One of the most heart-warming moments for me of late, occurred during the London Olympic Opening Ceremony and that was the inclusion of Mike Oldfield and his live renditions of parts of ‘Tubular Bells’. Despite his global profile, his name is not one that automatically springs to mind when a list of GB musical greats is mooted amongst the likes of The Who, Beatles and Kinks. Yet he probably represents the essence of British individuality (some may say eccentricity) more than most – who else do you know who would lock himself away with a reel-to-reel recorder, endlessly overdubbing for months on end?
I freely admit that those opening bars to Tubular Bells sent shivers down my spine and consequently, I dug out my CD copy and have been playing it ever since. However, I am also hideously guilty of ignoring him as an artist as despite a career of 40 years and 25-odd albums, I only own the ubiquitous ‘Tubular Bells’…and one other; ‘Ommadawn’ from 1975.
Quite why I decided to buy ‘Ommadawn’ and nothing else is quite beyond me. I have no memory whatsoever of actually buying the thing, yet I remember playing it a lot during my student days. Looking at the comments on Amazon, it seems that it is a well-liked album so perhaps I made the correct decision but is does beg the question; why?
This only-buying-one-album thing seems to happen to me quite a lot but usually there is a perfectly rational explanation. The obvious one is that the album has been prefaced by a killer single. On many occasions this has led to an album purchase from someone I would generally avoid, hence the one purchase only from a long career. Alternatively a friend lends me an album on a you’ll-like-this basis and it turns out that I do. But in the strange case of ‘Ommadawn’, none of this happened. I didn’t borrow it and I can’t believe I heard anything from it on the radio, so what was it that propelled me into a record store to buy it?
I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but I do know why I have just purchased the 2010 remix on CD. It is because;
a) I have been inspired by the Olympic Ceremony performance
b) I wanted to replace my vinyl copy of a well loved album, and
c) I was interested to see what Oldfield’s new mix sounded like
See, it’s easy when you have a reason or two and just for the record, the 2010 remix is fabulous – including the strangely naïve yet charmingly beautiful, ‘On Horseback’. Now about all these other one-off albums I seem to have…