Mike Oldfield Scales New Heights With ‘Hergest Ridge’

On August 28, 1974, Mike Oldfield released his follow-up to ‘Tubular Bells,’ the ambitious ‘Hergest Ridge.’

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Mike Oldfield Hergest Ridge
Cover: Courtesy of Universal Music

Mike Oldfield likely never expected to be following up a massively successful debut album. But that’s the situation he found himself in after Tubular Bells became a sensation. Rather than try to replicate that album’s sound, however, Oldfield went in another direction… And somehow came out the other side with yet another blockbuster. Indeed, in the NME of August 24, 1974, four days before the LP’s release, the paper’s deputy editor announced in a feature headline: “Hergest Ridge Will Sell A Bomb.” The NME was not wrong.

The only real similarity between Hergest Ridge and its predecessor is that both were a single work that occupied the two sides of the original long-playing record. Released some 15 months after Tubular Bells, Hergest is much more “classical” in its musical construction, and more complex.

Hergest Ridge can be bought here.

Tubular Bells had thrust the then 20-year-old Oldfield into the spotlight, and he was the first to admit that it was not his natural habitat. He retreated to Herefordshire, and the depths of the English countryside, to write his second album. (Hergest Ridge is a hill near Kington in that county, on the border between England and Wales, near to where Mike was living.)

Having gotten the necessary inspiration for the writing, he took his demo back to The Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, where he had recorded Tubular Bells, and began work on the album in the spring of 1974 with producer Tom Newman, with whom he had collaborated on his debut.

In every respect, Hergest Ridge is a far more sophisticated work than its predecessor. It’s redolent of the music of earlier 20th century English composers, notably Ralph Vaughan Williams and Arnold Bax. Similar to his debut, Oldfield multi-layered tons of instruments for a sound that was different from anything else that was being recorded at the time.

Sure, Yes were sailing the prog rock seas with similar experimentation on their late 1973 release, Tales from Topographic Oceans. But their keyboard-led layering was a collective affair, created as the group recorded together and bounced ideas and themes among themselves.

In contrast, Oldfield worked like a traditional classical composer and then used the studio, along with its equipment and the help of Newman, to create a work of sustained thought and creativity. He was helped by his sister Sally on vocals, as well as the London Sinfonietta Voices for choral effects; there were also some other instruments played by studio musicians that included Mike’s brother Terry, himself a composer, on woodwinds.

Hergest Ridge Part One (1974 Stereo Mix)

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Hergest Ridge entered the UK album chart at No.1 on September 14, 1974. Three weeks later, it was replaced by Tubular Bells, which spent just a week at the top, its sales having been reignited by Oldfield’s follow-up.

In 1976, David Bedford, who conducted the strings on the original release, recorded a purely orchestral version of Hergest Ridge. (Parts of this version were used in the NASA and Tony Palmer documentary, The Space Movie.)

In 2010, Hergest Ridge was re-released by Mercury Records and it includes a remix of the album and the original vinyl mix of the album. Oldfield was never entirely happy with the original album cover, and so he commissioned a new one. The deluxe edition of the album also includes Mike’s original demo, and it’s fascinating to hear how his ideas developed, offering a unique insight into the creative process.

Hergest Ridge can be bought here.



  1. francisco jose

    September 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Para mi su musica es un regalo para los oidos,es un maestro genial

  2. MikeS

    September 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Mike’s Music is a gate for my imagination

  3. Musicatis

    September 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    HR is music from Paradise!

  4. Rolf Bar

    November 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Now I am going away to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming again to
    read additional news.

  5. Suzana Falkone

    November 22, 2015 at 5:48 pm


    • simon janis

      September 26, 2016 at 6:04 am

      what does this comment have to do with mike oldfield’s music? as far as Tubular Bells excerpts being used as themes in The Exorcist that was a total movie studio/record company business deal; Mr. Oldfield did not care to have his music used for that film and said he never even saw the movie….

  6. Thom Fish

    November 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I didn’t hear Hergest Ridge when it came out – I didn’t have the money for many records – but when I did discover it years later it became a great favourite and, I think, amongst the best music Mike ever wrote.

  7. minecraft

    September 9, 2018 at 7:13 am

    If you are going for best contents like me, only visit this site
    daily for the reason that it offers feature contents, thanks

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