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Tubular Bells 2003 - why?


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#1 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted May 28 2003 - 07:03 AM

I should begin by saying that I am a huge fan of all Mike Oldfield's instrumental music (though I can happily leave his songs). I got my copy of Tubular Bells 2003 today (it's released in Europe about two weeks before the USA - sorry! Posted Image ).

My question is *why*? It's not that it's bad, because in essence it's the same as the original Tubular Bells. The instruments are more or less identical and the scoring of the instruments is all but identical. There are some minor changes, but nothing all that stunning. Probably the biggest change is that John Cleese does the MC job at the end of Side 1 (and does it v. well, BTW) because of course alas viv Stanshall is no longer with us. The recording sounds clearer in places (the bass when it first comes in is deeper and better defined), but there's nothing utterly different.

I know that Mike wanted to do the piece *exactly right* (something not possible given the compromises inflicted by early 70s technology), and I think we must respect this. However, to most folks, I doubt whether they'll hear anything all that remarkably different. Let's put it this way - my wife, who is not a huge Mike Oldfield instrumental music fan (but who loves the songs; I sometimes wonder how we've stayed married) didn't notice anything all that different, and I doubt if anyone who'd only heard the original piece a couple of times before would notice they were listening to the new rather than original version.

Of course there's the DVD bonus disc, which contains a short video (not v. interesting - a disco mix of TB to some fairly bland images) and 5.1 remixes of a couple of tracks from TB 2003. These are okay, but given the relatively recent release of the Quad mix of the original TB on SACD, the novelty value isn't there.

One thing in its favour - there's a very good-priced boxed set of the TB 2003 plus TB II and III available, for anyone who wants to catch up on their Mike Oldfield collection.

#2 of 11 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 29 2003 - 01:50 AM

I'm glad it's not too different, and would say the reason why is because he can. There are always things you wish you had done differently/better, and being afforded the opportunity to revisit past work allows these things, while often unnoticible by the casual listener, to be corrected or improved.

I'm quite interested in seeing how the new version compares with the old.

#3 of 11 Alan_Horner

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Posted May 29 2003 - 12:59 PM

My copy of The Complete Tubular Bells arrived from England today. Would be turning cartwheels if I knew how! Big fan of Mike Oldfield here, as evidenced by the fact that I was crazy enough to pay for express shipping. My impressions on the set in a minute.

Wanted to respond to the question of "Why?" I thought about this and my initial reaction was that classical pieces are given new performances all the time, so why should this be thought of differently (especially with the improved sonics that 30 years has given us). But then I thought, geez -- what if the Beatles had opted to record Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band again? That would seem realllly wrong, so I guess I don't have a definitive answer.

I'm guessing if you love the original TB, you'll probably have room in your collection for TB2003. The audio quality is really incredible; it's immediately apparent from the first familiar notes that this is a remarkable sounding album. Not surprisingly, it completely blows every other version (which I think I have) away. That's sound-wise, of course. Artistically, Mike has made a few changes here and there to the recording, but I don't think there's any major difference. Some sections have a new take on them, either through slightly altered cadence or just the choice of sound itself. I think Part 2 sounds much better this time out, with a much fuller and balanced approach (the original seems kind of harsh in comparison). There are some disappointments here and there (the original entrance of The Bell near the end of Part 1 was a triumph; it's a bit anticlimactic here), but I definitely love this new recording.

For us Americans who are left with no domestic version (so much for the "worldwide release"): The DVD disc is offered in the PAL format only but has not been encoded with regional restrictions. That means that the video won't display properly on my system, but it also means that I can access the three DVD-A 5.1 tracks that have been included as a bonus. What a treat!!! I'm actually more excited to get hold of the 5.1 version than I was about TB2003 itself. What a wonderful m/c mix that's both aggressive (without driving your ears nuts) and amazingly smooth. The movement of instruments/sound is seamless and the m/c mix really just envelopes you. Yeah!

The packaging of the "complete" TB is a handsome four-disc digipak very much in the style of the Elements box set a few years back. Unfortunately, the cover is ruined by two stickers on the front (I won't even try to take them off lest I ruin the cover). Blechhh. The disc screams "copy protected" at every opportunity, but a quick test converted the files to my iTunes just fine. Of course, the track marks cause interruptions in the iTunes playback (not on the CD itself), so I probably won't be listening to it on the iPod. Still, so much for copy protection.

Whew! Sorry to be so long-winded. Love this disc. Good lord! Maybe Mike will re-record Hergest Ridge or Ommadawn for their 30th anniversaries!

#4 of 11 Alan_Horner

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Posted May 29 2003 - 01:24 PM

Hmmm... just saw this on http://www.musictap.net:
Quote:
Continuing on [August 5] with a title that I'm very interested in is the newest Mike Oldfield album, Tubular Bells 2003
He's talking about the U.S., so good news if it holds up!

#5 of 11 Michael St. Clair

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Posted May 29 2003 - 02:32 PM

FYI, anybody with an XBox will be able to play the R0 PAL content on NTSC displays. Some XBox owners do not know this.

Alan, are the 5.1 DVD-A tracks complete tracks? Of which songs?

#6 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted May 29 2003 - 06:14 PM

Quote:
are the 5.1 DVD-A tracks complete tracks? Of which songs?

Basically, the start of the album - you don't get a huge amount.

#7 of 11 Alan_Horner

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Posted May 30 2003 - 02:07 AM

Quote:
Alan, are the 5.1 DVD-A tracks complete tracks? Of which songs?
WEA has included what basically amounts to the first eight minutes of TB2003 in 5.1 DVD-A. Oldfield has assigned track numbers to the pieces, so you're getting the first three tracks (which means nothing to me since I will always think of this as Parts 1 & 2). The 5.1 preview ends at a very natural point: right after the heavy bass section (which I always like to think of as the 'devil's theme' from The Exorcist) and right before a soft passage of guitars takes up the melody.

I guess this means the final 5.1 edition will be DVD-A after all.

#8 of 11 David R. Hendrickson

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Posted June 01 2003 - 03:21 PM

Good lord! Maybe Mike will re-record Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn for their 30th anniversaries!


alan, you read my mind. TB is good, but i usually only listen to part 1. it doesn't get to me like these two do, they're also more "complete" for lack of a better word...
dave

No, I can't go out. I'm watching Garbo...

#9 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted June 01 2003 - 06:55 PM

Quote:
Good lord! Maybe Mike will re-record Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn for their 30th anniversaries!

Possible, but unlikely. First, because it's really only Tubular Bells that Mike Oldfield has extensively and consistently had an urge to rework. Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn have been reworked for concert performances (I think Ommadawn has been played more often than Hergest Ridge by quite a margin), it's true, but not to the extent of Tubular Bells. Without delving into bootleg territory (which would at least double the list), off the top of my head I can think of the following permutations for TB that were legitimately released:

TB
Mike Oldfield's Single (theme from TB)
Orchestral TB
TB quad mix
TB concert version (Exposed album)
TB concert version (Airborn album)
TB II
TB II concert version
TB III
TB III concert version
TB compilation album
The Millennium Bell
Millennium concert version of MB and TB
TB 2003

Not many people realise that Hergest Ridge has already been radically re-recorded (or at least re-mixed). Mike Oldfield declared himself unhappy with the original vinyl release and remixed it to a *huge* extent for the 'Boxed' quad mixes. He was so satisfied with the result that the 'Boxed' mix is the only one that's been available ever since. The only way to hear the original HR is to buy the original vinyl album. If you are a fan of MO's music, I strongly urge you to track it down - it is *radically* different.

On the subject of HR, what I would *love* to see released is the Orchestral Hergest Ridge - this was recorded with (I think) Steve Hillage doing the honours on guitar, but was never commercially released.

Ommadawn was the only album before Tubular Bells 2003 to be mixed from the start with surround sound in mind (in Ommadawn's case, quad). On more than one occasion, Mr Oldfield has expressed his satisfaction with the recording, saying it was the first time that the sound of the music in his head got accurately transferred to the recording. Unless he's changed his mind since saying this, then I doubt it will be changed.

I think a good next step would be to release HR and O in their quad mixes adapted for 5.1. Oh yes, and Orchestral Hergest Ridge in any form.

#10 of 11 Alan_Horner

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Posted June 02 2003 - 09:29 AM

Oldfield himself recently indicated that he's thinking of doing a new 5.1 mix for Ommadawn. I would imagine that it will happen if the m/c mix for Tubular Bells 2003 is a hit (when it's eventually released, that is).

I was being facetious about re-recording Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn, though with the improved clarity heard on TB2003 it's enough to make one's mouth water.

As for the Orchestral Hergest Ridge, I was lucky enough to snag a copy off the Internet. An interesting project, but I think they were wise not to release it. The quality of the playing is not all that great!

#11 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted June 02 2003 - 08:10 PM

Quote:
The quality of the playing is not all that great!

Yes, but that's true for Orchestral TB as well. And I think that HR works better as an orchestral score.

So Ommadawn may be remixed in 5.1? Interesting ...


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