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I must say that I am a huge fan of TB1 and it sat at No1 in my personal all time chart for years until this beastie unleashed itself. After a disapointing TB2, I took the plunge to purchase this album as I know that Mr O is a excellent musician. No disapointment here. Its fresh, slightly clubby, with enough of Mr O's skill to put it firmly at the top of his catalogue. I love all of the album but Man in the Rain just does it for me. Where does Mike find all these great vocalists? It's a bit Moonlight Shadow, but hey I loved that record too. Top of the morning has a great Piano intro that makes me think of green fields after the rain and the last track, Far above the clouds has some great overlays that just defy all logic - how does this guy do it? If you didn't rate TB2 too well ( I didn't) don't be put off buying this - it's blinding.
It has been said that Mike Oldfield albums with 'Tubular Bells' in the title sell and Mike Oldfield Albums without 'Tubular Bells' in the title don't. Hence the title for this album. Unlike TB2, I don't think it is a re-work of the original, but I do think it is an excellent album and if you like Mike's music, you will almost certainly like this one. The album is primarily instrumental with some vocals included, as usual for their sound rather than their meaning, plus there is one song called Man In The Rain, the backing track of which, sounds suspiciously like that of Moonlight Shadow. IMO it is a better song though. As another reviewer mentioned, it does have a club feel in a couple of the tracks, no doubt influenced by Mike's time living in Ibiza, but don't be put off by this. It is still very 'Oldfieldy' and as always, his guitaring is unmistakable. In my experience people either love or loath Mike's music and there's not much in between. So my recommendation is that you buy or ignore this album depending upon which category you fit into.
I am a fan of the original Tubular Bells, and Tubular Bells II, but I was put off Tubular Bells III by reading a couple of bad reviews and so it took me a long time to buy it. However, I saw it going cheap in a shop one day so I took the plunge. I needn't have worried. It's brilliant! Some of the tracks do have a bit of a 'club' feel to them, but not all. Some people might think that Mike Oldfield is just mercilessly cashing in on the success of the original 'Tubular Bells', but I like the re-worked albums and they are different enough to be interesting. Best tracks are 'Outcast' (an excellent re-working of 'that guitar bit' from side one) and 'Top of The Morning' - a great piano piece. I must admit, Oldfield does cheat a bit with this album. For example it does not include a track where the instruments are introduced one-by-one (he did this on both the previous albums) and he's included 'Man In The Rain' (which is a kind of 'Moonlight Shadow Part II'). However, this is still a great album and if you've been put off, don't be!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Tubular Bells
2 Hergest Ridge
4 Phaeacian Games
5 Star's End
6 Rio Grande
7 First Excursion
10 In Dulci Jubilo
11 Speak (Tho You Only Say Farewell)