Friday, April 20, 2007

Mike Oldfield: Kerching! and memories of the early Virgin records

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. The Mail on Sunday are giving away a free CD of the original Tubular Bells this week. I seem to remember reading a comment by Jonathan King that the composer/performer of these CDs gets circa £1 million from this sort of issue. So it is nice to know that the old multi-instrumentalist won't have to check around the cushions of his sofa for odd coopers for the forseeable future. What a shame Viv 'slightly distorted' Stanshall isn't alive to enjoy some of the proceeds!

I don't often listen to Bells in its entirety these days. A few months ago, however, I was delayed in traffic going to Heathrow and put it on. I listened to side one without moving forward in the traffic jam! It was great to hear it again and the Viv Stanshall-narrated piece certainly stood out as the apotheosis of the work.

The Mail on Sunday CD business is all a long way from the day when my brother bought one of the first copies of Tubular Bells. That was in the days when Virgin Records was a direct mail record company which advertised in Melody Maker and NME. I can remember the adverts which listed all their records with the numbers of the albums. I used to be able to recite the first ten Virgin records.

But the years have taken their toll on my memory and I cannot find a list on the web. I remember that Tubular Bells was the first release and had the number 001. I am not sure if there was a prefix like "V" or "VS". Tangerine Dream with "Phaedra" were certainly in the first ten, and may even have been number three (?). I am a bit misty on the others. I think Captain Beefheart was perhaps number two. Henry Cow? Faust? I think they were in there somewhere. Any ideas from those with better memories than me?

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