Tubular Bells III Review - The Indepedent

August 28, 1998
Andy Gill
The Friday Review, The Independent

(Warner Bros 3984243492)

THE COVER says it all: just a pale, grey-white background with that familiar twisted tube floating all alone, removed now even from the hint of a horizon. No name, no pack drill. It fits the product perfectly, for Tubular Bells III has rather less to do with music than with successful branding and few brands are more recognisable than the Oldfield franchise, particularly in the European market where a good logo speaks louder than a snappy new title.

And given Oldfield's way with titles, perhaps that's for the best. Mike's spent several years searching for a new audience prepared to accept tracks with titles such as "Serpent Dream" and "The Inner Child", and believes he's found it amongst the ravey-davey summer immigrants to Ibiza. So, for the opening and closing tracks of TB3, he's lashed a few dance beats to old Tubular Bells melody lines, re-vamped them with impassive modern keyboard tones, et voila!, his accountant can sleep happily again.

As can the rest of us who encounter the largely featureless, soporific TB3. There's a terrible irony in the way it apes the vapid Euro-techno of such as Robert Miles, a genre Oldfield effectively invented 25 years ago. It's as if he's copying a copy of himself. The best (or worst) that can be said about the apparently endless project is that Oldfield is, by his own hand, stuck at exactly the same place as when he began his solo career. So how's that for progressive rock?

Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net