Mike Oldfield's Single

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"Mike Oldfield's Single"
Single by Mike Oldfield
from the album Tubular Bells
B-side Froggy Went A-Courting
Released 28 June 1974 (1974-06-28)
Format 7" Vinyl
Recorded 1972–1974
Genre Folk, progressive rock
Length 4:36
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Mike Oldfield
Producer(s) Tom Newman, Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield singles chronology
"Mike Oldfield's Single"
(1974)
"Don Alfonso"
(1976)

"Mike Oldfield's Single" is the debut authorised single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1974 (See 1974 in music). The A-side is a variation of one of the themes from Oldfield's 1973 debut album, Tubular Bells, and was made in response to an American single containing an excerpt from Tubular Bells which Oldfield did not authorise. After its use in the box office success The Exorcist, "Tubular Bells" (as featured on the American single) reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

USA single[edit]

  • "Tubular Bells (Now the Original Theme from The Exorcist)" - (Oldfield) 3:18
  • "Tubular Bells" - (Oldfield) 4:39

Virgin (dist. Atlantic) VR-55100 (VRS-55100 in Canada), issued in 1973

Side 1 of this single is an excerpt from side 1 of the Tubular Bells album, which contains 2 long pieces, "Tubular Bells" parts 1 and 2. The excerpt was made by staff at Atlantic Records, the American distributors of Oldfield's label, Virgin Records, and was made from bits and pieces of the first 8 minutes of the album, often resulting in abrupt transitions that did not occur in the original version. The abruptness of the edits is a combination of the choice of excerpts, and physical tape splice editing. This version also suffers from a loud hum, which is clearly audible in the quiet opening section, and is not heard on the album. It ends with a return to the opening, which fades out. On the album, there is no return to the opening. This edited version is often referred to as "Now the Original" in reference to the advertising sub-title, which is printed on the label in larger type than the song title itself. This phrase also appeared on stickers attached to the album's shrink wrap in the USA.

Side 2 is an edited excerpt from the end section of the album's side 1, where Vivian Stanshall announces instruments as they appear; it fades out before the original version's conclusion.

Mike Oldfield was displeased when he learned this version had been made without his knowledge or input, and refused its release in the UK. A UK test pressing of this record exists, with catalogue number VS-101,[1] the number that was eventually used for the single Mike made as a substitution, suggesting the "Now the Original" version was considered for release in the UK at one time.

This version of the single was also issued in Canada, France, New Zealand (first edition), South Africa (first edition), and Chile.[1]

Recently, a similar version has been heard on radio in Canada and the USA, which appears to be made from the remastered CD version of the album, edited in the same way as the "Now the Original" single. There are slight differences in the edits, which are not as abrupt, and there is no longer a loud hum in the mix. It appears to be another record company's re-creation of the "Now the Original" version, and is unlikely to have been approved by Oldfield.

USA promo singles[edit]

"Tubular Bells" Excerpts E.P.[edit]

  • Side 1
    • "A" - (Oldfield) 2:44
    • "B" - (Oldfield) 1:40
    • "C" - (Oldfield) 5:36
  • Side 2
    • "A" - (Oldfield) 2:35
    • "B" - (Oldfield) 2:40
    • "C (Sailor's Hornpipe)" - (traditional) 1:30

Virgin (dist. Atlantic) PR-196, plays at 33 rpm

This 7 inch E.P. was issued inside promotional copies of the album, which bore a sticker explaining to disc jockeys that an additional record of excerpts recommended for radio play is enclosed. It was also issued separately from the album.

Second promo[edit]

  • "Tubular Bells (Now the Original Theme from The Exorcist)" - (Oldfield) 3:18 (stereo)
  • "Tubular Bells (Now the Original Theme from The Exorcist)" - (Oldfield) 3:18 (mono)

Virgin (dist. Atlantic) VR-55100 (same number as non-promo edition)

This version can be found with either a white (normal) or blue label, and some copies were issued in a cover that did not come with the version issued to the public.

Third promo[edit]

  • "Tubular Bells (Long Version)" - (Oldfield) 7:40
  • "Tubular Bells" - (Oldfield) 4:39

Virgin (dist. Atlantic) E.P.-PR-199, issued in 1974

Some time after the release of the "Now the Original" excerpt, Virgin/Atlantic tried promoting the section near the end of side 1 of the album. Since this section had been omitted from the previous promo single, a new promo record was necessary. Side 2 is the same edit that was previously released as the B-side of "Now the Original"; side 1 is a longer version of the same section. No playing speed is shown on the label, but given its length and catalogue prefix, side 1 (at least) likely plays at 33 rpm.

UK single[edit]

  • "Mike Oldfield's Single (Theme from Mike Oldfield's album 'Tubular Bells')" - (Oldfield) 4:36
  • "Froggy Went A-Courting" - (traditional, arr. Oldfield) 4:30

Virgin VS-101, issued June 28, 1974

Mike Oldfield was already recording his next album, Hergest Ridge, when he produced this new piece to be released outside North America, in place of the American single. Instead of using either of the 2 popular excerpts from that single, Oldfield chose to re-arrange a section of "Tubular Bells part 2", the so-called "guitars sounding like bagpipes" section, now presented in a pastoral arrangement similar to much of Hergest Ridge, and featuring Lindsay Cooper on oboe, who had played a similar section on Hergest Ridge. Mike Oldfield likely plays all other instruments, which include multiple layers of acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, and harmonium.

Side 2 is the popular children's song, set to a new melody by Oldfield, and spoken rather than sung by Mike Oldfield and Vanessa Branson (sister of Virgin boss Richard Branson), who take turns reciting lines. Despite the way it's spelled on the label, Oldfield deliberately enunciates his opening line as "The frog went a-courting...", and nowhere does the word "uh-huh" appear, as it did frequently in the better known children's version. No list of musicians appears on the cover, but the song is believed to have been played by Mike Oldfield on vocals, guitars, mandolin, probably bass guitar, and possibly piano (or the latter may have been played by David Bedford), Vanessa Branson on vocals, Lol Coxhill on saxophone, and an unknown drummer. A number of places also cite the female vocalist as Bridget St John, instead of Branson.[2][3]

A cover was included with some copies, and is unusual in that it is black and white on the front, and in colour on the back. Side 1's sub-title is shorted to "Theme from Tubular Bells" on the front. The cover was designed by Trevor Key, who designed the cover for Tubular Bells and many other Oldfield and Virgin albums. The front shows Mike sitting on a park bench, while a dove is about to land in the foreground, and is clearly a composite of 2 separate photos. The back shows a colour photo of 2 frogs mating; a typical example of the Virgin label's naughty sense of humour at the time.

Just as Tubular Bells was Virgin's first album (or, to be precise, one of three albums released on the same day), "Mike Oldfield's Single" was Virgin's first UK single, but issued more than a year later. This demonstrates that Virgin was primarily an album label in its early years, with little interest in being a contender for the singles charts. Even so, the record charted at number 31 on the UK Singles Chart.[4]

This version was also issued in Sweden, Portugal (second edition), Greece, and Yugoslavia.[1] In some countries, the sub-title is translated into a local language.

"Mike Oldfield's Single" was remastered and remixed for the 2009 Mercury Records reissue of Tubular Bells. Furthermore it was reissued by Virgin EMI for Record Store Day 2013.[5]

European singles[edit]

  • "Tubular Bells" - (Oldfield) 3:18
  • "Froggy Went A-Courting" - (traditional, arr. Oldfield) 4:27

Side 1 is the same as the American "Now the Original" version, but without that sub-title on the label.

This version was issued in Portugal, the Netherlands (one of two editions), Australia, New Zealand (second edition), and South Africa (second and third editions, with different covers).[1]

  • "Tubular Bells" - (Oldfield) 3:18
  • "Froggy Went A-Courting" - (traditional, arr. Oldfield) 4:25

Side 2 is an alternate mix. On the UK mix, the verse with the lyric, "The owls did hoot and the birds did sing" is recited entirely by Vanessa Branson. On this version, the first part of the verse is recited by Mike Oldfield. This version fades out slightly earlier, although some labels quote the UK mix's timing.

This version was issued in Italy, and the Netherlands (one of two editions) where "Froggy" is identified as side 1.[1]

  • "Mike Oldfield's Single (Theme from Mike Oldfield's album 'Tubular Bells')" - (Oldfield) 4:33
  • "Froggy Went A-Courting" - (traditional, arr. Oldfield) 4:25

This version, with the UK A-side and alternate B-side, was issued in Germany and Spain.[1] In some countries, the sub-title is translated into a local language.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Mike Oldfield's Tubular World". Rainer Muenz. Retrieved 2008-07-19. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Froggy" (in German). Oldfield.de. Retrieved 2008-10-16. [dead link]
  3. ^ "FAQ". Amadian.net. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  4. ^ "everyHit.com". Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  5. ^ "2013 Exclusive Products". Record Store Day. Retrieved 12 October 2013.