Mike Oldfield was just 19 years old when he recorded Tubular Bells, the 1973 album consisting of just two long, primarily instrumental tracks for which he played almost all of the instruments himself. The debut album on Richard Branson's fledgling Virgin Records label, Tubular found its audience gradually. When its opening theme was used in director William Friedkin's horror film The Exorcist, sales skyrocketed. Beginning in March 1974, the LP remained in the top ten of the U.K. Albums Chart for a year, including a one-week stay at No. 1. It reached the top in Canada and Australia, too, and peaked at No. 3 in the United States. It has since sold an estimated 15 million copies worldwide, and has received numerous reissues, remasters, remixes, and sequels. Now, on May 26, the Grammy-winning Tubular Bells will return as a 2-LP set to mark its 50th anniversary, while a Blu-ray Audio release will collect a number of mixes of the landmark release.
Oldfield has overseen the new reissue which has been half-speed-mastered at Abbey Road by Miles Showell on the first LP. The second opens with a 2017 demo for a proposed Tubular Bells 4 and continues with a variety of related tracks from over the years including Oldfield's music for the London 2012 Olympic Games (reissued for the first time since a limited-edition single), the "Tubular Beats" remix collaboration with YORK, and "Mike Oldfield's Single (Theme from Tubular Bells)" which was created in response to a bootleg U.S. single. As Oldfield has retired from composing, the eight-minute demo may well be the last music from the Tubular artist.
Mike Oldfield comments in the press release, "Listening again to the musical outpourings of an angst-ridden teenager, it is hard to believe that was actually me, 50 years ago. The music doesn't sound that angst-ridden, but only I know the years of work and stress that produced Tubular Bells. This was all live, first take performances with no second chances or studio trickery as we have become so used to today. Little did I think when I was making Tubular Bells that anyone would ever hear it, let alone be celebrating it five decades later! Thank you to everyone who has listened over the years."
In addition to the 2LP vinyl, Tubular Bells will be reissued as an online-exclusive Blu-ray Audio. Orders are only open for a limited window and the release will be manufactured to order, based on demand. It has numerous versions of the album including a 2023 Dolby Atmos mix by David Kosten; the 2009 surround (5.1) mix by Oldfield; the 1975 quadraphonic (4.0) mix; the original 1973 stereo mix (96/24); a new 2023 stereo mix (48/24) by Kosten; Atmos and Stereo mixes by Kosten of the Tubular Bells Intro - Edit; and the Tubular Bells 4 demo in stereo (48/24).
Lastly, a CD version will be released which mirrors the 2LP track listing but omits "Tubular X" and "Mike Oldfield's Single (Theme from Tubular Bells)." All formats are due on May 26 from Universal Music. We'll add further CD and LP links once they go live.
Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells (Virgin V2001, 1973 - reissued Virgin V2001-50LP, 2023)
- Tubular Bells - Part One (2023 Half-Speed Master by Miles Showell)
- Tubular Bells - Part Two (2023 Half-Speed Master by Miles Showell)
- Tubular Bells 4 Intro (previously unreleased demo 2017)
- Tubular Bells/In Dulci Jubilo (Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games)
- Tubular X
- Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield & YORK Remix)
- Mike Oldfield's Single (Theme From Tubular Bells)