I’m posting this —the “Piltdown Man” bit from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells— because today is my brother Greg’s birthday, and yesterday was my sister Julie’s birthday (they’re six years apart), and when we were younger (I would have been in my early teens, since Oldfield’s album was released in 1973), this part was a favorite among my younger siblings…known universally by them (and for obvious reasons) as “the caveman song.”
Rumor has it that Oldfield, frustrated with demands from Virgin Records boss Richard Branson that his album have vocals, downed half a bottle of Jameson’s and tossed off this…uh, eccentric…performance. Whether that’s true, the album that resulted was an enormous success both for Oldfield and for Branson: it was Virgin Records’ debut release (Oldfield’s too), and the piece’s eventual use as the soundtrack for The Exorcist broke it into the American market.
Tubular Bells doesn’t exactly bring the rawk…but this part is the closest it comes to doing so. The part where Oldfield’s “caveman” goes “huh?” seemingly in response to the rather simple piano part always amuses me…
Mike Oldfield—”Piltdown Man” section from Tubular Bells (part 2), 1973