Tubular Bells II

Tubular Bells II August 31st, 1992

Cover by Bill Smith Studio

1. Sentinel 8:06
2. Dark Star 2:16
3. Clear Light 5:47
4. Blue Saloon 2:58
5. Sunjammer 2:32
6. Red Dawn 1:49
7. The Bell 6:55
8. Weightless 5:43
9. The Great Plain 4:46
10. Sunset Door 2:23
11. Tattoo 4:14
12. Altered State 5:12
13. Maya Gold 4:00
14. Moonshine 2:20

Written by: Mike Oldfield

Produced by: Trevor Horn, Mike Oldfield and Tom Newman

Mike Oldfield plays: Electric guitar, Classical guitar, Flamenco guitar, 12 String guitar, Acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, Double speed guitar, Grand piano, Hammond organ, Synthesizers and programming, Timpani, Glockenspiel, Triangle, Tambourine, Cymbals, Toy percussion, Handclaps, Orchestral Bass Drum... Plus, Tubular Bells.

Engineered by: Steve MacMillan, Tom Newman, Tim Weidner and Mike Oldfield. Mixed by: Steve MacMillan and Mike Oldfield. Technical: Richard Barrie. Additional Programming and Digital Sound Processing: Eric Cadieux. Additional Keyboards, Noises and Drum Loops: Jamie Muhoberac. Drums on "Altered Sate": John Robinson. Vocals: Susannah Melvoin, Edie Lehman and Mike Oldfield. Vocal Solo: Sally Bradshaw. Bagpipes: P.D. Scots Pipe Band and Celtic Bevy Band. Master of Ceremonies: A Strolling Player. PA to Mike Oldfield: Jeremy Parker A Trevor Key photograph.


Additional notes from Richard Carter

Notes On The Instruments

Synthesisers - Among the synthesisers that Mike used on this album were the Korg M1, Ensoniq SD1 and Kurzweil K2000.

Tubular Bells - Interestingly, the predominant tubular bell sound on the album is synthesised. It sounds to me very much like a layer which includes the tubular bells patch of a Korg M1. The 'single' mix of 'The Bell' (the Billy Connolly, MC Otto, and all other shortened versions use this mix) shows much more of the natural sound of the real tubular bells. Some of the tubular bell sounds on the album were samples made by Mike and played from his Kurzweil K2000. The bells that Mike used were, I believe, made by Premier.


Notes On The Musicians

John Robinson - session drummer who's played with an absolutely huge number of well known artists. Amongst those are Michael Jackson, George Benson, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood.

Susannah Melvoin - singer who has worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Neil Finn, Roger Waters and Prince. Susannah also writes songs, and co-wrote 'Candy perfume girl' on Madonna's 'Ray of light' album.

Edie Lehman - has worked as a vocalist with Aretha Franklin and Belinda Carlisle, amongst others.

Sally Bradshaw - English soprano, specialising in opera from before 1800, with a great love of Handel, whose operas she hasperformed in worldwide. Recently worked with "The art of noise"

P.D. Scots pipe band - actually pipers from the New York police department. Mike wanted to play down the connection with the New York police, after the riots following the trial of Rodney King. Mike said at the time that, although the pipers themselves were musicians and not 'professional sadistic people', he didn't want their appearance on the album to seem like an act of sympathy towards NYPD, who Mike realised were not too popular at the time.

Jamie Muhoberac - Keyboardist, bassist and programmer. Amongst the names Jamie has worked with include Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker and Iggy Pop.

Eric Cadieux - worked with Trevor Horn in 1991 on Marc Almond's album 'Jacky'. It would seem that Horn drafted in Eric Cadieux to work on Tubular Bells II. Has also worked with Joe Satriani, on his album 'Engines of Creation'. Cadieux is credited for digital sound processing, with the digital sound processor getting a namecheck in 'The Bell'. Of course, a digital sound processor can be anything that processes sound digitally...in addition, most processors don't make sounds of their own. What Mike seems to use is a little synthesiser arpeggio which represents the digital sound processor instead.

A strolling player - this is in fact actor Alan Rickman. Mike apparently tried lots of voices on the album, to introduce the instruments on 'The Bell'. Rickman was chosen in the end, to lend a certain 'Shakespearian' vibe to the track. Some of the other MCs used included Scottish comedian Billy Connolly and Vivian Stanshall, who can be heard introducing the instruments on various single releases of 'The Bell'. A German version, with 'Otto', a German comedian was also released, along with a Spanish version by Carlos Finaly, an English version by Otto and a live version with John Gordon Sinclair, Scottish actor who acted as MC for the Edinburgh premiere of Tubular Bells II.


Other Notes

Certain track titles show a definite nod towards the work of science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke, whose book The Songs of Distant Earth was to be the subject of Mike's next album. This could be to provide a subtle link to Tubular Bells, whose catalogue number V2001 is rumoured to have been inspired by '2001, A Space Odyssey' which was one of Mike's favourite films, and was written by Clarke. The story for 2001 was partly based on several short stories of Clarke's, one of which was The Sentinel, a story where a black pyramid is found on the moon. The name of the first track on Tubular Bells II seems to refer to that story. Sunjammer is another reference, this time to a story now known as 'The wind from the sun', about a solar yacht race. When originally published, however, the story's title was 'Sunjammer'. Other titles may be less direct references to space and science fiction - 'Weightless' and 'Dark Star', for example. Dark Star was also the name of a science fiction film by director John Carpenter, released in 1973, the same year as the original Tubular Bells.

There has been some discussion between fans over the influence of Trevor Horn on the album. According to Trevor Horn, the main influence of the album was definitely Mike's, with him saying: "I'm like a midwife, I'm justthere to help the birth, to ease the child out and make sure it doesn't cause any damage to the mother or to the child basically, that's what producers do. A lot of Tubular Bells II was in Mike's head, so I didn't know what it was going to be, it came out of his head so I couldn't really have a view of what it was going to sound like." He also noted that "Mike's pretty self sufficient - he played nearly everything on Tubular Bells 2 and he can work the board, he can engineer, so there were times when there were three of us sitting along the back of the room; myself, the other guy who produced it with me - Tom Newman - who also produced the first record, and the engineer, on chairs at the back of the room while Mike did everything - played, engineered and we didn't have a clue what was going on." On the choice of Trevor Horn, Mike said "I think maybe people put my music in some sort of bracket or category. You can't categorise it, it's got its own category, and I think somebody as talented as Trevor was a very logical choice to work on it. I've also been a fan of his for a long time, I've loved his productions and I believe perhaps some of my music has been instrumental in inspiring some of those productions.". Mike's reasons for believing that his music had this influence may stem in part from Trevor having once told Mike that he listened to Incantations in his car on the way to work. It does seem, however, that Horn did steer things away slightly from the plans Mike and Tom Newman originally had, which were more similar in spirit to the recording of the original Tubular Bells, and of Amarok. Not all fans thank Trevor Horn for this changing of course. From what Mike says, it appears that Trevor Horn did attempt to have the piano parts performed by another musician, instead of by Mike: "I'm not really a pianist, I'm not a pianist at all but I have got a way of feeling music - I start playing a piece of music and I'm off into this different world. Trevor kept saying "Well, we ought to get a real pianist to play that"and I said "Well, alright, I'll try it, let's listen to a real pianist". In comes a real pianist, the real pianist played it really and we all sort of went "Hmm..." you know, it just doesn't sound unique, it didn't sound like my music any more, 'cause I wasn't playing it, so it seems as if I have some sort of style which gives it my character, so I have to play it myself." A track, Early Stages, was released of an embryonic form of Sentinel, as a B side to the sentinel single. It presents a recording made before the arrival of Trevor Horn on the project. The track has a much darker, moodier sound than the final album, much closer in feel to the original Tubular Bells. It seems that Horn's influence turned Tubular Bells II into a much more light, airy sounding album, free of much of the aggression of the first album. Certain files that circulate on the internet are known as the 'De-Trevored Tubular Bells II'. They, it seem, also came from before Horn's arrival. It is rumoured they were leaked by an inside source to show what Horn's influence on the album had been.

Virgin had been pushing Mike to do a Tubular Bells II for years. After the success of Tubular Bells, Richard Branson was keen for the follow-up to be called Tubular Bells II, but Mike wasn't keen on the idea. It has also been said that Branson wanted Amarok released as Tubular Bells II, but again this was against Mike's wishes (Amarok being an experiment into sequels prior to TB2, with Mike choosing Ommadawn to sequel, though in the end Mike arrived at something rather different from an Ommadawn II.)

© Richard Carter 2001