‘Tubular Bells 2003’ to be Released as a DVD-Audio Title

Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells 2003’ will get the full DVD-Audio treatment, we can reveal today.

Tubular Bells 2003’ was released on May 27th to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the classic album. It is a brand new up-to-date version – completely replayed and reproduced by Mike Oldfield – and with a new mix to match . There are three versions available, the standard 44.1kHz CD, a CD and DVD bundle and ‘The Complete Tubular Bells’, which features the new 2003 version together with ‘Tubular Bells II’, ‘Tubular Bells III’ and the same DVD.

When news reached us in February, thanks to The Official Mike Oldfield Information Service, that Mike was in the studio working on a surround version, much speculation followed about the nature of that mix and whether it would be released upon either of the new high-resolution formats – the original ‘Tubular Bells’ remains one of the most popular hybrid SACD titles. Some reports claimed that there would be a separate “Super Audio DVD” release – whatever that might be!

However, disappointment followed when it became apparent that the bonus DVD shipped with the two CD versions of the release contained just seven and a half minutes of surround material and that the only surround format available was Dolby Digital.

It is therefore exciting to learn that Warner Music Group will indeed be making available a high-resolution DVD-Audio version, containing surround mixes of all seventeen tracks. Label representatives told High Fidelity Review that they were hoping for a release date sometime in late July, although that is subject to change. The DVD-Audio version of the disc is being produced at Abbey Road Studios during the next two months.

More news about disc supplementary materials etc., as we get them…

From Warner Bros. Spain:

Tubular Bells’ has become one of the landmark albums of pop music history, it spent years at the top of the charts, predated ambient, new age and techno music – and sold over sixteen million copies. “It was always in a genre of its own,” says Mike Oldfield now, with typical understatement. Ever since, ‘Tubular Bells’ has influenced a vast variety of musicians.

“Tubular Bells is a very hypnotic piece of music, very engaging,”

says Chandrasonic, guitarist with midi warriors Asian Dub Foundation.

“Tubular Bells – that’s the acoustic version of Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ for me,”

says Phil Hartnoll of world-conquering techno duo Orbital.

“They stuck out in my mind when I was ten years old. Being pre-pubescent and enjoying adult music. That daring, that novelty – what, only one song on one side of an album? Things like that showed us the way to compose instrumental music that isn’t classical music.”

For Ibiza’s legendary DJ Pippi, ‘Tubular Bells’ was also a key record in his musical youth.

“When I first heard it I was very young but I was very into this sound. It was a very important point for the development of electronic and acoustic music. And a very important point in my life – like Pink Floyd.”

Tubular Bells’ stands alone in pop music history for its complex, pastoral arrangements, the symphonic way it glides from lilting, upbeat moods to dark, threatening passages – all without drums or lyrics or anything traditional song-writing would recognise. But Mike Oldfield has always wanted to re-record the album. He felt the album was let down by the limited studio technology of the time. “Every time I listen to the original version I hear mistakes,” he says. Yet until recently he was restricted by a twenty-five-year contract clause preventing him from doing so.

Always abreast of the latest technology, he knew ‘Tubular Bells’ was a record perfectly suited to the breathtaking capabilities of today’s studio technology. Now, the glittering new version is almost like a whole new record.

“The more I worked on it, the more it took on a life of its own,”

says Mike.

“It’s almost like it’s completely brand new now.”

The surreal roll call of instruments performed by Viv Stanshall on the original album has been re-recorded by John Cleese – who reads the list like the head master of an eccentric public school reading the register, bringing new comedy to famous phrases like “grrrrand piano!” – or the classic: “two slightly distorted guitars!”

It’s appropriate that John Cleese is on it because it’s a little bit Python-esque in the way it changes,” grins Mike. “You have this beautiful pastoral bit, then this crazy, crazy bit, then it will go to the pub piano. It chops and changes: now for something completely different.

Track List Part One:

  1. Introduction
  2. Fast Guitars
  3. Basses
  4. Latin
  5. A Minor Tune
  6. Blues
  7. Thrash
  8. Jazz
  9. Ghost Bells
  10. Russian
  11. Finale

Track List Part Two:

  1. Harmonics
  2. Peace
  3. Bagpipe Guitars
  4. Caveman
  5. Ambient Guitars
  6. Hornpipe