Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells 2003
Despite feeling that it was musically his best work, Mike had long been unhappy with the quality of the 1973 recording of Tubular Bells. The recording had been done in a rush, with most of Part One being recorded in a week’s trial period which Mike had been allowed in The Manor studio by Virgin boss Richard Branson. Part Two was recorded under even more difficult conditions, with Mike being able to use the studio only in periods when no other artists wanted it, meaning that he often could only work for very short periods, or late at night. Despite the fact that the album went on to become a huge selling, classic recording, Mike later complained that the whole thing sounded out of tune, with there having not even been time to tune the guitars, and that he felt the performances were rushed and out of time. The desire to perfect Tubular Bells may be partly what drove Mike to create Tubular Bells II (1992) and III (1998), but he wasn’t able to re-record the original Tubular Bells due to a clause in his contract with Virgin which prevented him from re-recording the album for 25 years after the release of the original album. Come the 30th anniversary in 2003, with the contract recently expired, Mike felt that the time was right to revisit the work and finally do what he wanted with it.
The album was initially recorded into Logic Audio Platinum (v5.3.0) running on a Dual 1GHz Powermac G4 (mirrored drive door model with 1.25 GB RAM, running OS 9 – Mike says 9.4, which doesn’t exist; the latest is 9.2.2), with Digidesign Pro Tools (v5.3.1) being used for various pieces of editing, and to provide the half-speed recording capability needed to create the double speed guitars which were very much a feature of the original Tubular Bells. Material was then transferred to a Fairlight Merlin hard disk recorder, from which tracks were mixed down, via Mike’s Neve Capricorn digital mixing desk.
re on Tubular Bells 2 and 3, the real bells return for Tubular Bells 2003. Used here is the same set (which Mike describes as being like a ‘toy’ set of bells) which Mike sampled for Tubular Bells 2.