The Epic 2017 Project #192: 170711
Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)
Mike Oldfield was just 20 when Virgin records released Tubular Bells in 1973. Richard Branson’s record label wasn’t even a year old though.
It was the first album released by Virgin Records and an early cornerstone of the company’s success. Vivian Stanshall provided the voice of the “Master of Ceremonies” who reads off the list of instruments at the end of the first movement. The opening piano solo was used briefly in the soundtrack to the William Friedkin film The Exorcist (released the same year), and the album gained considerable airplay because of the film’s success.
The following year the piece was orchestrated by David Bedford for The Orchestral Tubular Bells version. It had three sequels in the 1990s, Tubular Bells II (1992), Tubular Bells III (1998) and The Millennium Bell (1999). Finally, the album was re-recorded as Tubular Bells 2003 at its 30th anniversary in 2003. A newly mixed and mastered re-issue of the original album appeared in 2009 on Mercury Records, with bonus material.
For the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Oldfield rearranged segments from Tubular Bells for a segment about the National Health Service. This rendition appears on the soundtrack album, Isles of Wonder, and is included on the official BBC DVD release