Joined: April 2003
||Posted: June 17 2003, 08:47
Don't wanna be a party pooper or anything, I just felt I needed to take this out of my chest. Yes, is that old TB / TBII thing. I know that TBII is supposed to be a different album, a new Mike Oldfield work, but... darn it, the name is Tubular Bells II, and I can't help but try and compare the two. I know I have no complaints about TBII as an album, because it's good. But then, it's good, and nothing more. Just a good album.
I think the main thing that annoys me is that I like to see Tubular Bells as a revolutionary, groundbreaking piece of work, absolutely unique and new, not as a blueprint for future albums. I don't like to see "Tubular Bells" as a brand, but as something unique. So, while the idea of a TB sequel doesn't offend me much, the execution actually leaves me underwhelmed.
The thing that I most like about Tubular Bells is that it's an emotional rollercoaster to me. That was Mike, a problematic teenager trying to vent his frustrations into his music and ended up making one of the most important albums ever. I can feel those emotions. The playing is so harsh and passionate, I can definitely feel Mike's anger and melancholy. He tries to sound bigger than the world, and at many times, catches himself being romantic and sad. In other times, it's intense and nervous, and holds me by the neck against the wall with its innocence and youth.
On the other hand, TBII is... nothing. Emotionally, I mean. Mike might have tried to emulate emotions in TBII, but they all sound insincere. I can cope with this sometimes, but here, I feel Mike isn't even trying to sound passionate like he once was. I'll get to this later on. I'll have to make a track-by-track comparison here, even if it's the album as a whole that strikes me.
"Sentinel": This one sounds to me like it was intended as a single. The TB intro sounded very vague and mysterious, like it was trying to figure out what it was trying to do, you know. This one has a clear sense of direction, that is to add up all those gimmicks into the piano riff slowly until the climax. In TB, Mike was there, playing and playing, until those melodies popped in his mind, and then suddenly, he finds himself getting all those feelings, emotions, and wwwWWOOsh, there was the climax.
"Dark Star": The synthesizers make this track a bit too "combed" to my tastes, especially when we consider the psychosis that consisted this part on the original.
"Clear Light": I don't know, but I can't remember almost a single thing about this track, andI heard the album 4 times already. All I remember was the loneliness of the original version, while this one... I dunno.
"Blue Salloon": Does anybody notice a pinch of humour in the original part? I do. But I don't see much content in this track, and it passes right through me... And of course, there was the pub piano, and all.
"Sunjammer": I kinda like this track, but of course, it's nowhere as raging as the original rocking part. Not that this is much of a complaint, though. Here, I have the clear feeling Mike was trying to do something tame, gentle, and... argh, I have the urge to say commercial, but I won't.
"Red Dawn": There was Mike again, trying to figure out what to do. In TBII, this part sounds a bit too "dramatic", but I far prefer the mystery of the TB part.
"The Bell": ... ... ... dang, for Chrissake. On TB, the bass riff used to be mesmerizing as hell. On here, they play it twice before the instruments arrive... totally underwhelming. Again, the original was a true emotional thing, but notice, Mike was trying NOT to sound emotional, with the MC and everything. But deep inside, he wanted to blast away his frustrations, and when the bells arrive, I can almost hear him mutter "okay, you mother******* b***ard, DIE! *BAANG* DIIIE!! *BANG BANG BANG BANG* etc." Here... heck, "digital sound processor"? The original had no synths!
"Weightless": Points the way towards Songs Of Distant Earth, now doesn't it? That's kinda sad, because I far prefer the intensity and nervousism of the original side 2 opener. The pianos, the organ, and that disturbing-as-heck Em chord to break the balance...
"The Great Plain": You all know what I think of the TB version of this one... A complete disappointment, this TBII version. Enough said.
"Sunset Door": Okay, okay, the mandolin melody of TB almost made me weep. And there's a *bass* playing along with the mandolin on here?
"Tattoo": Sorry, but those bagpipes sound rather cheesy here. I mean, it's the 40th time he uses bagpipes, and I'm kinda tired of it.
"Altered State": Oooh, a bit of humour. Actually here I can see Mike using the 90's rhythms and combining them with the original album almost flawlessly.
"Maya Gold": A bit too dramatic sounding to my tastes, on TB there was no drama, just guitar improvisation...
"Moonshine": Another "emotional rollercoaster" thing, on The Sailor's Hornpipe, Mike was trying to extract some chuckles from the listener, but he was also drowning his sorrows, pretending to be happy. It's like he was bashing those mandoline strings, going faster and faster, and as it ended, he collapsed on the ground, panting. There's nothing like that in Moonshine.
What also strikes me is that Mike doesn't try to do nothing unexpected on the album. On TB, The Sailor's Hornpipe for example, was completely unexpected. Moonshine is not, you know it's gonna be there, it doesn't have the same impact. I'm not complaining that he's doing a sequel, is that he's not doing anything to surprise me. It doesn't have 1/100 of the effect TB has in me, even if the music is undeniably good.
It's a good album, but nothing more than that. Just had to get that out of my chest. Thank you, now flame away.
Check out http://ferniecanto.com.br for all my music, including my latest albums: Don't Stay in the City, Making Amends and Builders of Worlds.
Also check my Bandcamp page: http://ferniecanto.bandcamp.com