Monday, November 13, 2006

A Music Post

I previously referred to my ringtone choice on my cell phone -- Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. I've admired this masterpiece since it was released in 1973, not because of The Exorcist, but in spite of the movie. Tubular Bells is one song that fills an entire album. It is continuous. But in 1973 you couldn't fit more than just under 30 minutes on one side of a vinyl LP, and thus one song became Part I (25:36) and Part II (23:20). The CD version follows the original recording as one very long song. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Tubular Bells is that Mike Oldfield was only 17 when he wrote it. It was also the first album released by Virgin Records.

Mike Oldfield played most of the instruments on the album, often recording them one at a time and layering the recordings to create the finished work. My favorite section comes in the last third of Part I when Vivan Stanshall (as The Narrator) introducing each instrument as it is added to the playing of a theme.

[In 2003 Oldfield released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells with updated digital technology and several "corrections" to what he saw as flaws in the first album's production. This version is notable for replacing Vivian Stanshall's narration with a newly recorded narration by John Cleese. I've not heard this version.]

Others have told me them remember seeing a performance of this portion of the album on television, with about a dozen musicians in a circle playing the various instruments. I've often hoped to come across that video somewhere. Thanks to YouTube, I've discovered it was a section of a production of all of Part I produced by the BBC in 1974.

The entire program is broken down into four parts on YouTube due to a limit of 10-minutes run time for posting a video. I've watched all four parts but would really like to see them continuously and full screen. Thus began the search for a DVD of the program.

Eventually, I determined that such a DVD does exist. Mike Oldfield - Elements contains this BBC production along with several other performace videos. It's now on my wish list.