Rare Tracks Part 2

A guide to the known tracks that Mike has recorded but left unreleased, in two parts: 1967-1985 and 1987-present.

Further information:

Art In Heaven website

Music VR website

Anita Hegerland interview

Barry Palmer's website

Rosa Cedron's website

Luar Na Lubre's website

Part 1: 1967-85


Film Music




Magic Touch
Besides the Jim Price and Max Bacon versions of this song (which appear on the UK and US versions of Islands respectively), a version was recorded with John Pain (later a member of Asia), which came very close to being issued in place of the others. A version with Fish (real name Derek Dick) of Marillion was also recorded, but as Mike wanted a European sound to the album, Fish's Scottish accent was deemed inappropriate.

When The Night's On Fire
Before this song appeared on Islands, different arrangements were attempted, with different lyrics. As usual, Mike recorded the track with several different singers, including Barry Palmer and Bonnie Tyler.

Man in the Rain [2]
Another song with this title was recorded at the Islands sessions, using a German band with Barry Palmer on vocals. Mike wanted the track to have a loose feel - perhaps to recreate the spirit of the early 70s Kevin Ayers songs - so Mike encouraged them to relax and have a few drinks, and the band was recorded live. The resulting recording, sounding somewhat too loose, was not used. A few years later, the song was completely reworked, with new lyrics and melody, and appeared as the title track on Heaven's Open.


Mike composed the theme music for this children's programme, based on False Start, an old folk tune which Mike had previously recorded on Pekka Pohjola's Keesojen Lehto.

Far Country
At least two more versions of this song were recorded for Earth Moving, one with Max Bacon and the other with Fish.

Tubular Bells,
Earth Moving,
Far Country
To promote Earth Moving, Mike re-recorded these tracks for the Nicky Campbell show, broadcast by BBC Radio 1 on the 23rd of August 1989. Mike used hand-played instruments, and also took this approach on his next album, Amarok. On the broadcast version, John Peel took the role of MC on Tubular Bells, but the master tape held by the BBC is instrumental.


“Irish Air” [unknown title]
Bridget St John sang on this track, which was recorded at the sessions for Amarok.


Fed Up
Recorded for Heaven's Open, this was given new lyrics and a slightly altered melody before appearing as Gimme Back.

"Unreleased Songs" [no titles given]
In a January 2005 interview, Anita Hegerland remarked, "I have a tape at home with unreleased songs that he has done, and they are great! One of them is beautiful". No further details were given, although these songs are most likely to have been recorded between 1986 and 1991.


Tomorrow’s World
In 1994, the BBC revamped their science magazine programme Tomorrow's World and required a new signature theme. Mike's unused submission was based on a theme from The Songs Of Distant Earth.


Voyager (acoustic versions)
Mike originally recorded the whole Voyager album using only hand-played acoustic instruments. After a WEA executive's daughter expressed her opinion that it sounded boring, Mike added synths and more instruments to the album.


Tubular Bells III (unused sections)
Mike said that he recorded around 70 minutes of music for Tubular Bells III, before cutting it down to 46. Several of the unused tracks were predominantly acoustic. One of these featured a "heartbeat" bassline and some children in the background - a few seconds of this remain on the album, between Serpent Dream and the beginning of The Inner Child.

Secrets was more "driving" and less club-oriented than the released version.

Tubular-X was removed from the album, and is only available on the X-Files: Fight The Future CD (see Film Music).

When recording The Inner Child, Mike originally had Rosa Cedron singing in unison with her cello (she had often done the same with Luar Na Lubre). Mike ended up removing the cello part from the final mix.


The Millennium Bell (early versions)
A CD of work-in-progress recordings for this album was pressed by Oldfield Music in May 1999. Some of the tracks were similar to the released versions, while others were very different.

For example, The Doge's Palace has no vocals, while Sunlight Shining Through Cloud has different lyrics spoken by a different vocalist, as well as a guitar solo.

Amber Light only appears after The Millennium Bell, which itself is a completely different composition: this version of The Millennium Bell became the basis of a piece of music called Bat Maze, which can be heard in Music VR.

This track representing the time of King Arthur only appeared on the above version of the Millennium Bell album. It was dropped from the album because Mike didn't feel that it worked well with the rest of the album. Its melody, however, is reprised by the harmonica in Broad Sunlit Uplands.

Sunlight Shining Through Cloud
Several unused versions were recorded, which were around two minutes longer than the released version, and included some electric guitar not present on the finished mix.

These versions also had different lyrics (which were replaced by Mike's adaptation of Amazing Grace on the released version). Pepsi rapped on one version, while another featured an unnamed female rapper. Mike had also approached Maxi Jazz from Faithless to contribute a rap vocal, but he was unavailable.

The Millennium Bell (pre-release mix)
Several tracks on the album utilised samples, clearances for which could not be made, forcing Mike to remaster the album with different samples (with a few other changes also being made). The pre-release version had a slightly different cover.

Here is a list of the differences on the pre-release mix:

7: Mastermind
The original version has an additional speech sample.

8: Broad Sunlit Uplands
The original features samples of Winston Churchill saying "United as never before" and "Broad sunlit uplands", with the samples filling the gaps in the piano track.

The ticking clock appearing at 1:00 on the pre-release version was replaced by the sound of a siren. At the end, the piano is slightly louder.

9: Liberation
The end of Liberation uses different samples. On the original, this included BBC weatherman Michael Fish saying "Down over Spain, across into France", Kenneth Wolstenholme’s "They think it's all over..." from the 1966 World Cup, and ends with Neil Armstrong saying "The eagle has landed".

10: Amber Light
Between the intro and the African choir, the pre-release version has a rap: "You may be black, you may be white / you may be Jew or Gentile / It makes no difference in our house".

On the released version the rap was replaced by a bass note, making the the track about 6 seconds shorter.

11: The Millennium Bell
The beep sounds are at a lower pitch and placed off the beat. Before the bell, an electronic voice says "Goodnight, sweetie", instead of "zero".

After the bell there is an audible cut (this cut is covered by a hi-hat on the released version).

12: Amber Light (Reprise)
This is incorporated into the title track on the released album; at the very end there is also an additional (very quiet) African choir.

Art In Heaven / Berlin 2000 / Thou Art In Heaven
Mike wrote this 12-minute track to accompany Art In Heaven's lightshow at the climax of the Millennium Bell concert in Berlin. It opens with In The Beginning (from The Songs Of Distant Earth), and ends with an extract from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. A studio version is available on a very limited promo CD - this version opens with a bass note lasting over a minute, just as the live version did, which could indicate that this CD was made as a demo for the live band to work from.

A minute and a half of this CD was played on Steve Wright's BBC Radio 2 show on 22nd December 1999 (Steve referred to the track as 'Berlin 2000'). The live version is available on the Art In Heaven concert video and DVD.

A rerecorded version was considered for a CD single to be released during the first half of 2000. Several alternative versions were recorded, including an acoustic version featuring a bodhran. These alternative versions would also have appeared on the CD single, although this never materialised.

A completely different arrangement eventually appeared on Tres Lunas in 2002, retitled Thou Art In Heaven.

“Synth arpeggios” [unknown title]
The Art In Heaven concert DVD includes an interview with Mike, which shows him playing a recording of the Art In Heaven track. Two synth arpeggios can also be heard, which presumably come from an unreleased track.

“Aristotle” [unknown title]
In an interview in late 1999, it was mentioned that Mike and his girlfriend Fanny were searching the internet for Aristotle quotes to use as lyrics.

“Van Goch” [unknown title]
Mike said in a Spanish interview that he had written a piece of music inspired by Van Goch's paintings (no title was given). He described it as "simple, pretty and violent, all at the same time", and said it would be a good piece to hear at the end of the world.

Credit: Paul Harris and David Porter of The Mike Oldfield Information Service, Olivier Lebra of Tubular Web, Ralf Erhard, Marcus Junglas, Rainer Münz Gareth Randall, Richard Carter, the Tubular Forums, Elf and all the knowledgeable people from the Amarok list.

Back to Part 1


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