This is probably the album that got me really interested in music. I know it was a Christmas present because I remember pestering my Mother for it. This isn’t a pressing from its release date in 1973, but I’d say its no later than 1975. After school I attended a couple of the clubs the teachers ran for something to do. Drama was one, and I ended up in a couple of school plays. Another night we were introduced to records. This album had me right from the beginning. It was so different from all the types of music in the singles charts at the time, and I also felt I was learning about instruments from it. It was later on that I discovered what an icon of a record it actually is.
Mike Oldfield was born in Reading, Berkshire, England in 1953. This is his debut album which was recorded when he was 19. It was issued on the brand new “Virgin Records” label launched by Richard Branson.
Side One opens with a piano section which was featured in the motion picture “The Exorcist”. The music becomes more edgy with electric guitars, organ and then moves to a variation theme. Towards the end of the first side, a master of ceremonies, Viv Stansall, starts to read off the list of instruments. A choral section ends the movement. This includes vocals by Mike Oldfield’s sister Sally Oldfield and Mundy Ellis. I have made a video featuring the ending of side one.
Instruments included are: Grand Piano, Glokenspiel, Farfisa Organ, Bass, Speed, Fuzz, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, Mandolin, Assorted percussion, Flageolet, Honky Tonk, Lowrey Organ and Tubular Bells.
Side Two carries on from side 1, during the middle it becomes more rock and edgy, then bagpipe sounds enter. The piece then builds and moves into unusual sounds described as Piltdown Man section. It then moves in to a quieter section. The album ends where the composition merges into “Sailor’s Hornpipe” (Trad.) and begins with a mandolin playing at a moderately slow tempo, but quickly mutates into a gradually accented piece with multiple instruments ending with two loud, accented notes.
Instruments included are: Electric, Bass, Acoustic, Speed and Spanish Guitars, Farfisa, Hammond and Lowrey Organs, Piano, Concert Tympani, Guitar sounding like bagpipes, and chorus featuring Sally Oldfield and Mundy Ellis.
On the back sleeve is the following statement “This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment, please hand it into the nearest Police station.”
This album is said to have sold between 15 and 17 million, 2.65 million of these in the UK, 700,000 in Australia, and 500,000 in the US. Tubular Bells topped the charts in both the UK and Australia and made #2 in The Netherlands. In the UK Tubular Bells has charted for an incredible 278 weeks.