The Twisted Bell

My thoughts on Mike's three later albums, lifted from private emails.

Tubular Bells III

Date: Thu Sep 24 12:40:01 1998
Subject: Re: TB3

Listened to it three times so far. I'm highly addicted to 'The Inner Child', and FATC and Outcast are up there too (though I agree that the latter sounds like a parody of his past SOTW style); 'Serpent Dream' isn't bad, nor is 'Top of the Morning' except that it's rather 'Mike does The Piano'-ish. MITR is okay, standard Mike pop music (where does he find all these Maggie Reilly sound-alikes?). The rest is fine enough, although 'Moonwatch' and 'Watchful Eye' are pretty forgettable.

It seems to work as a whole. I can even see that it has enough relation to the TB genre to justify the title - down to the bassline at the end of FATC - but the question still remains about why he felt the need to do it. I'd agree more with the comments that it's like a rehash of just about everything he's done, especially his 80s albums (with a shot of TSODE here and there). Still, it's an improvement on Voyager, and the ample guitar leaves me hopeful about the next album. Not that I'm wanting to sell TB3 short - I think I'll end up liking it quite a bit (and some of it even moreso).


Date: Thu Sep 24 14:13:04 1998
Subject: Fantastic!

...TB3, that is...

Since I wrote this morning, I've listened to it on the computer here at work another few times, and it's really growing on me. It's really only 'Moonwatch' that lets the side down a little (the side two, to be precise).

I-III build nicely, IV-VIII make an impressive progression of excellent tracks, IX is a little flat but X recovers well, and XI is, as you already know, brilliant...

I'd have to say that this is his best since TB2.



Date: Fri Jul 09 14:42:23 1999
Subject: Country 'Guitars'...

So, what do you think of 'Guitars'? I've been playing it over and over here in the office. It sits somewhere in the mid-range for me; not bad, not great. Not 'Amarok', and not even TB3, but it does have some good moments ('Out of Mind' is my favourite). Bit of a western feel to it, isn't there? 'Cochise' and 'Four Winds', I'm thinking of; western movie soundtracks, that is, not country and western (thank God).


The Millennium Bell

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 12:16:32 +1100
Subject: The Bellennium Mill

Finally had a chance to buy TMB yesterday and sneak in one-and-a-half listens last night. I think I'll have to make a tape of it and take it down to Tassie with me for proper perusal. (Wrong word really - perusal pertains to sight; what would the aural equivalent be - arousal? ;)

On first exposure, I like 'The Doge's Palace', even though it sounds like 'Hooked on Classics' (or perhaps because it does - all those lounge CDs are affecting my judgement), and 'Lake Constance', and various bits and pieces elsewhere. I find 'Sunlight' a little too Top 40, but the tune's nice enough. The album-reprise is a bit sappy, too, although I like the basic dance track. Hmm... I did like 'Liberation' rather a lot, and 'Pacha Mama' was good too.

I can't really judge it much yet though, after only one full listen. Right at the moment I wouldn't agree that it's the best since Amarok (TB3 holds that title for me, I think), but I'm prepared to wait and see; it's certainly not bad, and more interesting than Guitars (although it mimics Guitars with that crappy two-second-finale effect at the end, which certainly is no match for Amarok). Needless to say it's also more interesting than Voyager. As for TSODE and TB2... hmmm... they were good too... it's a tough call.

What's all this about TMB being his last music album? Isn't that what he said after TSODE?

Still, three albums in under 18 months - I can't complain. Sure beats the mid-1980s, with no album for three years.


Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 09:55:38 +1100
Subject: Re: TMB (more stuff)

Good to see that there's no need for my expansive diatribes on Amarok any more. (Does TMB really need that much analysis? Aren't its themes a little, erm, obvious?)

I've listened to TMB a couple more times now, and I think my initial reactions still hold - it's not bad (in fact it's one of his better albums), but I prefer TB3. I wish 'Liberation' went on for longer...

The Twisted Bell

©2001 Rory Ewins