Mike Oldfield (& Friends)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, UK
Tubular Bells Live Premiere Concert
Pre-FM Broadcast recording, excellent quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions
And now, we come to perhaps the most surprising and unlikely pioneer, architect, and icon of Progressive Rock, the shy, reclusive master guitarist-composer-multi-instrumentalist, Mike Oldfield. Born in Reading, UK in 1953, Mike taught himself to play guitar while still a child, and by 13 was writing extended compositions and playing at folk clubs as well as part of a beat group. He formed a folk duo with his sister Sally (The Sallyangie), got a record deal and released a folk album at 15. Following that, he was in a rock band, Barefoot, with his older brother Terry. In 1970, he joined Kevin Ayer's backing band, The Whole World, which also featured keyboardist David Bedford, as well as playing guitar in the musical Hair and also playing with Alex Harvey around this time. By 1971 (and still a teenager), he had also made a series of solo home demo tapes featuring extended instrumental compositions and multiple overdubbed parts (the beginnings of 'Tubular Bells') that he tried to shop around to any record label that would take on the project, but he was rejected by them all. That is, until September 1971, when playing as a session musician at a recording session at Manor Studios, he played some of his tapes for engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth, who liked them and brought them to young entrepreneur Richard Branson, who owned the studio (and was also interested in starting his own record company). Branson was impressed enough with the tapes to give Oldfield one week's worth of recording time at the studio to record his work.
At the end of that week, Oldfield had completed what he then called 'Opus One' (which later became 'Part One' of 'Tubular Bells'), a 25+ minute instrumental composition in which Oldfield played all the parts himself (over twenty different instruments) in numerous overdubs, and that defied all categorization, as it combined elements of folk, rock, classical, etc., into a seamless meandering tone poem that introduced main themes and variations before moving on to other themes and variations, and presented with new and different sounds and styles throughout. However, the second part ('Part Two') took much longer to complete because now Mike had to record in the studio off-hours and when it wasn't booked by others. By early 1973, the complete work was finished (Mike still only 19), and by this time it was decided that Tubular Bells would be the first release of Branson's new record company, Virgin Records. It was released on May 25, 1973, and was a truly groundbreaking release, re-defining what 'progressive rock' could be, and unlike any album previous released within the pop-rock world. Although it received near-unanimous praise, it still did not quite fit in anywhere, and rock critics in particular were more subdued in their reception because they did not consider it 'rock' at all. Following the album release, Branson planned a live concert event to promote the album, but Oldfield was reluctant to perform, and tried to back out right up until the concert date (It's been told that Branson gave Oldfield his Bentley on the trip down to the concert in London to keep Oldfield from backing out) That show, a live concert performance of the entire album, with Oldfield and numerous guest musicians and session players, including other 'progressive' artists such as Kevin Ayers, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, David Bedford, as well as Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones, was performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on June 25, 1973 and broadcast live on the BBC (and that is the performance that is presented here). By most accounts the performance was a success, but Oldfield himself was not happy with it and only performed live a few times over the next several years.
The album became quite popular in England, but was too eclectic for the U.S. and did not attract much attention until much later in 1973, when, quite by accident, the opening theme of the album was used in the the most talked about film of the year, William Friedkin's The Exorcist. After the exposure from the film, the album became a huge International hit, (selling over 15 million copies worldwide). This was also a groundbreaking and world-changing album for me personally (and BTW, I heard and bought the album long before The Exorcist film came out), shaping my musical world and the possibilities of where progressive rock could take you. Just magical. Oldfield followed this masterpiece with a couple more albums that, although not receiving the same level of success or popularity, were just as wonderful, accomplished, evocative, and inspiring (and some would say even better than TB, although different in their own ways), in Hergest Ridge (1974) and Ommadawn (1975), and these three albums solidified his early, impressive career. So, here now, is that first live concert premiering Tubular Bells to the World, as it was presented back in 1973.
01. Tubular Bells (Part One)
02. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
Musicians for Queen Elizabeth Hall performance:
Mike Oldfield – acoustic and electric guitars, bass, Lowrey organ, mandolin, "prehistoric poem"
Kevin Ayers – bass guitar
David Bedford – grand piano, accordion, organ, choir master, string arrangements
Steve Broughton – drums
Jon Field – flute
Fred Frith – electric guitar, bass guitar
John Greaves – Davoli electric piano, Farfisa organ, tin whistle, Vox organ
Nick Haley – violin
Tim Hodgkinson – Farfisa organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Vox organ
Steve Hillage – electric guitar
Simon Ingram Hill – cello, organ
Geoff Leigh (misspelt on the programme as "Jeff Leig") – flute
Ashley Mason – viola
Pierre Moerlen – cymbals, glockenspiel, gongs, tam-tam, tubular bells, timpani
Tom Newman – nasal chorus
Terry Oldfield – flute
Ted Speight – electric guitar
Vivian Stanshall – master of ceremonies
Mick Taylor – electric guitar
Janet Townley – violin
Vulpy – viola
Girlie Chorus: Sarah Greaves, Kathy Williams, Sally Oldfield, Maureen Rossini, Lynette Asquith, Amanda Parsons, Maggie Thomas, Mundy Ellis, Julie Clive, Liz Gluck, Debbie Scott, Hanna Corker.
FLAC - Mike Oldfield_1973-06-25_London_FLAC.rar
mp3 - Mike Oldfield_1973-06-25_London_mp3.rar