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Hergest Ridge

Released: August 28, 1974

Recorded: The Manor, with preliminary sessions at Basing Street and Chipping Norton. Mixed at Air London

Hergest Ridge cover

1. Part One 21:40
2. Part Two 18:51

Recorded at The Manor - Spring 1974
Produced and Engineered by Mike Oldfield
Assisted by Tom Newman

All instruments played by Mike Oldfield:
Electric Guitars, Glockenspiel, Sleigh Bells, Mandolin, Nutcracker, Timpani, Gong, Acoustic Guitar, Spanish Guitar, Farfisa, Lowrey & Gemini Organs, except Oboes by June Whiting & Lindsey Cooper.
Also thought to be there...
Tubular Bells, Bass Guitar


Trumpet - Ted Hobart
Snare Drums - Chili Charles
Voices - Clodagh Simmonds & Sally Oldfield
Choir & Strings were conducted by David Bedford

Also thought to be there...
Terry Oldfield - woodwind
William Murray - cymbal
London Sinfonietta - strings

Additional parts recorded at Chipping Norton. Album mixed at Air London
1976 remix by Mike Oldfield at Througham Slad.

Cover by Trevor Key assisted by Bootleg, the Irish Wolfhound from The Manor


Notes

Following the success of Tubular Bells, Mike retreated to the countryside in an attempt to deal with the massive pressure his new-found fame brought with it. He bought a house called The Beacon, on the slopes of Bradnor Hill in Kington, Herefordshire, overlooking the ridge which would lend its name to this, his second album.

Having been given a four track recording setup by Virgin, Mike set about recording complete demos of parts one and two at The Beacon (these were released in 2010 on Universal's Hergest Ridge Deluxe Edition). This hadn't happened without considerable coercion from Richard Branson, as recording Tubular Bells had left Mike feeling drained of inspiration. In his autobiography Changeling, he recalls Branson turning up at The Beacon with a Farfisa organ as a present aimed at getting Mike making music again.

Recording began at Basing Street studios, which Mike hated, then transferred to Chipping Norton, which Mike hated even more, so it was only when The Manor became free that recording really began in earnest.

Like with Tubular Bells, the album cover was designed by Trevor Key. It features an Irish Wolfhound from The Manor, called Bootleg, and one of the model gliders which Mike often used to fly from the local hills.

Mike was unhappy with the album's original mix, and remixed it in quad in his new Througham Slad studio in 1976, for the four LP set Boxed. In the accompanying booklet, he noted that "The main intention was to cut down on what I thought had been unnecessary trimmings and in some cases like the snare drum, erase them entirely. [...] Now it's the experiment in texture I always wanted it to be, a prototype in some ways for the beginning of Side Two of Ommadawn." The Boxed remix revealed words being sung by Clodagh Simmonds in Part Two, which, despite fans' best attempts to decipher them, seem to be completely made up.

Despite his 1976 remix - which replaced the original mix on all subsequent LP pressings and all CDs - Mike seemingly remained unhappy with the mix of Hergest Ridge, leading to him remixing the album again in 2010. All CD releases now use the 2010 mix, though the Deluxe Edition also includes the original 1974 mix.


Personnel

David Bedford (arranger)

Classically trained composer, and fellow member of Kevin Ayers's band 'The Whole World', with whom Mike played bass and guitar (David played mostly keyboards). By the end of 1974, David had arranged both Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge for orchestra. Both pieces were premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with Steve Hillage, from the group Gong, on guitar. Mike was scheduled to play, but was unable to due to 'illness' (the illness was more mental than physical - Mike couldn't cope with appearing in public). The Orchestral TB was later released as an album, with Mike Oldfield on guitar. A recording of a performance of the Orchestral HR in Scotland (also with Steve Hillage - most performances were him, although Andy Summers of the Police did a few in the North of England), made by the BBC, was bought by Virgin, although it was never released.

Bedford also taught at Queen's College, members whose choir were to appear later on Incantations and Exposed. He recorded many albums of his own, often experimental music, some of which Mike played on.

Also appears in: The Orchestral Tubular Bells, Incantations, Exposed, QE2, The Killing Fields


Tom Newman (assistant engineer)

Also appears in: Tubular Bells, Platinum, Five Miles Out, Islands, Amarok, Heaven's Open, Tubular Bells II, The Songs of Distant Earth, Voyager


London Sinfonietta (ensemble)

According to David Bedford, the string players on the album were from the London Sinfonietta.


Chilli Charles (musician)

Drummer, who released two albums with Virgin - 'Busy Corner' (1974) and 'Quickstep' (1975). Also played with the likes of Kevin Ayers and Robert Palmer. Listed on the album as 'Chili' Charles (with one L), a spelling that seems to have been incorrect.


Lindsay Cooper (musician)

Most often seen playing the bassoon and oboe, although she also plays piano, flute and saxophone (and not to be confused with the male Lindsay Cooper who played double bass on Tubular Bells). Although classically trained, Lindsay went into more freeform improvised playing styles with bands like Henry Cow, who recorded several albums at The Manor. Mike engineered on one Henry Cow album - Legend (on the track 'Nirvana for mice')- which they recorded in 1973 (this was in fact before Lindsay Cooper joined the band).


Ted Hobart (musician)

Classically trained trumpeter. At the time was probably freelancing for musicals in London's West End. Also joined the English National Opera in 1974.


William Murray (musician)

Drummer, who Mike would have met in 1971 while recording 'Whetevershebringswesing' with Kevin Ayers. He played with Richard and Linda Thompson's 'Sour Grapes' band, as well as with Mellow Candle. He also played drums with Kevin Ayers in 1971 on the 'Whatevershebringswesing' album and later worked with Paul Kossoff. He was a good friend of Mike's. Mike bought William Murray a camera as a present, which sparked off an interest in photography. Helater moved to Dallas, Texas, USA, where he worked as a photographer. William took the photograph of Mike that's on the cover of Amarok. He died in 1999.

William played an uncredited cymbal on Hergest Ridge.

Also appears in: Ommadawn, Amarok


Terry Oldfield (musician)

Mike Oldfield's older brother, who had only just begun playing the flute when he was drafted in to play in the premiere concert for Tubular Bells in 1973. He has since gone on to become a well known producer of new age music, often featuring his woodwind playing.

Also appears in: Incantations


Clodagh Simmonds (musician)

Had previously been a member of Irish progressive folk band 'Mellow Candle' as well as having played Harpsicord and Mellotron on the song 'Sarah' on Thin Lizzy's 'Shades of a blue orphanage' in 1972. The group's drummer was Mike's friend William Murray. She also sang with the group Jade Warrior, alongside Jon Field (flute on Tubular Bells).

Also appears in: Ommadawn, Amarok, Tubular Bells III


June Whiting (musician)

An oboe player, who also played on Rick Wakeman's '1984' album.


Trevor Key (cover artwork)

Also appears in: Tubular Bells, Incantations, Platinum, Tubular Bells 2003



Instruments

Miscellaneous stringed instruments
CF Martin Style B Mandolin Used throughout the 70s and into the 80s, when he acquired the Mike Vanden F4-style mandolin. It appears in the videos for Portsmouth and William Tell Overture.
Electric guitars
1966 Gibson SG Junior This SG was bought with some of the first royalties from Tubular Bells. Mike used it on Hergest Ridge, before it was stolen from The Beacon.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
Nylon-string guitars
1974 Ramirez 1A Classical Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
Bass guitars
1960 Fender Precision Bass, blonde Mike bought this shortly after recording Tubular Bells. He played it on the BBC Second House performance in 1974. The frets were later removed from it. Sold via Chandler Guitars in February 2006.
Photo Photo Photo Photo
Organs
Gemini Organ
Farfisa Professional Organ Photo
Lowrey Organ
Loudspeakers
Tannoy Monitor Gold A pair of 15" Tannoy Monitor Golds were, according to Simon Heyworth, the main speakers in The Manor in the early 1970s. We have no information on what cabinets they were in.
Mixing desks
Walsall Timing Developments 20 channel mixer Solid state analogue mixer, with 20 input channels, 16 mix busses and 4 stereo compressor/limiters.


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Articles

I Can't Stand People Who Plays Things Blandly (1974)

Hergest Ridge Review - Down Beat (1975)

Beyond the Ridge: Portrait of a Genius (1975)

Beyond the Ridge: Portrait of a Genius - Ommadawn Review (1975)

Tom Newman Interview (1997)

     

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Mike Oldfield Tubular.net