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18 December 2008 @ 10:49 am
Another Great English Composer  

Elgar and Vaughan Williams are seen as great English composers: I'd like to add Mike Oldfield to the list. Tubular Bells is a wonderful piece and uplifting in the same way as Pomp & Circumstance No.1 (aka Land of Hope & Glory).

I've just finished Changeling, Mike Oldfield's autobiography. It's the sort of book that makes you want to review your own life - perhaps even write about it. He had a difficult childhood, hated school but loved music and had a residency at Reading Folk Club when he was only twelve (but looked older). Soon afterwards he heard his sister playing Beethoven's Fifth on her record player. He saw music, 'deeply, with crystal clarity. When I listened to a piece of classical music I could see all its components, its parts, and how they fitted together'.

He moved to Pimlico when he was sixteen and joined Kevin Ayer's band, recording at Abbey Road Studios. This was in 1970 and one evening he took LSD which had a profound effect on him. He felt a veil was lifted off and everybody was stripped of everything he'd ever learned about them. This was not a good trip but the beginning of the horrors which pursued him for many years. Over the next few years anesthetizing himself with alcohol or making music were the only things that got him through. He started on Tubular Bells. He'd been given a tape recorder by Kevin and had the use of a Farfisa Organ. One evening he fiddled around on the Farfisa and came up with a repetitive riff that was to be the introduction riff and later became the Exorcist theme.

In his autobiography he writes that,"Tubular Bells gave me a way out. I was so completely into it, the music became the sole, solid purpose of existence, the focus for my entire life." It's hard to believe he was just nineteen when it catapulted him into fame.
hutch0hutch0 on December 18th, 2008 11:09 am (UTC)
I think I'd go along with that. One thing that annoys me is that he remixed Hergest Ridge and now I can't find the original version, which I much preferred, anywhere.
The Stainless Steel Rat: Music (Speaker)stainsteelrat on December 18th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
I seem to have the '76 version, if you're interested in a lossy version.

I'm a huge fan of Mr. Oldfield, albeit mostly his older stuff. He seems to have lost his way of late, unless I've missed something.

Amarok is a *classic*.
sw33tf00lsw33tf00l on December 18th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
Music of the Spheres is his latest :) It's NOT tubular Bells 4 but shares the rhythm :) It made number 1 in the classical charts. I got interested in Mike as my brother listened to it a lot when we were all younger.

TB 2 & 3 are are nice enough:) There are a LOT of remixes out there on the web:)
The Stainless Steel Rat: Music (Speaker)stainsteelrat on December 18th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
I think I may have MotS, but I guess it didn't float my boat much.

I like TB2 a bit, but TB3 was similar to the above as well I suspect.
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
I enjoy Music Of The Spheres now and then and count it as an offshoot of the Tubular Bells series but not in the same league as Tubular Bells or TB II & III. But it does remind me a little of the orchestral version of Tubular Bells which I didn't like at all - any more than Oldfield did.
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
I didn't realise that Music Of The Spheres made it to number 1 in the classical chart. My partner introduced me to Oldfield's music.
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
He cites 'Amorak' as his own favourite and was going to call it Tubular Bells II. [Which I think would have been a mistake] I love Tubular Bells II and III though I think I prefer the original Tubular Bells to the 2003 remix he put out. He felt free to do whatever he wanted on 'Amorak' as it was his last record for Virgin and fulfilled his contractual obligation. I also like Platinum, Hergest Ridge, [which got awful reviews upon release] and 'Ommadawn' but we have all of his music.

I'm not too keen on the record he made based on an Arthur C Clarke book which has the author on it - I've forgotten the name of it for that reason no doubt - Songs From Distant Earth?
hutch0hutch0 on December 18th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
Lossy or not, I would most certainly be interested.
The Stainless Steel Rat: Music (Speaker)stainsteelrat on December 19th, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
It's the version from Boxed, so based on the other comment it might be this remixed version. I can still let you have it though if you would like?
hutch0hutch0 on December 20th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Ah. Yes, very good point. In that case, you'd be sending me the version I already have. But many thanks for offering; I do appreciate that.
The Stainless Steel Rat: Music (Speaker)stainsteelrat on December 20th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
Now I'm interested as to how different this other version is! :-) Do you mind explaining?
hutch0hutch0 on December 20th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Okay. Now I'm beginning to sound weird and obsessed. Even to myself. There's a trumpet solo on side one of Hergest Ridge which, to my mind, was the best thing about that side of the album. When Oldfield remixed the album he lowered it way down in the mix so you can barely hear it or took it out altogether, so that section is all drifty and ambient. It's just my opinion, but I thought that was a mistake.
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC)
I think that the original is available on download, he first remixed it for Boxed didn't he? My partner has the original on vinyl LP
hutch0hutch0 on December 18th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
He remixed the first three albums for Boxed, as I understand it, but he didn't seem to do too much to Tubular Bells and Ommadawn.
ijournalerijournaler on December 19th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
There doesn't seem to be a lot of difference to my ears between the 'Boxed' versions of 'Tubular Bells' and 'Ommadawn' though my partner swears there is if you play them back to back.
hutch0hutch0 on December 20th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Your partner is right; there are differences, although you have to be obsessively-familiar with the pieces to hear them. But he seems to have done most work on side one of Hergest Ridge, particularly mixing down the trumpet solo, which I was rather partial to. My god, I'm a Mike Oldfield geek...
Karenspider_meringue on December 18th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
Conclusion: winnars do drugs.
fiat_knoxfiat_knox on December 18th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
Corollary: drugs make winners.
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oldfield is more ambivalent on his feelings about that.
Benbenicek on December 18th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
I thought Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge were brilliant, but his subsequent output has been mostly feeble.

Don't leave Gustav Holst off that list :)
ijournalerijournaler on December 18th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
I can't agree that the music after Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge have been 'feeble' but he admits that he has never quite recaptured the magic of making the original.

You're right - I shouldn't leave out Holst, or Delius.

Edited at 2008-12-18 07:46 pm (UTC)