The Making Of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells by Richard Newman review

How a prog classic was got together in the country

Cover art for The Making Of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells by Richard Newman review

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“It was as much to do with taking [Mike] down the pub and getting him drunk on Guinness as it was to making suggestions about having fifty mandolins,” engineer Tom Newman says of getting Tubular Bells made.

Richard Newman’s deep interviews with Newman, fellow engineer Simon Heyworth and (less extensively) Oldfield back in 1992 form a mostly oral history, remembering the hippie magic at work in The Manor, Britain’s first, blissfully rustic residential studio, where these untried young men pushed the possibilities of tape.

Although Oldfield believes he was suffering a nervous breakdown, his collaborators’ wonder on first hearing the Bells demo is clear in conversations so bucolically wistful, it’s as if they’re still in the Manor. The “world of mythology, magic and deep emotions” author Newman found in the album are further brought out in an otherwise slim book by Heyworth’s session snaps and photographer Fran May’s evocative landscape photos.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).