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Music / Tubular Bells III

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"And the Man in the Rain picked up his Bag of Secrets, and journeyed up the mountainside far above the clouds, and nothing was ever heard from him again— except for the sound of Tubular Bells." [DONNNNNNNGGG!]

Tubular Bells III, released in 1998 through WEA, is the eighteenth album by English Progressive Rock multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield. A sequel to his 1992 album Tubular Bells II, the album stands as the third and final mainline entry in the Tubular Bells series (discounting the 1999 interquel The Millennium Bell, the 2003 re-recording of the first Tubular Bells, and the Remix Album Tubular Beats). Unlike II, which was for all intents and purposes a loose remake of the first entry in the series, III is far different in structure, tone, and composition, being far more electronically-oriented and only carrying over the most basic musical motifs from the original Tubular Bells. Interestingly, the album also acts as a nod back to Oldfield's post-Incantations, pre-Tubular Bells II output, featuring the radio-friendly "Man in the Rain" as an interlude for what is very much the most experimental entry in the Tubular Bells franchise.

Released just shortly after the 25th anniversary of the original Tubular Bells, the album's structure and tone was heavily inspired by the club scene in Ibiza, where the album was recorded, and appropriately makes prominent use of acid house and Drum and Bass elements. The album also features a much greater amount of guest stars than before, including Amar, Cara Dillon, and Clodagh Simonds. Because of this, it stands as a major outlier compared to the orchestral-inspired direction of the first two Tubular Bells albums to the point where one would not be able to tell it was part of the series in passing. Consequently, it ended up being the least successful of the main trilogy, peaking at only No. 4 on the UK Albums chart compared to the chart-topping performances of its predecessors. Despite this, it still went quadruple-platinum in Spain and gold in the UK.

Tubular Bells III was supported by two singles: "Man in the Rain" and "Far Above the Clouds".


  1. "The Source of Secrets" (5:35)
  2. "The Watchful Eye" (2:09)
  3. "Jewel in the Crown" (5:45)
  4. "Outcast" (3:49)
  5. "Serpent Dream" (2:53)
  6. "The Inner Child" (4:41)
  7. "Man in the Rain" (4:03)
  8. "The Top of the Morning" (4:26)
  9. "Moonwatch" (4:25)
  10. "Secrets" (3:20)
  11. "Far Above the Clouds" (5:30)

"You're no loser, there's still time to ride that trope"

  • Book Ends: "Far Above the Clouds" ends with the same synthesized whistle that begins "The Source of Secrets". The song also provides a bookend with the Tubular Bells trilogy as a whole, revolving around a variation of the opening theme for the original Tubular Bells.
  • Breather Episode: "Man in the Rain", an upbeat, conventional radio-friendly piece in the middle of an intense, experimental album.
  • Color Motifs: Silver prominently features throughout the album art and liner notes, even extending to the disc label.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Done with nearly every track on the album, save for "The Inner Child" → "Man in the Rain" → "The Top of the Morning".
  • Gratuitous Panning:
    • The synth squelches in "The Source of Secrets" repeatedly alternate between channels at varying speeds.
    • "The Inner Child" begins with a recording of children playing, panning from the left channel to the right before Rosa Cedrón's vocals kick in.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: The bent-bell logo from Tubular Bells and Tubular Bells II returns here, going back to its silver coloration but against a silver background this time and with a slightly different shape to it.
  • Instrumentals: With the exception of "Man in the Rain".
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The album is radically different from Tubular Bells and Tubular Bells II in every way possible, having none of the sonic and structural elements of its predecessors and only carrying over a few basic motifs. Had it not been called Tubular Bells III, it'd be easy for one to forget that it's a part of the Tubular Bells series to begin with.
  • Metal Scream: Oldfield closes out "Outcast" with one, harking back to the "Piltdown Man" vocals on the "Caveman" section of "Tubular Bells (Part Two)" and "Altered State".
  • New Sound Album: While not out-of-line for Oldfield's WEA-era output, the mix of Progressive Rock with Drum and Bass and acid house definitely makes III an example of this compared to the first two Tubular Bells albums.
  • One-Woman Wail: Amar and Rosa Cedrón's parts on the album consist solely of this.
  • Production Throwback:
    • Tying in with the album's release just after the 25th anniversary of the original Tubular Bells, samples from many of Oldfield's prior albums feature throughout Tubular Bells III: "Man in the Rain" features sampled drums from "Moonlight Shadow", "Outcast" features sampled drums from "Shadow on the Wall", and "Far Above the Clouds" features sampled drums from the end of "Ommadawn (Part One)". "Far Above the Clouds" also samples the rhythm guitar from the "Finale" section of "Tubular Bells (Part One)".
    • "Man in the Rain" repeats the structure of "Moonlight Shadow" from his 1983 album Crises; the song was first penned shortly after "Moonlight Shadow", which explains the similarities. The song also reprises elements of the Title Track to Oldfield's 1991 album Heaven's Open, also an aftereffect of its prolonged development (as a 1987 demo of "Man in the Rain" was used as the basis for "Heaven's Open").
  • Siamese Twin Songs: The album consists almost entirely of these, barring "Man in the Rain".
  • Special Guest: A number of guest vocalists feature throughout the album:
    • "The Source of Secrets", "Jewel in the Crown", and "Secrets" feature Amar.
    • "The Inner Child" features a One-Woman Wail courtesy of Luar na Lubre vocalist Rosa Cedrón.
    • "Man in the Rain" features main vocals from Cara Dillon.
    • "Far Above the Clouds" features vocals from Clodagh Simmons and a spoken-word part by Francesca Robertson.
  • Title Drop: "Far Above the Clouds":
    Child: And the Man in the Rain picked up his Bag of Secrets, and journeyed up the mountainside far above the clouds, and nothing was ever heard from him again— except for the sound of Tu-bu-lar Bells.