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Topic: I heard this version first, My thoughts on the two recordings< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
GhostOfAdelaide Offline




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Joined: Aug. 2011
Posted: Aug. 31 2011, 12:23

Late last year, I first heard of Mike Oldfield, and his album Tubular Bells. I didn't look it up straight away, as at that point it was just another name and another album title. A few weeks passed, and I was surfing the net a bit bored, when I remembered the recommendation of Mike Oldfield and his tubular bells.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and read the article. When it mentioned that it was used in The Exorcist, I decided I was going to download it, purely to see if I would remember the music from the film.

In reading the article I saw that there were two recordings: the original debut recording from 1973, and a re-recording by Oldfield himself from 2003, which he made to correct certain mistakes and produce a more polished version than already existed.

My decision might not make sense to most of you, so I think I should give you some background.

I am a classical music student, studying as a composer. I've come to accept that the standards of recording can vary drastically between time periods, countries, and genres. On top of this, I have always been an advocate of composing a piece of music as a discrete object, instead of just a performance piece. Music performance and music recording I see as separate artforms, and I prefer the latter.

Having waded through my fair share of poor recordings of Beethoven's symphonies, Chopin's Nocturnes and Ravel's Bolero, I was getting really frustrated with the vast expanse of recordings and interpretations out there. I really wanted to find, once and for all, the definitive recordings of the definitive performances of those pieces, as far as my own tastes were concerned. As a general rule, I gravitated towards the more recent recordings, purely for the better sound quality.

I had been through two years of this frustrating search in the world of classical music by the time I came to download Tubular Bells, and on hearing that there were two recordings, one that was 37 years old, and one that was only 7 years old, which was made because the older one was deemed unsatisfactory, my decision to opt for Tubular Bells 2003 over Tubular Bells from 1973 was a foregone conclusion.

I downloaded the album, listened to the beginning, and immediately remembered The Exorcist. I was enjoying the sounds very much, and as the album continued, I grew more and more enraptured by the sounds I was hearing. I'm sure you're all envious that I had my first experience of Tubular Bells so recently, and you should be. By the time it finished, it was already my new favourite album of all time.

You all know how it goes from that point. I quickly became obsessed with it, listening to it at least once a day, playing certain favourite parts on repeat, mentioning it to everyone I spoke to. It's a familiar pattern. In those first few weeks, I didn't spare a thought for any other Mike Oldfield works, or even the original recording.

Eventually, though, it did come time for me to get over my obsession and look into Mike Oldfield a bit more deeply. I began by downloading the original recording, because I wanted to go with what I knew and not dive in like I had done in the past with Porcupine Tree (which I'm still not a fan of).

I started listening to it, not surprised by the inferior quality of sound, but as it progressed, I became painfully aware that it just wasn't living up to the standards set by 2003. Given that I had gotten used to the 2003 version, the original just sounded like an unfinished version of the later one. Parts were out of time, out of tune, not mixed properly. It sounded just like Mike's comments had led me to expect it would sound.

I couldn't tolerate it. I switched it off just after the tubular bells came in during the finale (which I had decided was its last chance to win me over before declaring it rubbish), and put on the 2003 version from the start to erase what I had just heard from my memory.

I know this sounds very harsh, but having been turned into a recordings Nazi by my classical music background, it wasn't something I felt very sorry about at the time. I was adamant that 2003 was clearly superior, and anyone who said otherwise was an idiot.

Over time, and with the influence of my friends who I introduced the album to, I warmed to the original version, to the point where that is the version I gravitate to when I want to her the composition. I still love both version in equal amounts, and I don't see a reason to blindly champion one and trash the other on mere principle, like I had been doing, and like a lot of purists do.

My point overall is that the older one is not automatically better on account of it being the original version. There are plenty of songs that are outdone by cover versions by other artists. Indeed, my own favourite song, Mad World by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, is a cover.

Your own experiences dictate your tastes, and if you know one version of something and have another one thrust on you, you're not going to immediately latch onto it. Art is one of only a few things that don't require us to be argumentative, so don't let little things like one recording being better than another get to you.  :)
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Scatterplot Offline




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Posts: 1977
Joined: Dec. 2007
Posted: Aug. 31 2011, 12:57

Hello "Ghost". Welcome to this wonderful Oldfield site! Glad you love TB and TB2003. There is a new version, got that one yet? It's not bad either. I hope you're new to the Oldfield "output". If so, you get the treat of hearing so many  recordings as new. Wish it was 1973 when I first heard it. A very nice year for music. Again....welcome! Jim

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We raise our voices in the night
Crying to heaven
And will our voices be heard
Or will they break Like the wind
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Scatterplot Offline




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Posts: 1977
Joined: Dec. 2007
Posted: Aug. 31 2011, 13:13

PS: I missed your comments about recording standards varying as time progresses. Mike O. is a very good person to study as far as recording technology. He was as much a pioneer as George Martin, if not more so. His contributions, suggestions and what not in the recording(music and video) of music are on the massive side during the important years from 1973(probably before 1973) to the present. Producers/engineers/musicians can learn a lot from analyzing and dissecting MO's music and the equipment used at the time. I've learned a lot about his equipment/techniques from material available on this site that I did not know of before I joined. Enjoy! Jim

--------------
We raise our voices in the night
Crying to heaven
And will our voices be heard
Or will they break Like the wind
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Hastengas Offline




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Posted: Aug. 31 2011, 22:26

Welcome Ghost...glad you eventually liked the original TB.

When and if you get a chance, listen to the original Hergest Ridge, and compare it with the Quadraphonic "Boxed album, then the 2010 re-take....Id be interested to hear what you think...then to cap that....have a listen to the Orchestral Hergest Ridge.....I think its a travesty it was never formally released.....

oh and by the way....have you listened to the Orchestral Tubular Bells? Personally my least favourite version.
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Cudsie Offline




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Posted: Sep. 05 2011, 11:29

What a great posting Ghost - I enjoyed reading that!

I totally understand where you are coming from re classical recordings and trying to find the definitive version - quite often you find the best interpretation of a piece but on an inferior recording which is most vexing.

In my case I learnt that I pretty much liked a certain conductors repertoire and if he recorded with a certain label it generally meant I was going to be happy.

But you never knew what else you might be missing so I always kept my ear open for rave reviews of anything...

re Tubular Bells - I know what you mean about how different the original sounds to anything he has done over the last 20 years - It was the first thing I heard of his and yes it did sound a bit odd and out in parts but that's what grabbed me - and loved right from the start - to the point that the "flaws" actually now sound just how they should be...which meant when I heard the 2003 version it all sounded "wrong" to me.

There is something about the rawness of the Original that draws me to it over any other version.

I do like the 1976 Boxed Remix as well - it has a better sound mix over the original - it doesn't have so many rough edges so to speak and then of course the 2009 Remix takes that further and tries to gentrify it further - but to my mind that then takes away everything that made the original such a unique piece of music.

The 2003 version is the one I like the least because so much of it is computer controlled and in some cases generated. It is sterile and clinical to my ears.

I Quite like the Orchestral version but not the recording or the interpretation of the release by Virgin back in '75. There is a much better interpretation by a japanese orchestra on You Tube which I would love to have as a CD recording...

That's the beauty i guess of being a Mike Oldfield fan - the different versions and interpretations out there of his work.
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Jesse Offline




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Posted: Oct. 01 2011, 10:43

I feel the same way. Listen to harmonics....just listen! How could you let that piece of music in such a bad recording..

I feel the same for much of his older work. It is charming to have the originals and they will not be replaced, but a rerecording could do more justice to such fantastic pieces. Ommadawn next please :)
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Sweep Offline




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Posted: Nov. 26 2011, 07:03

Thanks for an interesting topic.

I'm not sure there's really always a definitive recording or performance of a piece, though, especially with music of any depth.

I remember listening to every version could find of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, including the one Orff himself endorsed. The Orff endorsed one was indeed excellent, but so were some of the others, and it really depended what aspect of the music you were responding to at any one time.

Debussy's La Mer would perhaps be another example, sounding different in many different recordings, like different seas. Could there ever be a definitive sea?

True, some specific recordings are superlatively better than the average - Michael Tilson Thomas' 1970s Rite of Spring, probably Peter Frankl's Debussy piano recordings, and so on. But definitive? In a way I hope not, because I think a good piece of music has more aspects than can be expressed in one performance.

I think there may well be cases where a much better version could be compiled from different recordings. I intend to do that with Hergest Ridge when I get the chance (But maybe I'll find it can't really be done when I try it.) But I'm sure there will alays be times when a lesser version has something than can't be included in one single definitive recording.


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Website@: http://www.musicbysweep.com
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Bradnor Hill (in memory of David Bedford): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKeATjaMCgA
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