With tape manipulation and an insane amount of overdubbing, Mike Oldfield's one-man-band approach to the original "Tubular Bells" taxed the limits of recording technology in 1972.

With tape manipulation and an insane amount of overdubbing, Mike Oldfield's one-man-band approach to the original "Tubular Bells" taxed the limits of recording technology in 1972. Now working digitally, Oldfield has fixed the warbly intonation, asynchronous moments and unwanted distortion. He hasn't updated his work so much as created the full realization of ideas that were too technologically complex for the times. Musically, "Tubular Bells"—which was heard in the film "The Exorcist"—is as riveting as ever, by turns lyrical and angry, exalted and daffy. Oldfield's guitar orchestras and keyboard crescendos still ring out like a new world dawning. John Cleese replaces the stentorian instrumental roll call of the late Vivian Stanshall with his own quizzical upper-crust reading. "Tubular Bells" influenced a generation of musicians, film composers and jingle writers. With "Tubular Bells 2003," an epic work has been reborn.—JD

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