Tubular Bells is reborn in a new live super group performance!
Exclusive Interview with Charles Hazlewood (Part 2)
What made Tubular Bells such an iconic album?
CH: Well, I think it was partly that no one has ever heard anything quite like that before, and also that was in the days when the prog rock bands were full of virtuosos imposturing and showing off their combined talents whereas there was this one chap, very young, doing the lot himself and I think that in itself is pretty remarkable. He recorded the whole album, every part, every instrument, every track.
Of course Richard Branson was the man that made it happen. He was the man on a mission. He just bought and kitted out the Manor in Oxfordshire for recording and he got Mike Oldfield in that building and said go for it, conquer, and so he did.
It's the fact that the album was Virgin's first signing, the first album released, and it has a whole might of a young Branson behind it. Then of course, let's not forget William Friedkin who decided to use the iconic first passage of Tubular Bells for the Exorcist, the horror that defined the decade.
So I suppose those few factors...brand new, embryonic Virgin and the Exorcist combined made this album really strike deep into the heart of British cultural life....and as a result, ever since, it has been one of the core pieces of our national cultural DNA.
What is bizarre about the album as a whole actually, is that it's got so many episodes which don't really relate to each other particularly...its almost like Oldfield poured out all the different little riffs, all the different little ideas which he has been storing up in his brain since he was in his early teens.
How does Tubular Bells album stand the test of time?
CH: It has influenced many musicians and it continues to do so. The reason I still think it's big today is because of its history, the fact that it caused such a seismic explosion when it erupted on the world in 1973, plus the Exorcist of course, which has kept the memory alive. I think people remember it with huge fondness... well, everybody in the country pretty much will have a story to tell about Tubular Bells. They will remember where they were when they first heard it. It just has the kind of resonance with British people...once its gone in your brain its very hard to get it out. It's quite an extraordinary achievement.
In our concerts next week we are going to be playing the piece by Terry Riley which has influenced Mike Oldfield and also many other musicians. A Rainbow in Curved Air is a piece of most initially sensual but nonetheless quite rigurous minimalism in that it takes very tiny kind of germ cells of melodies and amplifies them through repetition, through phasing, through building up these glistening walls of sound, through application of more and more of these little cells on top of each other. Oldfield was really affected by that and obviously that's what provided him with the information to create the first part of Tubular Bells.