Tubular Bells III (WEA)
Panellists on a radio discussion programme were recently wondering wether it was OK to have a copy of the original Tubular Bells in your record collection. Silly question : of course it is. The album, first released in 1973 and in later years the subject of Stalinist post-punk derision, is a mini-masterpiece, a thing of great beauty, delicacy and emotional impact. Unfortunately Tubular Bells III is mostly a pale shadow, and frequently a poor echo, of its progenitor. It has none of the original sense of progression or development, and it is also deeply derivative. On many of the tracks, Oldfield has simply taken an idea or a tune from the original, given it a slightly new twist and bolted on a contemporary-sounding rhythm (the album was largely recorded in the world centre of dance culture, Ibiza). The opening track, The Source Of Secrets, and its reprise, Secrets, are reworked versions of the famous piano introductory piano motif from the original album ; Outcast features more shouting and growling, in the manner of Oldfield's Neanderthal grunting from 1973 ; and The Man In The Rain revamps his hit from 1983, Moonlight Shadow. Moonwatch, meanwhile, just sounds like one of those new age relaxation tapes. There are a couple of sparkling moments : The Top Of The Morning is a swelling piano piece which switches key beautifully, while The Serpent Dream features some driving Spanish-style guitar. He can certainly pick and pluck, and this is a lavishly produced piece of work, but it's a long time since Oldfield wrote a decent original melody.
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net