Acclaimed Albums – Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 342/1000
Title: Tubular Bells
Artist: Mike Oldfield
Year: 1973

When I listened to the beginning of Tubular Bells I, of course, thought about it’s links to horror classic The Exorcist. My husband, well, he was reminded of its use in a children’s programme as a way to mark tension. Talks to the wealth of different experiences we all have I guess… or that maybe he watched suspect things as a kid.

Anyway, Tubular Bells is one of those albums I have been keen to hear for ages both for its connection to a brilliant film but also because of Mike Oldfield’s cover of ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ that is such a Christmastime staple. Now that I have actually listened to it, I cannot believe that this was the debut album of a 19 year old who played pretty much all of the instruments.

19. He was 19 when he made this. It took the better part of a year for him to record all the overdubs and managed to have the vision to pull of this unique landmark album that was unlike anything else in prog rock at the time. Just two tracks, each a whole side long, and yet I didn’t actually feel the length of the album. Sure, it made it harder to weave the tracks between a day of meetings but I made it work somehow.

And that’s the thing about this album. Usually a long concept album like this, which is two tracks more because of the constraints of working with vinyl rather than anything else, is something that would end up boring me a bit. However Tubular Bells is a real journey that just evolves across the two halves. Sure, the Exorcist bit sticks around afterwards but that’s more because of how familiar it is and that it’s the opening bars. It’s a vision that worked and it’s a something that is so hard to think of a 19 year old pulling off near solo.


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