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



Filed under noise

4 responses to “sleoghimhach

  1. Lisa Goldman

    Tubular Bells used to freak me out as it was used in the soundtrack for the original The Exorcist..

    But when I think of Tubular Bells, I also think of that ridiculous song (whose official name escapes me) that has to do with hot buttered popcorn. It is supposed to evoke the sound of hot buttered popping popcorn…
    THIS was mainstream music pablum of the early ’70s. Ugh..

  2. This?

    Anyway: not sure what that has to do w/Tubular Bells…but I tend to have moderated my own tastes from the ’70s: I just don’t care any more if something annoyed me then. But for what it’s worth, “Popcorn” (as heard in that video link) is actually a cover, and in some ways, rather than being “mainstream music pablum” (whatever that might be), it was fairly innovative for its time: it was one of the first hit singles to be performed mostly on synthesizer, and in many ways it anticipated disco. Of course, neither of those might be regarded as a good thing…but what it wasn’t was a song that just played it safe by doing exactly what everyone else popular had already done.

  3. Lisa Goldman

    yeah, I see your point. When I heard “Popcorn” for the first time, it freaked me out in a good way, but then Top 40 radio just played it to DEATH, so now I associate with sorta mid-70s kitsch, you know?

  4. it was Virgin Records’ debut release (Oldfield’s too)

    And the first album I ever bought.

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