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Music: Mike Oldfield
One slightly...distorted guitarist.

Mike Oldfield (1953-) is an eclectic musician who has, in the span of a career going into its fifth decade, explored various musical genres. Mostly famous for his 1973 album Tubular Bells, His Signature Style is the use of overdubbing in studio recordings, which allows him to play most or all of the instruments on a given piece — a practice that was much less widespread when he began using it. Although he has done several radio-friendly pop singles, his better-known works are long instrumentals, occasionally clocking in at one hour of continuous music.


Selected discography:

  • Tubular Bells (1973)
    • The Orchestral Tubular Bells (1975)
  • Hergest Ridge (1974)
    • The Orchestral Hergest Ridge (1976) (will never be released for various reasons) note 
  • Ommadawn (1975)
  • Incantations (1978)
  • Exposed (1979) (his only live album)
  • Platinum (1979)
  • QE2 (1980)
  • Five Miles Out (1982)
  • Crises (1983)
  • Discovery (1984)
  • The Killing Fields (1984)
  • Islands (1987)
  • Earth Moving (1989)
  • Amarok (1990)
  • Heaven's Open (1991)
  • Tubular Bells II (1992), Master of Ceremonies: Alan Rickman
  • The Songs of Distant Earth (1994)
  • Voyager (1996)
  • Tubular Bells III (1998)
  • Guitars (1999)
  • The Millennium Bell (1999)
  • Tr3s Lunas (2002)
  • Tubular Bells 2003 (2003)
  • Light + Shade (2005)
  • Music of the Spheres (2008)
  • Tubular Beats (2013) (remix album)
  • Man on the Rocks (2014)

(Tropes partaining to Tubular Bells or its sequels go on the Tubular Bells page)

This musician contains examples of:

  • Band of Relatives: Both types.
    • Type 1: Occasionally recorded with his sister Sally (vocals) and brother Terry (winds) on solo albums, and his son Luke (guitar) played with him at the Olympics (see below).
    • Type 2: Mike and Sally were a folk duo, The Sallyangie, years before Tubular Bells and released one album as said duo.
  • Colbert Bump: Has been on the giving and recieving end of this:
    • The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band probably wouldn't be half as well known if it wasn't for Vivian Stanshall doing the narration of Tubular Bells.
    • This very page wasn't created until Mike was mentioned in a Cracked article
    • He's also gotten a recent bump in notoriety thanks to having one of his new songs featured in the E3 2014 trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
  • Creator Backlash: Notably averted for anything in his entire discography. Even Tubular Bells, which is basically the only thing he's known for note , is exempt. In his words: "It's a great song, I don't mind if people know me for it"
    • Almost played straight with Heaven's Open. He's called it "a turkey of an album" and laments that it was a nightmare to produce; However, he is appreciative of fans who enjoy it.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Amarok uses, among many other things, shoes, a glass of water, teeth being brushed, and the "contents of an aeromodeller's toolbox".
  • Glory Days: Oldfield released his greatest hit within his debut album. While he has released several other respectable hits, none has really matched it in terms of critical success or musical influence.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Any of his worldier pieces will contain this.
  • I Am the Band: He played most of the instruments on many of his earlier albums.
  • Instrumentals: Many of his albums and other side-long suites are either instrumental or contain brief vocals or chants (relative to the total length of the piece):
    • His first four albums were all instrumental, save for a few minutes of Ommadawn in Part 1 and its epilogue, "On Horseback", Incantations in Parts 2 and 4, and though not sung, the instrument introductions in Tubular Bells. Then there's the Platinum title track, QE2, 90% of "Taurus 2", the Tubular Bells sequels...the list goes on.
  • Leitmotif: In addition to the aforementioned re-recordings, the intro to Tubular Bells has been recycled in some of his later works, such as "Taurus 2", which itself has riffs recycled in other songs of Five Miles Out.
  • Live Album: Exposed
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Moonlight Shadow" and "Crime of Passion".
  • New Sound Album: There's a pretty good chance one Oldfield album is quite different than the one right before it. Even his first four albums, despite all being record-long pieces, had some remarkable diversity to them: Tubular Bells was mostly of rock instrumention (minus drums save for five minutes in part two), Hergest Ridge was much more pastoral and laid-back, Ommadawn added synthesizers and folk percussion to his arrangements, and Incantations used full string and brass ensembles, and was generally a slower-paced work, most influenced by minimalism of all his albums. Later albums featured full-on experiments in different styles, such as the electronic Light and Shade and the orchestral Music of the Spheres, his first project focused entirely on the orchestra.
  • Not Christian Rock: Although he uses various religious themes in his music, when asked, he'll describe himself as "spiritual", rather than religious.
  • Olympic Games: Composed and performed for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London games...plus the biggest and loudest tubular bells in Europe.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Wrote the soundtrack for The Killing Fields.
  • Repurposed Christmas Carol: "In Dulci Jubilo" was originally a folk carol before Mike turned it into an instrumental showcase. Repurposed a second time when he used it the aforementioned Olympics segment honoring England's National Health Service, featuring Mary Poppins and Voldemort of all characters.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: His 1991 album Heaven's Open is the only album where Oldfield performs all the vocal parts on his own. He reportedly took singing lessons before recording it, and was pleasantly surprised by his own voice, as he used to think of himself as a bad singer.
    • Before that, On Horseback from Ommadawn in 1975 had the song On Horseback, which was sung/spoken by him; later the title tracks of Five Miles Out and Crises.
  • Take That:
    • Amarok is one huge one directed to Richard Branson, whose relationship to Mike became very icy by the late 80s...
      • Branson demanded Oldfield write a Tubular Bells sequel and Oldfield gave him about the farthest thing from it possible.
      • Tubular bells were in fact played on the album, but Oldfield called them "long, thin metallic hanging tubes".
      • The real Tubular Bells II wouldn't be written and released until directly after Oldfield's split from Virgin Records.
      • For sixty minutes of music, it was divided into 48 sections and was arranged so that it was almost impossible to market any parts of it on the radio.
      • "This record could be hazardous to the health of cloth-eared nincompoops. If you suffer from this condition, consult your Doctor immediately."
      • "FUCK OFF RB" in Morse Code.
      • The Margaret Thatcher impersonator talking about "fresh beginnings" and how "nothing much is happening at the moment" towards the end of the album.
    • The oft-forgotten Heaven's Open (the only album Mike did all the lead vocals for) also has quite a few at Branson:
      • It's the only album to be credited to "Michael Oldfield"
      • The first song, "Make Make" has the lines "We're on the make make | Don't mind, it's fake fake | We're on the make make | We're making heartbreak" and "Don't you know we're not Virgin?"
      • The third song, "Mr. Shame", asks the titular character to "embrace love", most likely referring to Branson.
      • "Gimme Back" has Mike asking for various body parts back.
      • The last song, "Music From The Balcony" ends with someone laughing and saying "Now fuck off!" It's also about a one-third scale spiritual sequel to Amarok—try finding an excerpt of this one to put on radio.
  • Uncommon Time: But of course, he's a progressive rock musician.
    • Tubular Bells is one of the most famous examples of this in popular music, with the beginning riff switching between 7/8 and 8/8.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Pick any album or tour from the 80s. Sometimes Mike was on the team, and sometimes he wasn't.

The OffspringCreator/Epic RecordsOrchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
New York DollsRockOpeth
Neu!Progressive RockOpeth
New York DollsMusic of the 1970sTubular Bells

alternative title(s): Mike Oldfield
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