Hergest Ridge (album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||28 August 1974|
|Studio||The Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire|
|Mike Oldfield chronology|
|Mercury Records 2010 reissue|
The revised aerial photograph artwork. The Deluxe Edition is shown.
Hergest Ridge is the second studio album by English musician and songwriter Mike Oldfield, released on 28 August 1974 by Virgin Records. The unexpected commercial and critical success of his debut album Tubular Bells (1973) affected Oldfield, who decided against touring and avoided the press with his newfound fame. Instead, he retreated to Hergest Ridge on the England–Wales border, near where he was living at the time, to write a follow-up which he recorded in 1974 at The Manor in Oxfordshire with Tom Newman returning as co-producer. Similar to Oldfield's first, the album is a single composition split into two parts covering different moods and musical styles.
The album was No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart for three consecutive weeks before it was displaced by Tubular Bells, marking one of the few times an artist has overtaken themselves on the chart in this manner. In 2010, the album was reissued with new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes, bonus material, and new artwork.
Background and recording
In May 1973, Oldfield turned 20 and had his debut album Tubular Bells released as the first put out by Virgin Records. Its unexpected commercial and critical success propelled Oldfield to worldwide fame which affected him as he disliked travelling, touring, and giving interviews to the press. By early 1974 Oldfield sought a countryside location to write a follow-up album, choosing to drive around the West Country before turning north into Hereford. He arrived at Kington, a small town on the England–Wales border located in the shadow of Hergest Ridge, an elongated hill with a peak height of 425 metres which attracted Oldfield to stay in the area. He spotted a house named The Beacon on the edge of Bradnor Hill that was up for sale and got permission from Virgin co-owner Richard Branson to buy it.
Oldfield settled into his new home but soon felt unsure with his next career move. His contract with Virgin allowed him a £25 wage and continual offers that were offered to him added to the pressure of appearing in public, causing Oldfield to suffer from panic attacks. He lacked any solid ideas for new music and chose to perform "simple undemanding Medieval tunes" with folk musician Leslie Penning at Penrhos Court, a local restaurant, in return for free wine. With encouragement from Branson, Oldfield started to write a follow-up to Tubular Bells following the arrival of a Farfisa organ, 4-track TEAC tape machine, and a mixing desk delivered to his house.
Oldfield felt that half of the good sections on the album were so detailed and buried in the mix, it called for listeners to play the album on a high quality record player. "I have to listen really hard to pick out something that I know that I'm proud that I did". The climax to the album is something that he was particularly happy with. The idea of people comparing the album to Tubular Bells irritated him because he considered it a more arranged and fully conceived work. In 1975, Oldfield reflected on Hergest Ridge and thought it contained "some excellent ideas" but its recording was rushed which affected the performance as a result.
After initial recording sessions at Basing Street Studios, London and Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire were abandoned, Oldfield recorded Hergest Ridge in the spring of 1974 at The Manor near Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, with Tom Newman resuming his role as co-producer with Oldfield. The album was mixed at AIR Studios in London.
Similarly to Tubular Bells, the album is divided into two movements, although Hergest Ridge makes more economical use of its various themes and has more sophisticated musical development than its multi-themed and rapidly changing predecessor. Oldfield is innovative on Hergest Ridge in the novel way in which he builds up complex textures; he frequently superimposes layers of electric guitar recorded by first amplifying heavily (to achieve a sustained organ-like quality) and then reducing the volume greatly via use of the Glorfindel Box and the compression channel from the Manor Mixing Console, as he did on the "Guitars Sounding Like Bagpipes" section from Tubular Bells Part 2. Textures are extended further using various organ timbres and the use of voice as an instrument (the voice is never treated prominently and is deliberately reduced as much as possible and thus permitted largely for textural effect).
Hergest Ridge was remixed in SQ system 4-channel quadraphonic sound by Oldfield in 1976 for the 4-LP set, Boxed. Following the creation of the remix, Oldfield stated that he wished for all future releases of the album to be derived from this new version. All CD releases have a stereo mix derived from the "Boxed" mix, as do most of the later pressings of LP and cassette. The original 1974 vinyl mix is now available on the 2010 reissue of the album, along with a 2010 remix.
In 1976 an orchestral version of Hergest Ridge was arranged and conducted by David Bedford, who had previously undertaken the same tasks on The Orchestral Tubular Bells. Parts of its performances were used in the NASA and Tony Palmer documentary The Space Movie. As of 2019[update] it has not been officially released.
Hergest Ridge, the place
Hergest Ridge on the England–Wales border is a popular holiday destination for Oldfield's fans, and the house where he lived at the time, The Beacon, is now a guest house. The cover photograph features scenery from Hergest Ridge, and was taken by Trevor Key; the Irish Wolfhound on the cover (and on the LP label) was named Bootleg. Mike Oldfield himself can be heard pronouncing it in the song "On Horseback", which concludes "Part Two" of Ommadawn.
|1.||"Hergest Ridge (Part One)"||21:29|
|1.||"Hergest Ridge (Part Two)"||18:45|
Credits are adapted from the 1974 liner notes.
- Mike Oldfield – electric and acoustic guitars, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, mandolin, nutcracker, timpani, gong, Spanish guitar, Farfisa organ, Lowrey organ, GEM Gemini organ
- June Whiting – oboe
- Lindsay Cooper – oboe
- Ted Hobart – trumpet
- Chilli Charles – snare drum
- Clodagh Simonds – vocals
- Sally Oldfield – vocals
- David Bedford – choir and strings conductor
- Mike Oldfield – production, engineering
- Tom Newman – production and engineering assistant
- Trevor Key – album cover
- Bootleg – Irish wolfhound on the album cover
Mercury Records reissue
On 7 June 2010 the album was re-released by Mercury Records. This came as part of a deal in which Oldfield's Virgin albums were transferred to Universal's label. Bonus features for the release include a 2010 remix of the album and the original vinyl mix of the album. There is a single disc edition as well as a Deluxe Edition. Bonus tracks include "In Dulci Jubilo (For Maureen)" and "Spanish Tune". A 180 gram vinyl version was released as part of the Back to Black range.
The reissue features radically different artwork, which features a model glider and aerial photography based on Google Earth and Bluesky. According to the new liner notes, Oldfield was never entirely happy with the original album artwork and took this opportunity to commission a new cover.
There is also a limited edition box set of the album, comprising a deluxe edition, an LP and a framed, signed print of the album artwork. Only 250 copies were produced, which were sold through Mike Oldfield's official website. There are no un-signed variants.
The Japanese release uses the SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) manufacturing process.
Single Disc Edition
Back To Black Edition Vinyl Edition
Limited edition available through mikeoldfieldofficial.com, which contains the deluxe edition the vinyl edition and a numbered framed print of the cover artwork, signed by Mike Oldfield. Also includes Walking The Hergest Ridge booklet. Only 250 copies were available on pre-order prior to the release on 14 June 2010.
Hergest Ridge was the UK's number one album in the week ending 14 September 1974 and remained so for three weeks until being knocked out of the spot by its predecessor Tubular Bells. Oldfield is thus one of only a few artists (among whom are The Beatles and Bob Dylan) to have swapped number one albums in this manner.
In 1975, Rolling Stone reported that 2 million copies of the album had been sold.
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||12|
|Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)||54|
|UK Albums (OCC)||1|
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