Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: May 11 2005, 17:24
I definitely don't think that Mike can claim Tubular Bells 2003 is what he'd have done in 1973 had he been allowed the time. His comments on Latin spring to mind, how he got everyone to rattle spoons during that section to make the clattering percussion which runs behind it and yet...he felt that it was a beautiful piece of music which deserved the treatment it finally received on Tubular Bells 2003. Well, perhaps Mike was extremely drunk at the time, but really, I don't think it takes a genius to know that getting people to rattle spoons and make other assorted clanging noises isn't going to make for a very smooth and laid back listening experience! It's quite clear to me that he wanted parts to sound dissonant, and that his mind has changed since then. Nothing wrong with him changing his mind of course, but it does go against Mike's clain that the modern recording is how he always wanted the album to be...
Mike also has a rather selective memory about some things relating to the album. He says, for example, he was never allowed a second take on anything...that rather contradicts with some of what Tom Newman has said about some of the sessions - according to him, they actually spent quite a long time on parts like the introduction, because Mike couldn't play in time. That's rather different to not being allowed a second take, if you ask me.
I have to say, I don't find Tubular Bells 2003 to be an album which improves much when played on higher quality equipment. The subtlety just isn't there, and much of the recording is rather hard sounding, to my ears. I find it gets tiring to listen to rather quickly.
The introduction says a lot about what's to come - the piano is quite loud, forward sounding, and also very hard timing-wise. The original had a slight drift to it, falling behind the beat occasionally, giving it a more relaxed sound. It was also quite a bit quieter, and all in all rather more gentle in feel. Then comes that bass, a very forceful sound, which pushes its way right to the front. There's not necessarily anything the matter with doing that, but Mike does it the whole way through Part One - he pushes everything to the front. There is no respite, it always smacks you right between the eyes, whether it's a delicate section or an aggressive section.
More horrors are to come as it enters Fast Guitars, though. The original arrangement was actually quite sparse in that section, with the rhythm being driven along by the bass guitar, which had just a slightly distorted sound, not enough to be fuzzy, but enough to give it some extra high end to allow it to fill out the spectrum a little. For the 2003 version, Mike's chosen to roll off the treble on the bass, and has treated us instead to some mushy and obnoxiously distorted amp-sim guitar power chords. They don't really add much to the arrangement other than filling it out with a big fuzz, which I think is actually detracting from rather than adding to the mix. It contributes to the tiring, hard sound without bringing anything new musically. The organ part in the original filled out the space well without doing that.
And so it goes on...things everywhere succumb to the mighty power of the compressor, while long, dense reverbs and synth pads fill in every crack like a sugary gas.
To me, all that's like Rolf Harris painting with a decorator's brush and a can of emulsion - entertaining, but not terribly subtle, and tiring after extended periods. Listen out for the wobbleboard on Mike's upcoming album.