Tubular Bells II Review - Melody Maker

September 19, 1992

Melody Marker

EXTRAORDINARY, isn't it? But, still, here we go.

The first "Tubular Bells" was interesting in one respect, in the images of horror it managed to conjure. Way back in 1973, part of Oldfield's enormously indulgent electronic doodle was employed by William Friedkin to soundtrack the first "Exorcist" movie. Thus those few simple bars filled the mind with visions of spinning prepubescent heads, volcanoes of vomit and saintly priests crashing headlong down flights of concrete stairs.

Then, as "The Exorcist" gradually faded from memory, so those same few bars presented us with arguably as horrific a spectacle-that of Richard Branson posing smugly before a fleet of Boeing 747s. And now we come to the follow-up that, by the way, make much play of those same few bars. As follow-ups go, it's probably safe to remark that this does not rank alongside "Godfather II", "French Connection II", or even, God help us, "ExorcistII-The Heretic". In short, it's appalling.

"II" does not sound artificial in the way contemporary electronic music can, as if it were made by deranged machines. Rather, it sounds false, like the very worst pub rock played on a nuclear-powered church organ and thus rendered even more unfathomably awful. Oldfield's one sorry stab at modernity comes on "Dark Star" wherein he introduces what might most charitably be described as "a dancing bear". Not surprisingly, all the aural effects are straight from "Saturday Night Fever".

For the most part though, Mike remains on firmer ground. There are lots of twangy ambient guitars, timpani, glockenspiels and other, more ancient things dragged tinkling from the mists of time.When it comes to playing instruments only archaeologists know exist, Mike is legion. According to the sleevenotes, there is somewhere in this tortuous testament to Mike's nit-picking virtuosity a solo vocal. Sadly, by the time it appeared we were sleeping the sleep of the just and true. Satan himself could not have stirred us.

Soon, apparently, Jeff Wayne, a contemporary of Mike's and the man responsible for "War of the Worlds", an album of positively Olympian pomposity will be setting "Spartacus" to music. What does it all mean?

Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net