Tubular Bells II is the fifteenth studio album by English guitarist and songwriter Mike Oldfield. It was released on 31 August 1992 by Warner Music UK and is the successor to his debut album Tubular Bells (1973). It was his first album for Warner after having worked with Virgin Records for twenty years. Like its predecessor, Tubular Bells II charted at number 1 in the UK Albums Chart and spun off a top 10 single, "Sentinel".

Tubular Bells II
Studio album by
Released31 August 1992 (1992-08-31)
RecordedJune 1991 – 1992
StudioLos Angeles, California and Oldfield's home studio at 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

Background edit

In January 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.[2] 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 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.[3] The album became Oldfield's best selling album which had continued to sell around 100,000 each year.[4] After releasing Heavens Open (1991), his final album for Virgin, Oldfield felt the time was right to start on a sequel to Tubular Bells. At the same time he signed a two album recording deal with Warner Music UK following negotiations with chairman Rob Dickins.[4][3] 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.[3]

Writing and recording edit

Before Oldfield started to write music for the album, he revisited Tubular Bells and mapped out its composition into different coloured sections.[4] He kept a progress chart in his home studio, writing directly onto the wallpaper in pen; his first entry was in June 1991 when he recorded the first piano figure for the album.[4]

To produce the album, Oldfield chose Trevor Horn with assistance from Tom Newman, who had also helped to produce Tubular Bells. In 2018, Newman stated that when Horn was brought into the project, he insisted that the instruments be sequenced rather than played by hand, which led to a major falling-out between Newman and Horn. Horn was based in Los Angeles at this time, so Oldfield rented a mansion off Doheny Drive for nine months to record the album and had his home studio equipment and mixing desk shipped to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal.[5] Oldfield gave Horn the nickname Dr. Click, because of his insistence in having each part played in time. Oldfield credited Horn in giving the album "rhythm and groove" which he considered a weak spot in his technique and something that the original Tubular Bells had lacked.[4] Oldfield also credited Horn in encouraging him to play with "more feeling [and] love", as he had become accustomed to playing in an angry way. "When I did, the music started to sing instead of growling at you."[5]

When it came to recording the tubular bells for the album, Oldfield underwent a search to find a set he deemed satisfactory enough as he had destroyed the original bells used on Tubular Bells. He was close to giving up until he visited a percussion shop in London's East End, where he "Found a little set, almost like a toy set. And I hit them once and said, 'yeah, that's it'".[4]

Master of Ceremonies edit

The original Tubular Bells featured a section where Vivian Stanshall was the Master of Ceremonies who calls out instruments being played. For Tubular Bells II, Oldfield and the production team were unsure whether to include a similar part for the sequel and various takes were made, including one of Oldfield doing the part, another featuring Horn in a Scouse accent, a "Disneyland-type voice", and the computer HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).[4] In the end, Oldfield enlisted English actor Alan Rickman to introduce the instruments at the end of "The Bell", which concludes the first half. He was chosen for the "Shakespearean" style of his voice.[4] Rickman's role is credited as "a strolling player", because he had not been chosen to take part when the artwork had been completed. On alternative mixes of "The Bell" released as single B-sides, Billy Connolly and Stanshall each played the Master of Ceremonies. On two alternative language B-sides, German comedian MC Otto and Spanish musician MC Carlos Finaly played the Master of Ceremonies in German and Spanish, respectively.

Songs edit

"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.

Unlike the original album there is a recurring theme in Tubular Bells II, first appearing at the end of "Sentinel" that reappears throughout the album, though it is most obvious at the end of "The Bell".

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.

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.

Release and reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]

The album reached number 1 in the chart in the UK and Spain.[3][6][7]

Critical reception to the album was mixed. 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.[8]

Live performance edit

The album was supported with a live concert on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle on 4 September 1992 with 6,000 people in attendance,[9] which aired on national television one hour after its conclusion. It featured Scottish actor John Gordon Sinclair as the Master of Ceremonies.[10] In October 1992, the show was released on home video as Tubular Bells II: The Performance Live at Edinburgh Castle. Oldfield toured the album with his Tubular Bells II 20th Anniversary Tour 1992/93, which visited the US and Europe between March and October 1993.[11]

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

Personnel edit

Charts edit

Certifications and sales edit

Certifications for Tubular Bells II
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada 30,000[26]
France (SNEP)[27] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[28] Gold 250,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[27] Platinum 20,000*
Ireland (IRMA)[27] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[29] 5× Platinum 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] 2× Platinum 600,000^
Worldwide 2,000,000[31]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References edit

  1. ^ a b Tubular Bells II at AllMusic
  2. ^ Oldfield 2008, p. 242.
  3. ^ a b c d Manrique, Diego (1992). "Mike Oldfield has regained his balance back". El Hombre. Retrieved 8 September 2019 – via Tubular.net.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Giles (27 August 1992). "Oh No, It's Tubular Bells II!". The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2019 – via Tubular.net.
  5. ^ a b Gill, Andy (October 1992). "Mad? Us?". Q. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "Tubular Bells 2 Review". Keyboards Magazine. January 1993. Retrieved 25 September 2013. Much of TB2 is glorious, even by comparison to TB1.
  8. ^ "Tubular Bells II Review". Q. September 1992. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Mike Oldfield at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade". Herald Scotland. 5 September 1992. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Tourography 1990". The Official Mike Oldfield Information Service. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
  11. ^ "Mike Oldfield Tours". Tubular.net. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
  12. ^ "Notes on the Musicians". Mike Oldfield. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Charts.nz – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  18. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2015). Sólo éxitos 1959–2012 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 978-84-8048-866-2.
  19. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  20. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2022. 17. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  23. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1992". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts". GfK Entertainment (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  25. ^ "LOS 50 TÍTULOS CON MAYORES VENTAS EN LAS LISTAS DE VENTAS DE AFYVE EN 1993" (PDF) (in Spanish). Anuarios SGAE. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Retail has become a major playing in breaking records" (PDF). RPM. 27 February 1993. p. 3. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  27. ^ a b c Scarangello, Felicia (20 March 1993). "Artist Spotlight" (PDF). Cash Box. p. 8. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Mike Oldfield; 'Tubular Bells II')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "British album certifications – Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells II". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  31. ^ Gillen, Marilyn (5 November 1995). "Oldfield Pioneers Music/Cyberspace Border". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2019.