repetition; and they are the same for all tracks, just cutting off at the end according to the track timing.
The five star extra is the 1973 BBC 'live' version which is simply splendid (stereo only, but with video of the performance); there are no credits and no personnel list. You have to play spot the musician.
So why did I buy this (yet again)? Some background will explain.
This was originally released on 15 May 1973 and I had my copy soon enough to see the only live performance at the QE Hall on 25 June 1973. Not that there was an inkling it would be the only time it was publicly performed. I still have the concert handout listing performers and reproducing an article by John Peel: "a record that does quite genuinely cover new and uncharted territory". It is hard to appreciate now what an impact this made on first release, it was radically different. Oldfield has said that the performance included off tuning (not that anyone noticed as it was just such an great event with so many 'underground scene' musicians), but it went down very well and I vividly recall how Viv Stanshall dramatically miscued the instrument introductions. Many of those musicians turn up on the BBC performance (Viv Stanshall is safely on tape).
I still have the vinyl and was blissfully unaware of all the other versions having only got a second hand early CD of parts 1 & 2 some 25 years later. Hence this 3 disc package offered me genuine extras (a) the short extra tracks from what now seems to be the 'standard' CD edition, and (b) the real reasons for purchase: the 5.1 surround version and the BBC performance unknown to me until I saw it on BBC4 in October 2013 (when it had credits but still no personnel list).
Accordingly I was wedded to the original version rather than re recordings etc, but even if you've never heard Tubular Bells before this is the version to get. The BBC performance tells you more than any review.
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on 11 October 2009
I have no 5.1 system, so I limit my observations solely to the remastered stereo version on this boxed set.

I write having again listened to a side by side comparison of my copy of the 1973 orginal against the remastered 2009 and I do not feel I will bother listening to the 2009 version ever again. For me the sound is simply so "tidied up" that it sounds dull - I mean the frequency extremes just don't seem to be there, nor do the more dynamic sections get at all dynamic.

The remastering also has changed the emphasis on the instruments, with the bass far more prominent in many places and, at times, an apparent attempt to simply the sound has meant some instruments disappearing. Since I love the orginal, I admit that it is difficult for me to accept these revisions as in any way an improvement.
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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2009
Does the world need another version of Tubular bells? Since its release we have had the LP (Stereo and Quad), CD, SACD (Including the original QUAD mix) and a remake in 2003 of the whole album as a 5.1 DVDA which included the original demo for `Tubular bells'. Also we should mention `Tubular Bells 2', the `Millennium bell' etc... Now we have a deluxe edition which I hoped would top all previous releases. As an owner of many versions of the above I have found this to be lacking in too many ways. Deluxe editions should be the best quality available releases, and that is where this falls down Quality seems to have been lacking at Universal.

What is good about this set?
A new mix of tubular bells,
A surround mix of the original recording of Tubular bells
The original mix of tubular bells.
The Mike Oldfield single and an original recording of Sailors Hornpipe with Viv Stanshall.
Video of a BBC recording of Tubular bells part 1.

What lets this disc down?
The DVD is inexplicably labelled Disc 4 in a 3 disc set.
The CDS are mastered loud as is the modern way
The new surround mix is only Dolby digital (Lossy) (not DTS acknowledged as better that Dolby in most Quad circles or MLP i.e. lossless).
The third (labelled disc 4) disc does not have its own setting but is tucked inside the cardboard so tight that you need to grip with you fingers rather hard to get it out thus damaging the disc in the process (something Universal seem to have done a lot and been criticised for recently)

For an album which stats on the box not to play this on `old tin cans' to not include a Hi resolution mix seems inexcusable, either an SACD or DVDA of the new stereo and surround mixes should have been included. So this is not a deluxe edition it's far from complete it's a Luxury edition i.e. not needed but nice to have if you are more than a casual fan.

A 5 star Album with stars docked for the above mentioned reasons.
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