Additional notes from Richard Carter
Notes On The Instruments
Sleigh Bells - According to Tom Newman, Mike climbed under the lid of the grand piano to record these, presumably to get the kind of echo/reverb effect from the resonance of the piano strings (they would probably have held the sustain pedal down as well). Frank Zappa once recorded an album that involved people talking with their heads inside a piano, so Mike isn't the only one to have ventured inside...
A few instruments aren't credited on the album sleeve:
Tubular Bells - There's not really any disputing that these are played on the album. They come in at 12:50 and again at 20:18 in Part One. Perhaps omitted from the instrument listing to slightly reduce the connection in people's minds between this album and the one which shares its name with the instrument (Tubular Bells, that is).
Bass guitar - Features all over the place. Odd that this one was missed out, although maybe they felt that 'Electric guitars' included bass guitar as well. It can be heard clearly in Part Two at 05:48 (although it comes in before then, and obviously is used in many other places, including the beginning of Part One).
Notes On The Musicians
Lindsay Cooper - 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).
June Whiting - also played oboe on Rick Wakeman's '1984' album.
Ted Hobart - Classically trained trumpeter. At the time was probably freelancing for musicals in London's West End. Also joined the English National Opera in 1974.
Chilli Charles - 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.
Clodagh Simmonds - 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. More information on the Ommadawn page. Also sung with Jon Field's group Jade Warrior (see Tubular Bells page).
Terry Oldfield - Mike Oldfield's brother. As far as I know, it is him who played woodwind on this album.
William Murray - Drummer, who Mike would have met in 1971 while recording 'Whetevershebringswesing' with Kevin Ayers. More information on the Ommadawn page. william played an uncredited cymbal on Hergest Ridge.
David Bedford - 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.
Hergest Ridge (the place behind the album name) - Hergest Ridge is a hilly ridge which Mike was able to see from his house at the time of writing the album. He moved there after the success of Tubular Bells to escape the attention.
More on Hergest Ridge and the surrounding area to follow soon...
The cover - Again done by Trevor Key, the album cover features a dog and a model glider. Mike Oldfield used to enjoy flying model gliders from the top of Hergest Ridge, which is probably why one features on the cover. The LP featured a close up picture of Bootleg's head (Bootleg being the dog) mostly in silhouette, with what is presumably the countryside surrounding Hergest Ridge behind him (it certainly looks very similar to the countryside in that area, but could be other places). Bootleg was one of two Irish Wolfhounds from The Manor. Wolfhounds from The Manor have since appeared on albums by other artists.
The album was remixed by Mike Oldfield in 1976 for the Virgin 4 LP set 'Boxed'.
After doing this, Mike stated that this remix must be the version used for all future releases of the album. The original mix of Hergest Ridge could therefore, up until 2010, only be heard on LP and cassette (and even then, only the LPs and cassettes produced before 1976). All CD releases on Virgin Records therefore used the Boxed mix. Releases since 2010 on Mercury Records have used a brand new mix created by Mike for the release (the Deluxe Edition also includes the original 1974 mix).
The remix done for 'Boxed' was quadraphonic (as was the rest of Boxed) - that is, using four channels instead of the usual two used for stereo, in order to feed an extra pair of speakers behind the listener.
The system used to encode the quadraphonic signal onto the record was CBS's SQ system, which worked by combining the four channels together into a normal stereo signal, in a way that the quadraphonic effect could be reproduced when played through the right decoder (a process known as matrix encoding).
Because the results were fully stereo compatible, an ordinary stereo master tape was never made, and so all releases of the Boxed mix (including all of the Virgin CD pressings of Hergest Ridge) are SQ quad encoded.
There are 'lyrics' in part 2, which you'll be able to hear if you have a copy of the remix (like most people). Attempts by fans at deciphering them have failed, and it seems that they are an example of Clodagh Simmonds' skill of making up nonsense lyrics, which she did again on Ommadawn (though there she threw in some Irish Gaelic words as well).
© Richard Carter 2001