Tubular Bells II

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Tubular Bells II
Mike oldfield tubular bells 2 album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released31 August 1992 (1992-08-31)
RecordedLos Angeles, California and Roughwood Croft, Chalfont St Giles
GenreProgressive rock, new-age[1]
Mike Oldfield chronology
Heaven's Open
Tubular Bells II
The Songs of Distant Earth
Tubular Bells series chronology
The Orchestral Tubular Bells
Tubular Bells II
Tubular Bells III
Singles from Tubular Bells II
  1. "Sentinel"
    Released: 21 September 1992
  2. "Tattoo"
    Released: 7 December 1992
  3. "The Bell"
    Released: 5 April 1993

Tubular Bells II is the fifteenth studio album by English multi-instrumentalist and composer Mike Oldfield. It was released on 31 August 1992 by WEA and Reprise Records as the successor to his debut album, Tubular Bells (1973). After his contract with Virgin Records ended at the end of 1991, Oldfield signed with Warner and started work on a sequel to Tubular Bells. In 1998, Oldfield released Tubular Bells III.

The album charted at number 1 in the UK as did its precursor. It is Oldfield's third number one album (after Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge) and, as of 2018, his last number one album to date.


In December 1991 Oldfield's contract with Virgin Records expired, thus ending a partnership that had lasted since 1972 as the first musician signed to the label. Virgin had pressed Oldfield to produce a sequel to his debut album Tubular Bells (1973) for a number of years but Oldfield resisted, partly due to his increasing dissatisfaction in Virgin's efforts to promote his albums and his rift with its co-founder Richard Branson. Oldfield also felt that making a sequel in the 1970s, so soon after its release, would have been "far too obvious" and may lead to creative burnout.[2] The album became Oldfield's best selling album which had continued to sell around 100,000 each year.[3] After releasing Heavens Open (1991), his final album for Virgin, Oldfield felt the time was right to start a sequel to Tubular Bells. Before the writing began he revisited the material on the original album and mapped its composition into different coloured sections. He signed an two album recording deal with Rob Dickins, chairman of the UK division of Warner Music.[3][2] Oldfield praised management at Warner for expressing interest in his music and offering constructive suggestions that would help sales without feeling "tied by them", as opposed to Virgin.[2]

For Tubular Bells II Oldfield enlisted the help of Tom Newman, who had helped produce the original, as well as established producer Trevor Horn (known for his work with The Buggles, Yes and Art of Noise). "Early Stages" which is an early version of what would become "Sentinel" was included as a B-side to the single version of "Sentinel". "Early Stages" has a somewhat darker mood and is from the pre-Trevor Horn development of the album, possibly showing the kind of influence that Horn had.

At the Tubular Bells 45th Anniversary convention in the UK on 9 June 2018, Tom Newman stated that when Horn was brought in, he immediately started insisting that instruments be sequenced rather than played by hand. This led to a major falling-out between Newman and Horn.

Tubular Bells comparisons[edit]

Tubular Bells II partly follows musical structures of the original Tubular Bells (1973). Themes of the original Bells are taken and then completely re-composed and played with mostly new instruments. The result is an album that has the same kind of thematic variation but is still new musically. Some themes can be seen as variations of themes taken from the original Bells, while some other parts of Tubular Bells II do not have much in common with the themes of the original album except their overall mood or feeling.

Unlike Tubular Bells there is a recurring theme, first appearing at the end of "Sentinel" that reappears throughout the album, though it is most obvious at the end of "The Bell". A reprise of this recurring theme was also used as an encore in all of the 1992 and 1993 Tubular Bells II Live concerts. Also unlike the original ending coda, "The Sailor's Hornpipe", "Moonshine" is an original composition by Oldfield.

In 1998 another sequel followed, Tubular Bells III, and in 2003 Oldfield recorded a new version of the original Tubular Bells, as Tubular Bells 2003.

Master of Ceremonies[edit]

The introduction of the instruments at the end of the first half of the album was done by British actor Alan Rickman, although his role was credited merely to "a strolling player" because the voice had not been picked when the artwork was produced. The Master of Ceremonies at the premiere concert in Edinburgh was John Gordon Sinclair.

On alternative mixes of "The Bell" released as single B-sides, Billy Connolly and Vivian Stanshall (the voice in the original Tubular Bells) each played the Master of Ceremonies. On two alternative language B-sides of "The Bell", MC Otto and MC Carlos Finally played the Master of Ceremonies in German and Spanish respectively.

Track titles[edit]

Some of the track titles for the album were taken from Arthur C. Clarke's short stories, including "The Sentinel" and "Sunjammer". Other track titles could just be references to science-fiction or space in general, such as "Dark Star" and "Weightless". Dark Star is also the title of a sci-fi film by John Carpenter which was released in the same year as the original Tubular Bells, 1973.

Oldfield has occasionally called some of the tracks on the album by different names in interviews, such as once when he performed "Red Dawn" on BBC Radio 2 he called it "Russian". The title "Russian" was also later given to the equivalent piece on the re-recorded version of the original Tubular Bells, Tubular Bells 2003.

Album artwork[edit]

Tubular Bells II again uses the bent metallic tube (representing a bent tubular bell) as the focus of the album artwork. The bell is a golden colour on a dark blue background as opposed to Tubular Bells' grey/silver bell on top of a sea/skyscape. Both the photos for Tubular Bells and Tubular Bells II were produced by Trevor Key.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]

Critical reception to the album was mixed, although the album reached number 1 in the album charts in a number of countries.[4][5] Writing in Q magazine, Mat Snow described it as a "more consistent but less tune-happy musical sequence than TBI" and praised "producer Trevor Horn's fairy dust" as an advantage.[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1992) Position
UK Albums Chart 1
Spain 1 [7]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany (BVMI)[8] Gold 250,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[9] 5× Platinum 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] 2× Platinum 600,000^
Worldwide 2,000,000[11]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Live concerts[edit]

The album was premiered with a live performance on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle on 4 September 1992 with John Gordon Sinclair as Master of Ceremonies.[12] The North American premiere was held at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 1 March 1993; a world tour then followed. Following this Oldfield did not perform live in concert for nearly five years, until the premiere of Tubular Bells III in 1998 and then his Then & Now Tour in 1999.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Mike Oldfield.

Side one
2."Dark Star"2:16
3."Clear Light"5:48
4."Blue Saloon"2:59
6."Red Dawn"1:50
7."The Bell"6:59
Side two
9."The Great Plain"4:47
10."Sunset Door"2:23
12."Altered State"5:12
13."Maya Gold"4:01



  1. ^ a b Tubular Bells II at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b c Manrique, Diego (1992). "Mike Oldfield has regained his balance back". El Hombre. Retrieved 8 September 2019 – via Tubular.net.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Giles (27 August 1992). "Oh No, It's Tubular Bells II!". The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2019 – via Tubular.net.
  4. ^ "Tubular Bells II Review". Melody Maker. 19 September 1992. Retrieved 25 September 2013. As follow-ups go, it's probably safe to remark that this does not rank alongside Godfather II, French Connection II, or even, God help us, Exorcist II - The Heretic. In short, it's appalling.
  5. ^ "Tubular Bells 2 Review". Keyboards Magazine. January 1993. Retrieved 25 September 2013. Much of TB2 is glorious, even by comparison to TB1.
  6. ^ "Tubular Bells II Review". Q. September 1992. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  7. ^ Diego Manrique (1992). "Mike Oldfield has regained his balance back". MAN "El Hombre". Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Mike Oldfield; 'Tubular Bells II')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  9. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 935. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  10. ^ "British album certifications – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 May 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Tubular Bells II in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  11. ^ Gillen, Marilyn (5 November 1995). "Oldfield Pioneers Music/Cyberspace Border". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Tourography 1990". The Official Mike Oldfield Information Service. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Mike Oldfield Tours". Tubular.net. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
  14. ^ "Notes on the Musicians". Mike Oldfield. Retrieved 30 January 2012.

External links[edit]