Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (Epic 2017 #192)

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

Death in Vegas – Dead Elvis (Epic 2017 #051)

The Epic 2017 Project #051: 170220

Death in Vegas – Dead Elvis (1997)

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Dead Elvis is the band’s debut studio album released on March 10, 1997 in the United Kingdom and on September 16, 1997 in the United States. This was the only Death in Vegas album to feature original member Steve Hellier. The British release features coloured Elvis graffiti on the cover, while the US version features a tattoo artist.

Death in Vegas was formed in 1994 by Richard Fearless and Steve Hellier and signed to Concrete Records under the name of “Dead Elvis”. However, there was an Irish record label of the same name at the time, and Dead Elvis became the title of their first album instead. Rankin Roger’s (of ‘The Beat’ fame) vocals feature throughout the album but most notably on the opening track – ‘All that glitters’ featured here.

Camel – Rajaz (Epic 2017 #030)

The Epic 2017 Project #030: 170130

Camel – Rajaz (1999)

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I’m not going to say anything more about this album other than the word ‘Sahara’. Heard this on a Capital FM show late one night. Loved it but had no idea what it was or who it was by. Frustrating! Then they played it again a week later and this time told me. The album was snapped up the very next day.

‘Sahara’ is one of those tracks that quite simply does it for me. Every time. Can’t really put my finger on what that is. But when the guitar solo kicks in at towards the end, it hits something deep in my stomach and tears come almost event time. It is everything an instrumental need to be. And in absolutely every way. It quite simply is!

Santana – Soul Sacrifice (Leaping Ahead #232)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #232: 160819

[A festival song (2)]

“Soul Sacrifice” is an instrumental written and recorded by the American rock group Santana. Identified as one of the highlights of the 1969 Woodstock festival, itfeatures extended guitar solos by Carlos Santana and a stunning drum solo from Michael Shrive. It was one of the band’s earliest compositions. Carlos Santana recalled the group wrote it when bassist David Brown joined and describes it as

a perfect example of the amalgam of old-world guaguanco rhythms and strictly American licks

Billy Cobham – Stratus (Leaping Ahead #55)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #55: 160224

[A song from a band beginning with C]

Jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham added ‘Stratus’ to his 1973 ‘Spectrum’ album. A tune later sampled many times over, perhaps most notably in Massive Attack’s ‘Safe from Harm’ from their 1991 Blue Lines album.

The Ventures – Walk don’t run (Leaping Ahead #43)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #43: 160212

[A song from 1960]

‘Walk don’t run’ is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. After hearing a Chet Atkins recording of the tune, the Ventures released their version as a single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records. This made the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 2 and reaching number 3 on the Cash Box magazine chart for five weeks in August and September 1960.The band re-recorded the song in 1964 and became the first to score two top ten hits with two versions of the same song.