|Studio album by Mike Oldfield|
|Released||25 May 1973
8 June 2009 (re-issue)
|Recorded||The Manor, Oxfordshire, England
Autumn 1972 – Spring 1973
|Genre||Progressive rock, symphonic rock, New Age|
Mercury (2009 re-issue)
|Mike Oldfield chronology|
|Singles from Tubular Bells|
Tubular Bells is the debut record album of English musician Mike Oldfield, recorded when he was 19 and released in 1973. It was the first album released by Virgin Records and an early cornerstone of the company's success. Vivian Stanshall provided the voice of the "Master of Ceremonies" who reads off the list of instruments at the end of the first movement. The opening piano solo was used as a soundtrack to the enormously successful William Friedkin film The Exorcist (released the same year) and gained considerable airplay because of this.
The piece was later orchestrated by David Bedford for The Orchestral Tubular Bells version and it had three sequels in the 1990s, Tubular Bells II (1992), Tubular Bells III (1998) and The Millennium Bell (1999). Finally, the album was fully re-recorded as Tubular Bells 2003 at its 30th anniversary in 2003. A newly mastered and mixed re-issue of the original album appeared in June 2009 on Mercury Records, with bonus material.
For the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics Oldfield rearranged segments from Tubular Bells for a segment about the National Health Service. This rendition appears on the soundtrack album Isles of Wonder and is included on the official BBC DVD release.
Track listing - original 1973 release 
All songs written and composed by Mike Oldfield, except "The Sailor's Hornpipe" (traditional, arranged by Mike Oldfield) Copyright 1973 Virgin Music Publishers Ltd.
Side one 
- "Tubular Bells, Part One" – 25:30
Side two 
- "Tubular Bells, Part Two" – 23:20
Mike Oldfield 
Acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, Farfisa, Hammond, and Lowrey organs; flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, "honky tonk" piano (piano modified to sound more percussive), mandolin, piano, "Piltdown Man", percussion, Spanish guitar, producer, "taped motor drive amplifier organ chord", timpani, vocals and tubular bells.
Additional personnel 
- Steve Broughton — percussion
- Lindsay L. Cooper — string bass
- Mundy Ellis — vocals
- Jon Field — flutes
- Sally Oldfield — vocals
- Vivian Stanshall — Master of Ceremonies
- Nasal Choir
- Manor Choir (Simon Heyworth, Tom Newman, Mike Oldfield)
- Trevor Key - artwork
- Produced By Mike Oldfield, Simon Heyworth & Tom Newman
- Recorded & Engineered By Simon Heyworth & Tom Newman
- Mastered By Simon Heyworth
Album artwork 
The cover design was by Trevor Key of Cooke Key Associates (with Brian Cooke), who would go on to create the covers of many Oldfield albums. The concept for the triangular bell on the album cover art originally came from the idea of a bell which had been destroyed. Oldfield had come up with this when he had dented the set of Tubular bells used to record the album when playing them.
The "bent bell" image on the cover is also associated with Oldfield, even being used for the logo of his personal music company, Oldfield Music, Ltd. The image was also the main focus for the cover art of the successive Tubular Bells albums. Tubular Bells has also been issued as a vinyl picture disc, showing the bent bell on a skyscape.
Oldfield approached (and was rejected by) many other established record labels. Some of the rejections were because they believed the piece to be unmarketable. Oldfield then played his demos to some of the engineers at The Manor; they, along with their boss, Richard Branson, decided to give Oldfield a chance. Virgin Records released Oldfield's debut album Tubular Bells as its first album; hence the catalogue number V2001 (although V2002, Gong's The Flying Teapot, and V2003, the compilation Manor Live, were released on the same date).
The significance of this album to the Virgin empire is not lost on Richard Branson, who named one of his first Virgin America aircraft, an Airbus A319-112, N527VA Tubular Belle. Prior to this Virgin Atlantic had named a Boeing 747-4Q8 , G-VHOT Tubular Belle, in 1994.
Virgin reissued the album a number of times including in 2000 for a HDCD release, and in 2001 for a SACD release. The HDCD release contained liner notes by David Laing, and the SACD release notes were by Phil Newell and Simon Heyworth.
The 50th Anniversary edition of the music magazine Music Week features the album in the official Top-Selling UK albums 1959–2009 listing at no. 35, noting it as the only entry that did not yield a hit single. In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came #9 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".
In the United Kingdom, Virgin Money's January 2012 advert, '40 Years of Better', which the bank used to signal its entry into the banking sector, used the introduction to Tubular Bells accompanied by an image of a record orbiting the earth to signify the beginnings of Virgin. Around the same time, a Virgin Media advert featuring David Tennant and Richard Branson also incorporated the record, where a younger version of Branson has a copy of the record under his arm upon exiting a time machine.
The Mail on Sunday free edition 
On 22 April 2007 a British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, gave away 2.25 million free copies of the full original Tubular Bells to its readers; this came in a card packet displaying the original artwork.
EMI (owners of the Virgin Records label) earned between £200,000 and £500,000 from the promotion. The Mail on Sunday claimed that their promotion increased sales of the album by 30%; however industry sources noted that this was not a significant rise for the title at the time. This cover-mount deal came prior to the album's transfer from Virgin/EMI back to Oldfield.
Oldfield attacked EMI in the press for agreeing this deal with The Mail on Sunday, not having been consulted about it. He also stated that he felt that it devalued the work. In a poll conducted by Music Week, to whom Oldfield wrote a letter about the situation, 89.9% of people supported Oldfield's view that EMI and The Mail on Sunday should have at least asked him about the cover-mount promotion.
Mercury reissue 
In 2008 when Oldfield's original 35-year deal with Virgin Records ended, the rights to the piece were returned to him and were transferred to Mercury Records On 15 April 2009, Mercury announced the transfer of Oldfield's Virgin albums to the label, and the first album, Tubular Bells, was re-released in June 2009. Tubular Bells was released on various formats, which include an original vinyl, a new remix, a 2CD edition and DVD. There were also bell-ringing events on 6 June 2009 at 6pm, a reference to 666.
Mike Oldfield played most of the instruments on the album (see below), recording them one at a time and layering the recordings to create the finished work. Many of his subsequent albums feature this technique. Though fairly common in the music industry now, at the time of the production of Tubular Bells not many musicians made use of it, preferring multi-musician "session" recordings.
Reference in other Oldfield works 
Tubular Bells is the album most identified with Oldfield, and the reverse may be true as well, as he has frequently returned to it in later works. The opening passage of the title track on the album Crises and the piece "Harbinger" on the album Music of the Spheres are clearly derived from the opening of Tubular Bells. The opening is also quoted directly in the song "Five Miles Out" from the album of the same name, and the song also features his "trademark" instrument, "Piltdown Man" (referring to his singing like a caveman, first heard on Tubular Bells).
In popular culture 
The opening theme, which was eventually chosen for the 1973 film The Exorcist, gained the record considerable publicity and introduced the work to a broader audience. Along with a number of other Oldfield pieces it was used in the 1979 NASA movie The Space Movie. The opening theme has been sampled by many other artists, such as Janet Jackson on her song "The Velvet Rope". The opening theme has also gained cultural significance as a 'haunting theme', partly due to the association with The Exorcist.
In television it was also used in several episodes of the Dutch children's series Bassie en Adriaan, an episode ("Ghosts") of the BBC series My Family and an episode ("Poltergeist III - Dipesto Nothing") of Moonlighting. It was also used in a television advertisement for the Volkswagen Golf Diesel in 2002. It has also been used in other films such as 1974's Black Christmas, 1985's Weird Science, 2001's Scary Movie 2 (in a scene directly parodying The Exorcist), 2002's The Master of Disguise and 2004's Saved!. The album is also mentioned in the Only Fools and Horses episode "Fatal Extraction", although the cover of Tubular Bells II is shown on screen.
Album progression 
As per the credits listed on the 2003 5.1 SurroundSound edition of the album, Tubular Bells is presented in two parts, each of which is further divided into sub-sections as follows:
Part one 
- "Fast Guitars"
- "A Minor Tune"
- "Ghost Bells"
Part two 
- "Bagpipe Guitars"
- "Ambient Guitars"
- "The Sailor's Hornpipe"
Progression of part one 
Part one opens with a soft minor key piano line in 15/8 eventually played verbatim by organ and glockenspiel. This riff is made up of two bars; the first bar is in 7/8, the second bar is in 8/8. These are later joined by a different line in bass guitar. An occasional punchy organ chord, first heard at about 1:02 in, accents this piece, harmonised by variations of the anchor line and a later incorporated 3/4 chord sequence, both in piano. At around 2:55, a clean, high-register electric guitar line appears, which segues into a section of 4/4-7/8-7/8-4/4, and at 3:40 another electric guitar line in the middle register, entirely in 4/4.
After the electric guitar line ends, a softer, fast guitar line ("speed guitar," as listed in the liner notes) takes over, only to be interrupted by an acoustic guitar line overlaying the original piano phrase in major key. A gentle glockenspiel/piano piece takes over, but is later replaced with a fast piano section, occasionally accented with organ chords.
The mood of the first 6 minutes is soon replaced by edgy electric guitar and, afterwards, a sinister organ chord, with various changes in pitch and duration. But, once again, a more refined, carefree section ensues, dominated by acoustic guitar and piano, eventually returning to the soft riff first heard just past four minutes into the piece.
A 3/4 variation of the original theme comes next, followed by eerie bass and organ playing, segueing into a bluesy shuffle on electric guitar. Once again, when it looks like the piece will be serene (when the nasal choir intervenes), another edgy guitar line ensues, with Oldfield incorporating both 4/4 and 7/8.
After that, a more folky acoustic line plays (with background tambourine), but is suddenly cut off by the tolling of bells ("Ghost Bells"). A weary acoustic guitar line ("Russian") follows, breaking into the eight-and-a-half minute "Finale" section, commencing with a double bass line in 5/4, polyrhythmically played with a 4/4 acoustic line. After the bass and guitar unite into the 4/4 line, the acoustic guitar tacets and is eventually replaced by soft pipe organ notes (usually lasting four or eight full beats) while the bass line plays.
After the 10-bar bass phrase is repeated several times, Stanshall introduces many of the instruments appearing in part one up to then, beginning with the keyboards, followed by glockenspiel and all guitars before the tubular bells are announced, the ensemble becoming more dynamic and full as more instruments are said. Finally, after the tubular bells enter, a wordless feminine chorus starts to sing. Farther down, the Finale ensemble fades out to an acoustic guitar solo, which takes up the remainder of part one.
Progression of part two 
Part two begins where part one left off; with a soft, simple piece ("Harmonics"), this time beginning with bass guitar and working up with other guitars and keyboards. The opening time signature is 6/8, but a later line plays a similar melody in 3/4 on various instruments, beginning with guitar. The opening section builds for five minutes before the second section, "Peace," starts, another 3/4 section at half tempo on acoustic guitar, with accompaniment on organ, mandolin and female chorus.
At around 8:48, the piece becomes edgy and surreal again, as the "Bagpipe Guitars" enter the piece (electric guitars with added effects to give it the bagpipe-esque sound), playing a 12/8 piece of sorts. About 11 minutes in, the intensity of the section builds as the guitar pitches increase and a heavy piano "roll" plays, climaxed by a sudden ascending glissando on the piano.
Next is one of the more unusual parts of the album, the "Caveman" section, referred to in the album's original liner notes as "Piltdown Man." Timpani rolls and drum kit commence this part, highlighted by unintelligible "lyrical" utterances, grunts, growls, howls, and screams by Oldfield. (This was alleged to be a rumour, however. Simon Heyworth, audio engineer, recalled that Branson was getting impatient pressurising Oldfield to deliver the cut, and flustered they drove down to London and dumped a copy of entire uncut album, and he recalled that Branson wanted vocals on one of the albums, whereas Oldfield had no intentions of doing so. Oldfield said himself in an interview that he angrily stormed out of Branson's office yelling "You want lyrics!? I'll give you lyrics!". He then drank half a bottle of Jameson's whiskey and demanded the engineer to take him to the studio where, intoxicated, he "screamed his brains out for 10 minutes". This was later used in the album in rebellion against Richard Branson's desire to include at least one part with lyrics to release as a single.) Oldfield's yelling is countered by various phrases on piano, guitars, and the "Moribund chorus," with this piece abruptly ending on one long loud shouting scream exactly 16:29 in.
Another quiet section, "Ambient Guitars," ensues, a 12/8 piece mostly dominated by guitars and organ. This section gives an excellent insight into the psychedelic, spacey side of Oldfield (a similar sound to that of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour), which would also be present in his third album, Ommadawn. After about five minutes, an optimistic organ line plays, segueing into a climactic arrangement of "Sailor's Hornpipe".
"Sailor's Hornpipe" begins with a mandolin playing at a moderately slow tempo, but quickly mutates into a gradually accented piece with multiple instruments (including an unlisted violin), ending with two loud, accented notes. In live performances, Oldfield would reach incredible tempos and "Sailor's Hornpipe" alone became a staple of his concerts in the 1970s and 1980s.
The recording sessions 
The two parts of Tubular Bells were recorded between Autumn 1972 and Spring 1973.
- Part one was recorded in just one week at The Manor Studio, owned by the founder of Virgin Records, Richard Branson. Oldfield used this studio immediately after John Cale's sessions and just before the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band began recording.
- Oldfield's working title for Tubular Bells was Opus One; Richard Branson thought to call it Breakfast in Bed. One of the possible album covers for Breakfast in Bed included a boiled egg with blood pouring out of it. This cover was edited and used as the artwork for Oldfield's final album with Virgin, Heaven's Open.
- The only electric guitar to be used on the album was a 1966 blonde Fender Telecaster (serial no. 180728) which used to belong to Marc Bolan. Oldfield had added an extra Bill Lawrence pickup and has since sold the guitar and donated the money to the SANE charity. This guitar had been put up for auction a number of times by Bonhams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with estimates of £25,000 – 35,000, £10,000 – 15,000 and £8,000 – 12,000 respectively.
- According to Oldfield the "Piltdown Man" shouting sequence came about when he had practically finished recording the instruments for the section, but felt that it needed something else. The whiskey-fueled idea to create the "Piltdown Man" effect was to shout and scream into a microphone while running the tape at a higher speed. Upon playback the tape ran at normal speed, thus dropping the pitch of the voice track.
- The album was recorded on an Ampex 2" 16 track tape recorder, which was The Manor's main recording equipment at the time.
- To create the double speed guitar, the tape was simply run at half speed during recording. Oldfield also used a custom effects unit, named the Glorfindel box, to create the 'fuzz' or 'bagpipe' distortion on some guitar pieces on the album. The Glorfindel box was given to David Bedford at a party, who then subsequently gave it to Oldfield. Tom Newman criticised the wooden cased unit in a 2001 interview with Q magazine noting that it rarely gave the same result twice.
- The set of tubular bells that were used on the album had been left by an instrument hire company after John Cale's sessions at the Manor, at the request of Oldfield.
- According to Phil Newell the Bass guitar used on the album was one of his Fender Telecaster Basses.
- Vivian Stanshall, who was staying at the Manor at the time, was asked to introduce the instruments for the finale of part one. It was the way in which Stanshall had said plus... tubular bells which gave Oldfield the idea to call the album Tubular Bells.
1993 saw the release of the book The Making of Tubular Bells.
"Sailor's Hornpipe" and the original ending 
When recorded in 1973, the coda at the end of Part Two, the "Sailor's Hornpipe", was originally preceded by a longer slightly bizarre rendition of the piece. Loud marching footsteps trot around the sound channels as the "Sailor's Hornpipe" is played on acoustic instruments, whilst announcer Vivian Stanshall gives an obviously-inebriated, improvised tour of the Manor. According to the liner notes for the Boxed vinyl set, this session occurred at four in the morning after Oldfield, engineer Tom Newman and Stanshall had been drinking heavily. They placed microphones in the rooms of the Manor, hit record and set off on an unplanned tour of the house.
It was cut from the final version, though it can be heard in what the liner notes describe as "all its magnificent foolishness" on Boxed. The Boxed set reinstates the section at the end of side two of Tubular Bells. It can also be heard on the SACD (multi-channel track only) This rendition of "Sailor's Hornpipe" was included in the 2009 Mercury reissue of Tubular Bells.
In addition, a version of Tubular Bells was originally released on the Spanish Boxed compilation such that Part Two ended with the "Ambient Guitars" movement without the "Sailor's Hornpipe" finale.
Stereo record joke 
The album cover contains humorous statements about the record being in stereo. Under the label's logo on the back, there is the statement, "In Glorious Stereophonic Sound", followed by the line: "Can also be played on mono-equipment at a pinch". Another statement appears at the lower left of the back cover, a spoof on the warnings about compatibility between stereo records and mono equipment (or vice versa) as found on older albums:
"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."
The use of record vs. equipment warnings re-appeared on album covers when quadraphonic albums were marketed in the early to mid-1970s, and when Tubular Bells was later issued in quad, the American pressing removed the "tin boxes" statement. British and Australian quad pressings retained the statement, and most quad editions modified the top-right statements to read: "In Glorious Quadraphonic Sound; Can also be played on stereo and mono equipment at a pinch". Some British editions also had a sticker on the front declaring the quad edition to be "for people with four ears". The quadraphonic version was mixed and matrixed according to the SQ system.
A small essay about the restoration and remastering of the album, included with the 25th Anniversary limited edition CD, concludes with: "...but (it) still can't be played on old tin boxes". Similarly, the re-recorded album Tubular Bells 2003 reprints the original warning with the word "still" (in italics) added.
A similar humorous "health warning" appeared on Oldfield's Amarok album, which cautioned:
"This record could be hazardous to the health of cloth-eared nincompoops. If you suffer from this condition, consult your Doctor immediately."
Sound mixes 
There are four known variations of the vinyl edition of Tubular Bells:
- The standard stereo black vinyl version catalogue number V2001 (white label with twins image or green label with twins image and 25.00 side A). This mix was reissued on vinyl as part of the Back to Black series in 2009.
- A stereo black vinyl version catalogue number VR 13-105 (white label with color twins image). This is the original North American version of the album, distributed by Atlantic Records.
- A quadrophonic version, black vinyl catalogue number QV2001. The first 40,000 copies of this are not true quadrophonic but doctored versions of the stereo issue, thereafter the subsequent copies are true quadrophonic. Unfortunately there is no indication on the record label that this substitution was made.
- The Picture Disc, catalogue number VP2001. This is a stereo remix of the quadrophonic version, the only difference being in the sound of the "Reed and Pipe Organ" during the ceremony of instruments. This version appears in the Boxed compilation.
There are a number of different mixes and masters of the album available on CD. Some of the known ones are:
- Some CDs contain the original stereo mix.
- The Boxed CD release contains a stereo remix of the quadrophonic version.
- The 2000 reissue (HDCD) contains a remaster of the album.
- The SACD edition contains the remaster and the Boxed quad mix.
- In 2009 two new mixes were released, one a CD stereo mix and one a DVD (Dolby Digital) 5.1 surround sound mix.
Charts and awards 
Tubular Bells stayed in the British charts for 279 weeks. It climbed the charts slowly but steadily, and did not reach number one for over a year. In doing so it displaced Oldfield's second album, Hergest Ridge, which had been at number one for three weeks. This made Oldfield one of only three artists in the UK to beat himself to the top of the album charts.
The album sold more than 2,630,000 copies in the UK alone (making it the all-time 34th best seller in the UK), and according to some reports 15 to 17 million copies worldwide. The album went gold in the USA and Mike Oldfield received a Grammy Award for the best Instrumental Composition in 1975.
In the UK the album has re-entered the charts in each decade since its release; the most recent being at number 66 in 2012.
Chart performance 
Sales and certifications 
The first single released from the album was created by the original US distributor, Atlantic Records. This version was an edit of bits from part one which was not authorized by Oldfield. The single was released only in the US, where it peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on May 11, 1974, making Oldfield a One Hit Wonder on the US charts.
"Mike Oldfield's Single" was the first UK 7-inch single released by Mike Oldfield, in June 1974. It featured a re-recording (with oboe as the lead instrument) of Tubular Bells part two's "bagpipe guitars" section as the A-side, with "Froggy Went A-Courting" as the B-side. This was included in the 2009 Mercury reissue of Tubular Bells.
Demo version 
Oldfield recorded the demo pieces of Tubular Bells in his flat in Tottenham, London in 1971. Oldfield recorded the demos on a Bang & Olufsen Beocord 1/4" tape machine which he had borrowed from Kevin Ayers. Oldfield was able to overdub his playing by blocking off the erase head of the tape machine. The demos titled, "Tubular Bells Long", "Caveman Lead-In", "Caveman", "Peace Demo A" and "Peace Demo B" appeared on the DVD-Audio version of the rerecording of Tubular Bells, Tubular Bells 2003.
Pieces from Oldfield's 1971 demos appear on the 2009 Ultimate Edition Mercury reissue of Tubular Bells; also included on this release is a scrapped mix of the album from Spring 1973.
Tubular Bells series 
Tubular Bells can be seen as the first of a "series" of albums continuing with Tubular Bells II (1992), Tubular Bells III (1998) and The Millennium Bell (1999). Finally in 2003 Oldfield released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells with updated digital technology and several "corrections" to what he saw as flaws in the first album's production. This version is notable for replacing the late Vivian Stanshall's narration with a newly recorded narration by John Cleese. There is also a new mix of the original album on the 2009 Mercury reissue.
Other versions include a quadrophonic version in 1975 ("For people with four ears", as the sleeve said; the quad mix was later used for the multi-channel part of the SACD release), an orchestral version in the same year (The Orchestral Tubular Bells with David Bedford), and different live recordings; a complete one can be found on the double live album Exposed from 1979.
Studio and Live 
- Tubular Bells (1973)
- The Orchestral Tubular Bells (orchestral version; 1975)
- Tubular Bells II (1992)
- Tubular Bells III (1998)
- The Millennium Bell (1999)
- Tubular Bells 2003 (2003)
2000/2001 Re-issues 
In 2000 the album was remastered and released as a HDCD and an SACD. Some copies were labelled as the "25th Anniversary Edition".
- Simon Heyworth - remastered at Chop Em' Out Mastering, London March/April 2000
- David Glasser, Airshow Mastering, Boulder, Colorado, USA March 2000 - master
- Gus Skinas - DSD SACD
- Ed Meitner - A2D and D2A Converters
- Arbernaut/Rina Cheung @ Public Art Creative Consultants Limited - artwork
- Jason Day - Remastered series co-ordinator
2009 Re-issue 
In 2008, when Oldfield's original 35-year deal with Virgin Records ended, the rights to the piece were returned to him, and were transferred to Mercury Records. Oldfield's Virgin albums were transferred to the label, and re-released, starting 8 June 2009. Tubular Bells was released in four physical variations, and two digital variations in the UK and Ireland, and as five physical editions elsewhere. In April 2009 a new official website, TubularBells2009.com, was unveiled.
The new releases contain a new 2009 stereo mix of the album, which Oldfield created at his home in the Bahamas in March 2009. The "Deluxe Edition" contains a 5.1 mix, and the "Ultimate Edition" box set contains a 60 page hardback book, a poster, plectrums and other pieces such as rough mixes and demo versions of the album. There is also a vinyl version released as part of the Back to Black series.
The liner notes include photos from the time and text written by Mark Powell about Oldfield and the album. The DVD also states on its label that it features the "Tubular Bells film" from The Old Grey Whistle Test as visual content; however, this appears not to be on the DVD and is also not listed on the outer cover of the album.
The Digital Edition contains the same audio content as the Ultimate Edition. The Vinyl Edition is part of the Back to Black series, and contains the original 1973 mix of the album. Downloads are also available from Back to Black website. The Vinyl Edition carries the original seascape artwork.
Oldfield's albums from Hergest Ridge through to QE2 have subsequently also been reissued in remastered editions, and on Mike Oldfield's personal Facebook group he announced on January 20, 2013, that he has asked his record label to convert the analogue tapes of Five Miles Out and Crises to start work on the deluxe editions and possibly new 5.1 mixes.
Additionally Universal and Indaba Music have created a Tubular Bells remix contest, where users can download original stem recordings to create their own pieces. The winner of the $1000 prize is to be judged by Oldfield.
Track listings 
Tubular Bells Standard Edition (1CD) 
The Standard Edition carries the original artwork, and features the new mix, and two bonus tracks. UK release code number 060252735055.
- "Tubular Bells Part One" (New stereo mix with extended edit) - 25:58
- "Tubular Bells Part Two" (New stereo mix) - 23:20
- "Mike Oldfield's Single" - 3:53
- "Sailor's Hornpipe" (Vivian Stanshall version) - 2:48
Tubular Bells / The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974–1983 
The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974–1983 carries a black cover with the Tubular Bells logo. It contains the same first disc as the Standard Edition as well as a compilation of some of Oldfield's work from Ommadawn to Crises.
Tubular Bells Deluxe Edition (2CD & 1DVD) 
The Deluxe Edition carries the original seascape artwork with a "Deluxe Edition" white banner at the bottom. The DVD is incorrectly labelled as "Disc 4", even though there are only three discs in this version. This is due to the same DVD being the fourth disc in the Ultimate Edition. UK release code number 270 354-1.
CD one 
- As standard edition
CD two 
- "Tubular Bells Part One" (Original stereo mix)
- "Tubular Bells Part Two" (Original stereo mix)
- "Tubular Bells Part One" (5.1 surround mix)
- "Tubular Bells Part Two" (5.1 surround mix)
- "Mike Oldfield's Single" (5.1 surround mix)
- "Sailor's Hornpipe" (Vivian Stanshall version)
- "BBC TV 2nd House Performance"
Tubular Bells - The Ultimate Edition 
The Ultimate Edition comes complete with 60-page hardback book with a foreword by Mike Oldfield, plectrums, poster, copy of Manor Studios recording brochure, concert ticket, postcard and recording information. The Ultimate Edition carries the white artwork, with the bell logo. UK release code number 270 353-9 (04).
- CD one - (As Standard edition)
- CD two - (As Deluxe edition)
- DVD - (As Deluxe edition)
- Vinyl - (As Vinyl edition)
- Bonus CD
- "Tubular Bells (long)" (demo) - 22:55
- "Caveman Lead-in" (demo) - 2:44
- "Caveman" (demo) - 5:06
- "Peace Demo A" (1971 demo) - 7:01
- "Peace Demo B" (1971 demo) - 4:22
- "Tubular Bells, Part One" (scrapped first mix Spring 1973) - 25:13
- Mike Oldfield - Stereo and 5.1 mixes, project director
- Adam Barker - project director
- Daryl Easlea - project director
- Joe Black - product manager
- Mark Powell - master tape research, artist liaison
- Paschal Byrne, The Audio Archiving Company, London - 24-bit digital remastering
- Phil Smee, Waldo's Design & Dream Emporium - artwork package and design
- Trevor Key - original artwork
- Rupert and Alex Smee - New Bell 3D image
- Tom Newman - Recording engineer
- Simon Heyworth - Recording engineer, Photographs
- Barry Plumber - Photographs
- Getty Images - Photographs
- Ben Wiseman and Craig Thompson, Audio Archiving Company - Analogue to Digital Transfers
- Emma Sutcliffe - Numbers
Where the original artwork has been used, the photographs have been digitally enhanced, and the bell logo has been replaced with a computer-generated version. The shapes of some of the clouds have changed: the image is a richer blue; the detail on the bell, including reflections, has been simplified; and what appear to be birds have been removed from the front cover image.
New artwork has also been used, such as the bell on a white background, which was used for the Ultimate Edition, and the bell on a black background, which was used for The Collection.
The 2-CD version, The Mike Oldfield Collection 1974–1983, containing the album and a disc of Oldfield's tracks from 1974 to 1983 was advertised on television during the run up to Father's Day. The actor Tom Baker, known for his role as the Doctor in Doctor Who, provides his voice-over for the advert. Baker also did the voice-over for the advert for The Best of Tubular Bells in 2000. The Collection charted at number 11 in the UK Albums Chart.
Some stores, such as audio/video retailer Richer Sounds, ran promotions for the album. The Richer Sounds promotion was a prize draw, where first prize was a Cambridge Audio Hi-Fi system and a signed copy of the Ultimate edition of Tubular Bells. Oldfield has also endorsed Cambridge Audio products.
A short old mix of the introduction piece was released as a promotional single, and was first played on BBC Radio 2's Radcliffe & Maconie show on 26 May 2009. The single begins with the "Introduction" piece, then moves into the "Fast Guitars" and "Basses" pieces, before returning to the "Introduction" piano part.
Oldfield was interviewed on the Radcliffe & Maconie show on 23 June 2009, and he was also interviewed on Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s on BBC Radio 2 on 14 June 2009. The Crown Records cover of the finale of part one was played at the end of the Sounds of the 70s interview; Oldfield's version was played on Walker's show the following week.
Post-release bonus material 
For a short period of time after the release, when the album was inserted into a computer, and the user visited the URL mikeoldfield.com/bonus, additional material was available, such as an interview with Mike Oldfield which was filmed on a rainy day in the Bahamas in May 2009. Since the creation of the releases more material has been unearthed, such as another alternate version (second take) of "Caveman"; these may be released on the website at a later date.
Online store 
The online store was opened to those who registered in advance on 15 May, and was publicly opened on 18 May. All editions of the album, an art canvas, and t-shirts displaying the Tubular Bells logo are available.
There was also a special limited edition of 500 signed and numbered copies of the "Ultimate Edition", available from Oldfield's website, but which sold out in under 24 hours. The signed element is a numbered certificate.
Bell-ringing events 
On 6 June at 6pm (a reference to 666) there was a worldwide bell-ringing event; bells were rung in Milan (on MTV), Berlin (Siegessäule), Brussels (Atomium), Paris (the George Pompidou centre), Sydney (Opera House), Japan/Narita (at a Japanese Temple) and London. Official footage has been shown on a YouTube video, linked from Oldfield's website.
One of the events in London was at the British Music Experience at The O2. It featured the 29 piece Handbell Ringers of Great Britain and an Orbular Bells DJ set by The Orb. There was also bell-ringing workshops and competitions. The Orb had previously remixed "Sentinel" from Tubular Bells II.
For the 2009 remix, the following equipment was utilised. A screenshot of the session in Steinberg Nuendo was included in the Ultimate Edition book.
- Steinberg Nuendo 4.2.2
- Apple Mac Pro, 2 x Quad 3 GHz
- 24 Channel Euphonix MC Mix System and one MC Control
- Digidesign 003 + audio interface
- Dynaudio Acoustic Air Series networking 5.1 loudspeaker system
- Solid State Logic Duende
- TC Electronic Powercore
- DVR 2 digital vintage reverb
- Coffee machine (Included in the actual liner notes as a joke by Oldfield)
Live performances 
There have been a number of live performances of the work. It is typically one of the pieces that Oldfield plays at the majority of his concerts, due to its popularity.
The premiere live performance of Tubular Bells was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at 7:45pm 25 June 1973. To coax Oldfield into playing the premiere live performance of Tubular Bells Virgin boss Richard Branson gave Oldfield his Bentley.
2012 Olympics performance 
On 27 July 2012 at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony Mike Oldfield performed during a segment about the NHS. A studio version of this performance appears on the soundtrack album Isles of Wonder. Although listed as "Tubular Bells" / "In Dulci Jubilo", Mike Oldfield's track consists of a number of parts; the first being the introduction piece to his Tubular Bells in its normal arrangement, then this is followed by a rearranged version of that same theme that during interviews Oldfield has called "swingular bells". The piece that is used when children's literature villains appear features two arrangements of "Far Above the Clouds" (from Tubular Bells III), and finally as the Mary Poppins characters appear to drive off the villains, there is a rendition of "In Dulci Jubilo" followed by a short coda.
This version was released as a 500 copy limited edition pink/blue vinyl single on 8 October 2012. This lists the movements as: i. "Tubular Bells (Part One Excerpt)", ii. "Tubular Bells (Part One Swing)", iii. "Tubular Bells (Part Two Excerpt)", iv. "Tubular Bells III (Far Above the Clouds)", v. "Mary Poppins Arrival", vi. "Fanfare for the Isles of Wonder", vii. "In Dulci Jubilo", viii. "Olympic Tubular Bells Coda". This was also released on iTunes as "Tubular Bells / In Dulci Julio (Music from the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games)"
BBC Second House performance 
Footage exists of a live-in-the-studio performance for the BBC, filmed on 30 November 1973, originally broadcast on BBC2 on 1 December, with a cast including Oldfield, his brother Terry (flute), Fred Frith (and other members of Henry Cow), Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, Tom Newman, Mike Ratledge, Mick Taylor, Karl Jenkins and others. It includes a new part for oboe. This has been released on the Elements DVD and is on the 2009 reissue of Tubular Bells.
Live releases 
Live video performances are available on the following releases:
- The Essential Live
- Live at Montreux 1981
- Elements (BBC 2nd House, part one)
- Tubular Bells (2009 reissue, Deluxe/Ultimate Edition, BBC 2nd House, part one)
- The Art in Heaven Concert (only an excerpt from part one)
- 2012 Summer Olympics Highlights DVD/Blu-ray (only an excerpt from part one)
Live audio releases are on the following albums:
- The Orchestral Tubular Bells (orchestral arrangement)
- Night of the Proms 2006/Best of, Volume 2 (CD, excerpt from part one)
- Platinum (2012 reissue, live from Wembley Arena 1980)
- QE2 (2012 reissue, live in Essen 1981)
Cover versions 
Various sections of Tubular Bells have been covered by many artists, with the most used part being the introduction piano piece.
- Lol Coxhill recorded a very short track of "doubled and echoed flexatones" (a flexatone is a hand percussion instrument consisting of two balls striking a piece of metal, which makes a "spooky" sound effect), titled "Tubercular Balls" on his 1974 Caroline Records half-album, ...Oh Really? (the other side being The Story So Far... by Stephen Miller, a.k.a. Steve Miller, ex Caravan; the album is often referred to by a combination of its two titles: The Story So Far ... Oh Really?).
- The Champs Boys Orchestra released a short rendition of Tubular Bells in 1976.
- Metal band Possessed played the intro in the first song of the record Seven Churches (in 1985), which is titled "The Exorcist".
- Paul Hardcastle based his 1985 single "19" around the piano theme of Tubular Bells.
- Another thrash metal band called Death Angel played the main theme in the title track of the album The Ultra-Violence in 1987.
- Book of Love opened their 1988 album Lullaby with a cover version, stretched to 4/4 time by adding stretching a note to make it danceable.
- Ed Starink made an abridged cover for an album Synthesizer Greatest (the first album in a multi-volume series) that was released in 1989. Tubular Bells appears only on the CD-version as a "bonus track". Other tracks on the album are cover versions of famous synthesizer songs but the original Tubular Bells features no synthesizer.
- Symphonic/horror metal band Van Helsing's Curse adapted the introduction of Tubular Bells (in its original meter and a modified version in straight 4/4), along with fragments of In the Hall of the Mountain King and Dies Irae, in their piece, "Tubular Hell."
- Italian Keyboarder Claudio Simonetti covered the song on his Days of Confusion album in 1992.
- American artist Tori Amos has frequently been using the opening Tubular Bells theme in her live shows. It began during the 1996 Dew Drop Inn Tour where she would let "Father Lucifer" segue into Tubular Bells on the piano while singing words from Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" as well as playing it on the harpsichord during songs "Love Song" (a Cure cover) and "Bells for Her" (from the album Under the Pink), usually while mixing in lyrics from a third song such as Björk's "Hyperballad" or "Blue Skies". It appeared again in 2005 as part of "Yes, Anastasia" and on the 2007 tour promoting her album American Doll Posse it was performed with full band as an intro to "Devils and Gods". On the current 2011 tour, promoting her album Night of Hunters it is being performed as the intro to and backing melody for "God."
- Forma Tadre use the intro guitars from the second part of Tubular Bells in their song "Automate" on the 1998 album of the same name. Their version is done with synth and only repeats the first two bars.
- Therapy? jokingly covered the opening theme live in 1998 as part of a medley, which opened with "Tubular Bells", segued into Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law", and ended with their own "Nowhere".
- Duo Sonare, a German classical guitar duo, made a complete re-recording of Tubular Bells for two guitars in 2000.
- Rapper Tech N9ne used a version of the intro in the song "Be Warned" in 2002, only he moved it to 4/4 time.
- Interactivo, led by bandleader Roberto Carcassés, based their 2005 Cuban jazz-funk arrangement entitled Escriba y Lea Con las Tubular Bells on themes from late in the second half of Tubular Bells, Part One.
- Finnish a cappella performer Paska recorded an abridged version for his 2005 album Women Are From Venus, Men From Anus. Paska has also performed the song at his live performances. In a concert on 1 October 2007, before performing it, Ari Peltonen gave a speech about his hatred towards the song and progressive rock.
- Crown Records - iTunes download - A cover of Tubular Bells by the Crown Star Records studio musicians.
- Marcel Bergmann made two arrangements of Tubular Bells "Part One", in 2005 (for two pianos and two synthesizers as well as four pianos); A CD with both versions was released by Brilliant Classics in 2008.
- California Guitar Trio covers most of the first side of the original album on their album Echoes released in late March 2008.
- Tubular Bells for Two - is a music-theatre production created by two Australian multi-instrumentalists, Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth in 2009. The two musicians perform over twenty instruments to recreate the original album 'as faithfully as physically possible'. The show won a Sydney Fringe Award for Best Musical Moment in the 2010 Festival, and has been performed at festivals around Australia and the Pacific. The show made its European debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012, where it won two awards. A DVD has been released of the show, filmed during Sydney Festival 2012.
- Happy Hardcore DJ and producer Trixxy also used the intro melody for the song "Sunrise", released in 1999.
- Charles Hazlewood's All Star Collective have performed Tubular Bells in full while on tour.
- Sarah Brightman used an arrangement of Tubular Bells with lyrics in the song "Closer" on her 2013 album Dreamchaser.
Furthermore, many dance acts and other artists have used the intro to Tubular Bells as the basis for their songs. A long list can be found at Rainer Muenz' discography.
Computer games 
Commodore 64 
With the aid of the software house CRL and distributor Nu Wave, Mike Oldfield released an interactive Commodore 64 version of the album in 1986, which utilised the computer's SID sound chip to play back a simplified re-arrangement of the album, accompanied by some simple 2D visual effects.
The "interactivity" offered by the album/program was limited to controlling the speed and quantity of the visual effects, tuning the sound's volume and filtering, and skipping to any part of the album.
In 2004 Oldfield launched a virtual reality project called Maestro which contains music from the re-recorded Tubular Bells album (Tubular Bells 2003). The original title of the game was The Tube World. This was the second game which was released under the MusicVR banner, the first being Tres Lunas. MusicVR set out to be a real-time virtual reality experience combining imagery and music, as a non-violent and essentially a non-goal driven game.
- Allmusic review
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Further reading 
- Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield (Music score for piano or guitar, analysis by David Bedford, text by Karl Dallas, photos by David Bailey and others). New York, London, Sydney: Wise Publications. ISBN 0-86001-249-2.
- MikeOldfieldOfficial.com – The official Mike Oldfield website
- Tubular Bells store at Band Stores
- Mike Oldfield Discography - Tubular Bells at Tubular.net
- Tubular Bells For Two - a duo that performs a cover of Tubular Bells
Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield
|UK number one album
5 October 1974 – 11 October 1974
Rollin' by Bay City Rollers
Band on the Run by Paul McCartney & Wings
|Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
20 May – 16 June 1974
The Sting (soundtrack) by Various artists