(All Album Reviews by maribor)
This is the album that started it all. Mike Oldfield's career shot into space after this album's unbelievable success. Tubular Bells stayed at the number one spot in the English charts for several weeks and the sales figures (several millions copies sold) are quite staggering for a progressive record. It's amazing if you think that a 17 year old, basically inexperienced musician created this record. Naturally, there are bound to be some weak spots and patchy segments but that's pretty much true of any debut album.
The first movement starts with the famous »Exorcist« theme and works up to a nice peak somewhere around the middle of the song. Some of the melodies are really beautiful and the composition is incredibly mature for such a young composer. There are several moments when a certain theme stretches on for a bit too long. This is one of the biggest problems I have with this album. Another is that Oldfield's playing can be a bit erratic at times. He seems to fly into some crazy solo at any given moment. A lack of experience I guess or maybe simply enthusiasm. But this problem would be remedied on his subsequent albums, most notably Ommadawn. The final segment of the first moving is also way too long with the presentation of all the instruments that are played on the record.
The second movement is my favourite of the two. Oldfield doesn't dwell on one melody for too long and the melodies themselves are more perfected. I even enjoy the wacky “Sailor's Hornpipe” section at the end of the movement. I don't like the »Ork« singing all that much though. It somewhat ruins a very beautiful section, and one of the more diverse ones at that.
This record would have several follow-ups in Tubular Bells 2 and 3 but none would reach the artistic value of the original. There is also an innocence and playfulness in the type of melodies and in the style of composing that is very endearing.
I find it incredible that such an album was such a huge chart success. Two movements of over 20 minutes would spell disaster nowadays. I suppose in the 70s it was different. Experimentation was actually encouraged and if bands like Yes and ELP could have high-selling albums why not a novice with a unique style, combining rock, folk, classical and several other genres.
8.5 out of 10. One of the best debut albums ever.