This is, quite possibly, the greatest musical starting point in the history of music. An album that can be appreciated by both older listeners as well as children, it is the finest educational musical experience one can find. Mike Oldfield was only 17 years of age when he began writing what would become this landmark album, recording all the instruments by himself (except for some drum parts on side two). The result was a groundbreaking recording: Tubular Bells. Once the recordings were finished, Mike Oldfield took the finished product to various recording companies and was turned down until Richard Branson of Virgin records took him on and began both men’s very successful careers. Having said all of this, the album present has been a huge part of western culture, in particular, also being widely used in the horror film The Exorcist. With all these amazing facts and interesting history, let’s examine the album itself, which is a song on each side of the album. This should be very interesting listening indeed.
Tubular Bells – Pt. 1 is the first side of the album. It begins with some repeated piano riffs, quickly followed by some spacey and other layered textures. This instantly sounds really cool and exciting, very catchy indeed. A really inspired and gorgeous melody, some bass guitar then enters. This is pure musical gold and sounds incredibly exciting and interesting. Some flashes of other sounds enter, as this piece progresses very nicely. All in all, this is an exciting journey through sound. Extra layers of sounds and other instrumentation enter to make this piece come alive. Even for those who do not dig Progressive Rock music, this is a really brilliant listen. Layers of wall-of-sound gradually build up here, and the whole thing sounds amazingly grandiose. Some awesome guitar parts join in the exciting experience and this eventually builds up into a very awesome climax. A picturesque and artistic listening experience, this does sound amazing. Some loose guitar parts are played here, and there is a gorgeous mixture of Spanish guitar and other instrumentation here. Understandably, this is Progressive Rock, but very interesting and beautiful music at that. A pretty piano figure enters, launching this tune into the next section. Some interesting guitars and basslines then enter, which are nicely edited and cut up for the release. These are interesting and nicely melodic, with a tastefulness and beauty that is original. The next section has some unusual sounds which are difficult to hear exactly what instrument it is being played. Nonetheless, it works. A very decent and interesting sound section, this quickly concludes. Soon enough, an acoustic guitar led section emerges and some varied and pretty instrumentation match the strange acoustic guitar playing. Organ styled keyboard enters, along with more edited piano parts. This is extremely different and pretty sounding, with layers of gorgeous guitar and piano meshed together. Soon enough, some intricate keyboard sounds and melodies enter that sound excellent. Some gorgeous guitar playing then enters, which is absolutely surreal and pretty. A thoroughly awesome and enjoyable listening experience, this launches into a sublime midsection that sounds amazingly pretty. This sounds a little moody but is still really great and decent to listen to. This is sensational music and has a great deal of gorgeousness and excitement about it. Soon enough in the right channel is some acoustic guitar, along with some more piano playing in the left channel. Some muted pedal steel sounding slide guitar enters, and this piece sounds very King Crimson styled. A wonderful and joyous listen, this is deeply suspenseful. A really pretty and explorational tune to listen to, the somewhat muted pedal steel guitar work here is sensational. The midsection here sounds really gorgeous and amazing. Yes, this is Progressive Rock based music, but it sure sounds great. Soon enough, the whole melodic structure changes completely and this song launches into a piano led piece with fairly deep sounding male harmonies. This is purely great music. Soon enough, some electric guitar riffing enters and this tune gets rocking. A really entertaining and joyful listen, this is gradually replaced by other acoustic guitars and melodies. The melodic and rhythmic suspenseful build-up of this song is a truly delightful experience. This leads into a section with beautiful clock style chimes. It begins to dissolve into a really pretty acoustic guitar led section that sounds fresh and brilliant. A very nice and solidly pretty listening experience that takes you places, this quickly morphs into an enjoyable electric guitar jam with muted guitar parts. Very catchy though. A brilliant and lovely tune to hear, this has some very decent and pretty melodicism about it. Very brilliant and memorable. Soon into the looped electric guitar parts emerges a very Pink Floydian keyboard sound in the background, which sounds warm and gentle. An excellent and interesting listen, without a doubt. The music is the key, and the music on this album is excellent. A fresh and cool listen, the music takes you places here. Soon enough, Mike Oldfield begins his spoken word entrance of instruments, beginning with the grand piano. This is, indeed, a pretty sounding grand piano. This is followed by a keyboard patch based reed melody, and then glockenspiel. Very exciting. Bass guitar enters which is excellent, followed by double speed guitar and eventually dual distorted guitars. Brilliant. Mandolin then enters as well, along with Spanish and Acoustic guitar. Ingenious, Mike Oldfield knows music better than most. Tubular Bells then follow as well. A gorgeous and joyous listening experience that moves one both emotionally and intellectually, this is a fine and fantastic listening experience. Keyboard gospel vocals are present here, followed by pretty acoustic guitar to conclude. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Mike Oldfield certainly does impress, a lively recording indeed. The track ends with some simple notes before a final chord strum concludes this. Brilliant.
Tubular Bells – Pt. II is, of course, the second half of this record. It begins with some nicely played guitar harmonics and playing, along with some good bass guitar work. Multitracked guitars are present here to take your mind elsewhere. This is a very lovely and pretty listen. Soon enough, some vocal harmonies enter that are really fantastic and listenable. A really awesome listen that sounds very Led Zeppelin esque, it quickly builds up with pretty and dynamic instrumentation to enjoy, including Mandolin. A wonder and a joy to hear, the music present is exciting and refreshing. Layers of sound are present here and this track is way ahead of its time. A very nice piece of wall-of-sound orchestrated guitar led music, this is nothing but amazing and fantastic. A great and pretty listening experience throughout. This is the sort of guitar based music that one can close their eyes to and relax if needed. All the same, this is a joyful and incredible tune. It flows wonderfully and naturally as a piece of music. The simple musical jam here continues on very nicely for some time, and it does sound gorgeous and incredible. A very gentle and refreshing listen, it changes tempo and structure after the five minute mark, which is indeed, very cool. A genuinely exciting and memorable listen, this pulls apart anything that fellow Progressive Rock competitors at the time were playing. A simple and enjoyable listen, the acoustic guitars present become increasingly prominent after some time, which is very cool. Lovely and artistic, the mixture of acoustic guitars and keyboard makes this tune become more exciting as it approaches the midsection. Soon enough, some Mandolin styled shredding and female backing vocals enter, making this piece sound very surreal. An amazing and pretty piece of music and musicality. Some weird keyboard then enters here, signalling a musical change in this tune. A really fine and wonderful piece of music to listen to, this sounds pseudo-Classical in its intentions. A pretty and interesting song to listen to. This is high British culture and art mixed together onto an LP. Soon enough, a gorgeous Greensleeves styled keyboard melody section and pounding Classical styled percussion are present in this tune. As we approach the middle of this piece of music, there is an interesting build-up of sound and structure, particularly with the percussion. Soon enough, this launches into an excellent jam section with some really weird vocals. Some extra piano then enters, and we are into jam based song territory here. A really nice and decent jam section that owes quite a bit to Pink Floyd, there are some cool screaming guitars throughout this particular part. The guitar riffs are extraordinary and amazing and can induce headbanging here. We enter into the second half of this side of the record with some amazing and listenable sounds that are joyful and incredibly upbeat. Extremely catchy, this is one of those records and listening experiences you will forever treasure. Returning to the nonsensical vocal section present, the music on this album is really sensational. The random vocals are really weird, though. For a crazy jam, it also works very well here. This second half of the song is incredibly weird, yet satisfying. The guitars abruptly stop and some organ enters, followed by some clean and pretty guitar parts that sound excellent. A very lovely and refreshing listen, this is gorgeously and intricately played in general. Very difficult to dismiss the genius of this music for a 17-year-old musical prodigy. Nonetheless, this is stunning. A thoroughly great and listenable instrumental section, this sounds moving and captivating. There are some expertly played Fender Stratocaster styled sounds here, which are really worth your time and amazing. Different scales and arpeggios are played here, with the guitar parts simply fluttering over the top of it all. A really excellent listening experience, this is guitar God bliss. Soon enough, the guitars stop, leaving the organ and bass guitar to play along. A fine and fantastic piece of music that is timeless, this does sound mega cool. Towards the end of this 23 minute piece are more guitar parts that interlock and are intertwined together gloriously. Soon enough, a melodic keyboard melody enters towards the end here, which sounds really amazing. The keyboards abruptly conclude, followed by joyful plucked Mandolin styled sounds and a quirky melody. This track concludes very nicely here, and it does sound pretty and amazing. It increases in tempo until the logical conclusion of this track, which is a great one. A must hear.
Tubular Bells works on a variety of levels: intellectually; musically; emotionally and in many other ways. This is a great, great album that deserves to be heard for the experience present and is especially good for children and young people who are getting into music. This was an unexpected success that launched Mike Oldfield and Richard Branson’s careers into the public spotlight. Mike Oldfield never toured this album but did a single night performance of the album on BBC in late 1973. This album is a must hear and something that definitely should be in your record collection. Seek it out today.