Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Mike Oldfield - Hergest Ridge CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Much superior to Bells , I don't get why most people swear only by his first (and to a lesser extent his next one). Even if quieter than its first one , this one has more flesh (and of course has not suffered from over-exposure like Bells). Long sick of listening to "vieuxchamps", this is still the only one that I will select to hear once every second year or so.
Report this review (#28268)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Back in '74, as everyone was still basking in the glory of Mike Oldfield's first album "Tubular Bells", I felt that Mike Oldfield made this next album "Hergest Ridge" only for me to hear. Ask some people (even today) if they've heard of Mike Oldfield, and all they'll know is "Tubular Bells". I'll have to admit, I played TB so often when it came out it actually started to bore me within a year. Probably because each passage was so short and easy to retain the melody note for note in my head, it became unneccessary to actual play thec album anymore. What makes "Hergest Ridge" (and Ommadawn") so warm and refreshing for me is that those recordings sustained a longer playout of a particular passage with varying, but yet subtle changes in the lingering theme. This created a more ambient atmosphere to get lost in. In comparison, "Hergest Ridge" feels like a smooth freefall from the sky, where as, "Tubular Bells" feels like your falling too, but you're smacking on the rocks beside the mountain on your way down. "Ommadawn" followed "Hergest Ridge", and again, the pleasant sensation of uninterupted freefalling is apparent. I love the middle part of "Hergest Ridge" part 2. It's a very high-end intense sound output, with a hint of East Indian influence that keeps my heart racing all the way through it. I don't know anyone who has made a sound quite like this. It's like Gandhi on drugs! Just incredible! "Hergest Ridge", in believe, has set the stage for many instrumental artists who were looking for someone to get the ball rolling. Other artists like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, and Jean Michel Jarre, were the next new pioneers to this new kind of experimental sound output. I don't care what anyone says...The 70's were the era of innovation and courage for new adventures in sound. Most instrumentalists of today put out easily forgettable sounds. I don't think anything has been left undone anymore. We've finally heard it all. Anyone trying to be the new innovator is just rehashing old ideas of which the appeal has died. Only the originals will be respected and cherished. Anything now this is new and different, is just probably alot of unharmonic noise (Nine Inch Nails is probably today's last innovator, and that's just garbage!) Today's "new age" is still kind of stuck in the 80's. Five minute "pop sounding" harmless sleep-inducing instrumentation seems to remain today's "new age" sound. For instance, Yanni, he's like the Barry Manilow of instrumental music. Enigma seemed like they were going to go somewhere, but it all sounds EXACTLY THE SAME! UGGH! Anyway, there is alot more to Mike Oldfield than "Tubular Bells". "Incantations" could easily be my second favorite.
Report this review (#28270)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This fair record has 2 very long songs. The movement is very slow and you have to listen entirely the album to make a review. Despite there are very good bits at many places, there are many bits that I consider too lengthy. The change of patterns could have been made more frequently. It gives a quite linear album. The songs are rather loaded of many different instruments, but it is played quite in the background, so that it seems not being well recorded. If you like Tubular bells, then you should like this one.
Report this review (#28279)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars She rises from the mist, this belle, and has a different tale to tell, emerging from the the rills and ridges to share with us her humble riches. More pastoral in tone than her piebald predecessor, a simpler patchwork and perhaps the lesser of the two, the first work having grew from such a tempest of expression, while Hergest here is glimpsed in logical succession. It's interesting that, after such a tubular design, a second album doesn't dare entwine too many bits and pieces, fearful of a work that rises and surceases OLDFIELD here is on a simpler path, his waterfall of inspiration channeled into one warm bath. You'll find some CRIMSON in it (on guitar), some GENESIS as well (seen from afar), but mostly this is OLDFIELD first and last, a vision of the future and the past. The artist, having found an audience, is careful not to build a wood too dense, focusing instead on several themes, from tame to tempest as befits the scene. (I'll add, although it's quite a different boid, that one theme sounds a lot like "Mongoloid".) If "Hergest Ridge" is not the tumbing spire that "Tub'lar Bells" aspired to than desire not a second mountain in your midst, but chance upon a rolling hill as this and marvel at its natural, simple charm, a pixie playground where there is no varum. (Sorry about this one. Ze furter I vent, ze verse it got.)
Report this review (#28271)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Oldfield makes light of that difficult second album syndrome

Oldfield's follow up to "Tubular Bells" was inevitably rather overshadowed by his illustrious first album. In its own right however, "Hergest Ridge" stands up as a fine piece of work.

Generally smoother and more continuous than "Tubular Bells", Oldfield manages to compile an album with a similar structure but which sounds quite different. The most striking part of the album comes about five minutes into the second side, when the almost ambient soft melody stops, to immediately be replaced by an absolute wall of sound. The pace is lifted by a driving, incessant rhythm, which thunders along like a train barely remaining on the tracks. This occupies much of the second side of the album, and transforms it completely. A more serene sound returns to close the album, allowing the required catching of breath.

A very good album, generally somewhat mellower than "Tubular Bells", but with a real sting in the tail.

Report this review (#28272)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I admit to be very fond of this album.It doesn't have the musical highs of Tubular Bells but it does have that certain 'you know what' and is overall a more mature and coherent work.This is about as soulfull as instrumental music gets and way better than any of the 'new age' stuff that came out of the eightes.
Report this review (#28273)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mike Oldfield's "Hergest Ridge" is, in my opinion, almost an ideal type of music. It sweeps you off to a world that is sacred only to the person listening to it. That's why it is my second favourite album. I definitly recommend this albumto everyone that can appreciate good music.
Report this review (#28274)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I definitely have a soft spot for Hergest Ridge. It is more spatial than Tubular Bells and ambles along at an even space with the exception of course of the ' Thunderstorm ' scene. Remember that Oldfield was still very young and for me HR demonstrated a bit more maturity in the music he put out. It is interesting to note also that the majority of reviews seen on Hergest Ridge are very positive so it must speak well for this excellent work.
Report this review (#28275)
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hergest Ridge, in my opinion, is one of Mike Oldfield's better releases. There's a lot more melody and much more interesting instrumentation than his initial offering of "Tubular Bells," and that's a good thing. Mike was certainly showing amazing growth as a composer asnd musician at this early stage in his career.

The biggest problem of most (if not all) modern releases of this album is that the mix is taken from the "Boxed" set released in 1976. This 2nd mix is _vastly_inferior_ to the original vinyl release in 1974, as there are a lot of passages that sound devoid of any richness or life when compared to the original. To this day, I've failed to understand why this was done. I hope that someday the original mix of this album is restored to its original glory and released again. My rating of this album reflects the original mix, otherwise it gets 2 stars from me.

Report this review (#28280)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A completely different record from Tubular Bells...liner notes on Ommadawn album says that with Ommadawn, Mike began doing World Music...I dunno, because I feel this album as the first part of Ommadawn...Its a very relaxed and well crafted record...The difference between Hergest and Ommadawn is that the last has more variation of music...This one has folky influences and a very romantic feeling...(though that noodling sound in the second part from 12:00)...It's considered a classic for some people, for me tis a good one, but its not as good as its predecessor...
Report this review (#28282)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is fabulous!!! Far better than Tubular Bells, though Mike's first achievement is one of my favourite albums, so imagine how I LOVE Hergest Ridge! Mike really hit it off with HR. While TB was quite raw in sound, HR is rich, mellow, but it still has the progrock cutting edge (just listen to the 6-minute-long ultra-speed guitar part in the middle of "Part Two"!). The addition of choir and orchestra (conducted by David Bedford) is excellent, makes me think of Pink Floyd. The album is usually labelled as having a pastoral feel, and it hears!, but at the same time it retains rock elements, most of which resemble those of TB. Great great work of the twenty-year-old then Mike Oldfield. Perhaps HR will be one of my favourite albums ever, it just so great. If you know Ommadawn you won't be disappointed with HR. A great addition to your progrock (but not only) collection.
Report this review (#28283)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is pure genius - a classic, definitive, quintessential symphonic progressive rock album. Right up there with Close To The Edge, Brain Salad Surgery and Fotrot. One of the 10 esential albums to bring to a desert island, if you are going there. I know I am raving, but how can you not rave when the music is so good?

What a gorgeous, melodic, symphonic work, full of delicate melodies, and beautiful chord progressions. The orchestrations are simply splendid, with flute, oboe, live strings, and choir. Despite the overall pastoral feel, there are some very intense passages in Part II. Very atmospheric and lush. A change of pace from the frantic Tubular Bells, this album is the flipside of the "Genesis" brand of symphonic prog rock, which is very intense and densely packed. This music is more spacious and takes it's time to develop. Absolutely stunning, and probably Oldfield's best album. Will definitely appeal to fans of Genesis and symphonic progressive rock. 10 stars rather than 5.

Report this review (#28287)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars This album shows the Mike Oldfield's capacity to make a completely different thing after the great success of Tubular Bells. If Tubular Bells has a contaminated sound, paranoic passages, with the smell of the city... Hergest Ridge it's just the opposite: calm, the smell of the fresh grass, and a slowly ascent to a mount that it's the place where the feelings of Mike Oldfield nest.

I don't give this album 5 stars because it's a little repetitive sometimes, like the Electrical Storm passage. But it's only my opinion, other people don't think so. Because of that, I recomend the listening to anyone who likes good music. You will know a world of true magic, peace...and fury sometimes!

Report this review (#40037)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars With the intensity of the spotlight on him, after the phenomenal 'Tubular Bells' Mike Oldfield retreated into the English countryside; now acknowledged, financially liberated, but far from healed, and with much more music to make. At this time he would create his second masterpiece, 'Hergest Ridge', again born from the depths of both his wonder and fear of life, but this time tempered with moments of pure peace and serenity. This review is based on the original release, thus far only available on vinyl, and not the slightly inferior 'Boxed' remix which is featured on all CD releases.

The album opens abruptly with the sustained chorus of pipes, an eerie, almost magical sound that introduces the listener to the piercing consciousness of Oldfield, built upon by the tinkling of percussion before the main melody of the record emerges. The theme is a strong one, optimistic and self-reinforcing, very much a tale of time, and goes on to be explored through some of Oldfield's most gentle instrumental changes. Through waves of horns, then acoustic guitar, the piece floats along majestically with a solitude and clarity that just seems to drag in the 1976 remix, before reaching a stark moment of upset, and then back to peace in a simply beautiful acoustic guitar/oboe/trumpet section. Here, around the middle of part one, you know you are listening to something truly unique and intriguing when the flow crashes down into a pulsing bass riff and ripples of bright synthesizer which create an atmosphere of mystery, curious searching. Effortlessly, this drives further on into the long climax of the first side, which builds with the festive leisure of sleigh bells and dreamy pipe organs, before the final, exultant, choral reprise. The piece ends fading in the way that it began, the pipes this time having the distinct echo of farewell.

Part two's subtle introduction showcases Oldfield's superb acoustic guitar picking style, in what is quite a delicate, mournful passage. After a short time, however, confidence is found, and the strummed guitars start to take over, as if embarking on a journey, told by a new melody of surpassing, overcoming. This becomes emphasised by the choir, which again was too thick and present in the mix on 'Boxed' but here drifts quietly beneath the other instruments with a natural reverb. In much the same way as part one, uncertainty awaits this journey, as the main theme returns on a lone organ and the piece shifts into darker territory once more, with uneasy staccato organ playing and that searching flute. Unexpectedly, this erupts into the power chord frenzy of what Mike's fans know as the 'thunderstorm' section of 'Hergest Ridge'... this is an extended, relentless struggle of layered distorted and fuzz guitars; frustration and stress but with firm timing, suggesting that there is still a measure of control and defiance within the chaos. At last, as the storm just becomes unbearable, the album returns to one final serene chapter of acoustic guitar, strings and choir... a summary, and perhaps a reference to a future time that looks back on all that has gone before. The last moments of 'Hergest Ridge', however, as the music slowly dies away, are discordant and bleak, before a very deliberate close.

This album still ranks as one of Mike Oldfield's finest achievements - surpassing 'Tubular Bells' - full of rich emotion, unique texture of instrumentation, and extremely gifted performances. This is music of a quality that sadly is not really made anymore, and must be heard to be understood. He was to sing on his next album, "so if you feel a little glum, to Hergest Ridge you should come" - and while it is not all hope and light, it is indeed the clear sound of truth, of home.

Report this review (#40770)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second release in 1974 "Hergest Ridge". Mike Oldfield to which land is bought for the country by unprecedented sales of the former work and it retires the world. Work by which the Mike Oldfield drew pastoral landscape. It is exact music. However, there is somewhere peacefully probably because of the theme no tension like the former work. It is an excellent as much as "Tubular Bells" sequel. It is a masterpiece that it is made winning the desire in people's managing and histories.
Report this review (#44173)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Hergest ridge" has not the same mood as "Tubular bells". The good point here is that Mike Oldfield has done something different, but keeping the form of 2 lenghty compositions which was his trademark at the time. "Hergest Ridge" is more serious, very evocative of what Mike Oldfield wanted to describe (the landscapes in the area of his home). It is also slower. To the discredit of this work compared to "Tubular bells" I would objectively say that there are some repetitive moments that make it loose one star. Apart from that, it equals the quality of its predecessor. Take the time to listen to it !
Report this review (#47321)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now I can't say that this will be a good review that will say something new, but I just feel that with this album, it's necessary I put my thoughts in. Perfect album for me to make my first review, because there's not many other albums I feel so strongly for. This album truly deserves the 5/5. Well.. it deserves more, but.. hey.

First of all, I would just like to say that this is in my top five favorite albums, I'd say about.. number 4. I wasn't too fond of it when I first heard it, seeing as I wasn't even that big an Oldfield fan. I have the habit of downloading random albums when I have nothing better to do. One night, I happened to stumble across three albums, each with the name "Tubular Bells." After listening to the first one, I became a fan. Not a big one, but.. a fan, nonetheless. About a year after that, I got bored again, and had been listening to Tubular Bells more frequently and talking about how amazing the album was with friends. It was at that time I decided to get Oldfield's complete discography. I listened to Tubular Bells again, of course, but I also wanted to hear his other, less known stuff. The first non TB album I decided to listen to, of course, was Hergest Ridge.

I liked it, at first. I thought it was just a nice little album, but didn't compare to Tubular Bells. It was within the next week, though, that I began to notice how great the album was. I constantly found myself whistling out random parts, and I decided that I didn't really give the album a real listen. I went home after school that day and for the first time, I actually listened to Mike Oldfield, and heard how amazing Hergest Ridge truly is.

The first part is a great piece, truly atmospheric and lush, with the pastural feel and everything, like everyone else says. It's amazing how positive it is, and I love how deep it gets within itself, how far it can get but still stay within itself. The peace floats along in a beautiful sort of way, and the whole track is just simply awe inspiring. it seperates into smaller pieces, but they all have a sort of reccuring theme that you could understand through just listening.

The second part is, in my opinion, quite possibly one of the best pieces of music i've ever heard. It starts excellently, having the same feel as the first piece. About 4 minutes in though, a huge wave of pure bliss just comes out of nowhere and comes crashing down in what I consider the best example of mastering the art of music. Things slow down after, and that's pretty much the climax of the album, but that's not to say there are other great parts to the rest of the second part. Even the electrical storm passage is a piece that I greatly enjoy, even if it does get repetitive and a bit annoying. How well he makes the piece with just his guitar is amazing. The end is simply beautiful. He goes back to the feel it had at the beginning with a beautiful transition, and it ends in a simply magnificent way.

King Crimson and Pink Floyd are my favorite bands, but one of the things I really love of the album is how spacious it is. There's enough space for you to listen not only to the music, but to yourself through the music within it.. or something. Tubular Bells is great, but it's more of a journey for Mike than the listener, in my opinion. Hergest Ridge is a personal voyage for the listener, and I reccomend it to anyone with 40 minutes to spare and an appreciation for good music.

Report this review (#69986)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I had large expectations of MO's Hergest Ridge. I had heard Tubular Bells and Ommadawn before. Thinking of those albums mixed with folk music sounded amazing. But what did I get...

Everything sounds more simple and the "solos" sound actually partly annoying. This album has lost its harmony and symphonic sound that the two other MO's albums had. I can't say that its rubbis or even close, since it really has some good parts. This is just my personal opinion and I'm sure may people can enjoy this greatly! I would personally recommend first to buy Tubular Bells or even the better, Ommadawn.

Unfortunately only 3 stars but remember thats just my personal view. Good but not (even nearly) essential album.

Report this review (#74562)
Posted Monday, April 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hergest Ridge, in my opinion, is even better album than Oldfield's first one. It's mellow theme lasts from the start to the very end. Melodies fit together perfectly, so the whole is perfect. There's not that hastiness from the melody to another than there was in TB.

Mike has a great ability to create decent melodies for almost every mood. He plays many instrument like a virtuoso, and I particularly love his use of organs. All of his three first albums are masterpieces, and Hergest Ridge is the most balanced of them. Therefore it's no wonder why I gave those full five stars, this album belongs to my TOP10 albums.

Report this review (#95578)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While Oldfield's incredible debut album "Tubular Bells" served as a particular highlight in the world of art rock and remains a major cornerstone in the history of rock, it will be in his next three recordings that he will refine and perfect his writing skills, solidly developing long pieces of music from a reduced number of main motifs. In my opinion, "Hergest Ridge" is Oldfield's first perfect masterpiece in a lifelong career full of peaks. This album finds the organ more featured than the grand piano in the keyboard department, as well as a more constraint role for the electric guitar sections in favor of an enhanced presence of the classical and acoustic guitars. This album is also less patently colorful than its predecessor, keeping a strong focus on melancholic ambience and contemplative emotion. The Celtic thing and the Philip Glass influence are the most predominant elements in the compositions, but you can also notice traces of symphonic art rock and exotic textures. Part 1 starts with the initial development of the two recurring main motifs successively, with Oldfield providing a meticulous sense of texture and subtlety with his multiple organ layers, acoustic guitar chord progressions and electric guitar's soft flourishes. In the times when things begin to get more intense, the presence of additional wind instruments (oboe, trumpet) helps to create a moderately orchestral mood; meanwhile, the female choral arrangements appear here and there, sometimes adding quietness to the calmer sections, sometimes adding intensity to the most extroverted passages. The development and slight variations around the two main motifs occupies more than half of Part 1. At one moment, things shift tenderly toward a bass-and-organ motif (the same one that will reappear on Part 2 in the guise of the multi-guitar Thunderstorm section) that builds a bridge to the closing theme of Part 1, a playful motif that brings some of the celebratory mood of the infamous closing theme of the debut album's Part 1. The sustained climax, the hypnotic repetition, the majestic chorale, all of it leads the way toward a calmer ending based on a reprise of one main motif on classical guitar. Part 2 begins with a similar atmosphere as that of the aforesaid Part 1's closing theme, albeit a bit more relaxed and introverted. The constraint colorfulness that Oldfield had so amazingly created so far finds a particularly genius expression here. A main motif returns briefly, building a dense bridge whose final steps are led by the interaction between guitar leads and tympani. A bridge to where? It appears that something sinister is on the way. And yes, here comes the Thuderstorm section, arguably the most demented musical idea to ever come out of Oldfield's musical mind. Besides the choral duet of Clodagh Simmonds and Sally Oldfield (and perhaps some hidden organ), the listener is left to face an angry exhibition of multiple guitar layers, riffs and leads, carefully arranged to sound like a massive orchestra of tension and bitterness. Some guitar leads, partially hidden by the dark cloud of a thousand electric strings, seem relatively related to the prototypical Frippian fashion, which only comes to show how familiar Oldfield used to be with the avantgarde side of prog rock. Once the Thunderstorm is abruptly over, a soft duet of organ and classical guitar momentarily retakes a fraction of the Thunderstorm section, in this way creating a clever combination of contrast and continuity. The album's last minutes are filled with an eerie reprise of a main theme, this time delivered with a sense of serenity oddly mixed with melancholy: those organ layers are really emotional. A beautiful end for a perfect Oldfield masterpiece.
Report this review (#97193)
Posted Sunday, November 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hergest ridge was the first album i heard from Mike Oldfield. I'll never forget! As a kid, with not much knowledge from music, i has almost taked to tears. I was surronded with magic! The beginning of the first part is a "crescendo" with a felling that i cannot tell with words. There are pieces of sinfonic geniality in that 20min song with an end that blows everyone. The choir is awsome. The part 2 remember Spain, blusy riffs and classical stuff. Is very difficult to talk about sounds, it's better hear them.

When i heard Tubular Bells (after Hergest ridge) i had to go down a little to understand it as a masterpiece. Hergest ridge as superiority in many ways.

Report this review (#100572)
Posted Monday, November 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars After the success of "Tubular Bells" Mike buys some property in rural England at a place called Hergest Ridge. He would build a studio in his new home and create this album. I confess to being amazed at how good this is, considering the pressure he must have felt to make a worthy successer to the commercially triumphant 'Tubular Bells". Listening to this record is like taking a journey and never leaving the farm. You really need to listen carefully to this album to fully take it all in. I like the way he increases and decreases the volume of the soundscape at just the right moments. The record is made up of two side long suites.

"Part1" opens with organ and eventually keys and percussion.Then comes the guitar melody that builds with organ in the background it's quite uplifting. The passage changes as acoustic guitar and horns take over. I was surprised to hear sleigh bells 16 minutes in with some great guitar added, it sounds amazing. The choir comes in after 18 minutes and they do not sing words but use vocal melodies that are emotional.

"Part 2" opens with organ and acoustic guitar that changes 3 1/2 minutes in as Sally Oldfield sings a vocal melody that again is quite moving. Mandolin at 5 1/2 minutes and then things get quiet, too quiet at 6 minutes in. An intense soundscape arrives at 8 minutes and the guitar tries to break through the wall of sound. At 11 1/2 minutes the guitar is scorching and there are layers of multible guitar noises as we have entered into the thunder storm section. It's great ! The record closes with a pastoral passage with Spanish guitar,organ and another uplifting vocal melody.

This is a beautiful piece of work that i'm sure was inspired by the scenic country side. It's like he turned what he saw into sound.

Report this review (#102698)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the unexpected sucessi of Tubular Bells, Mike retreated to a countryside home near the Wales/England border, that resided on the edge of the magnificent Hergest Ridge. He was emotionally unprepared for such a demand of his influence or the amount of requests for interviews and the pressure on him to tour, which frightened him into taking refuge in the country to write his next symphonic masterpeice.

Free of pressure, on his own except for the visits from guest musicians, he set to work on writing and recorded his second album. I suspect he spent his free time wandering on the beautiful ridge, becuase I sense it's large impact on the sound and warm atmosphere of the music. I once heard another fan say he can listen to the whole album and visualize what aspect of the mountain the music might have been referring to, like the pure beauty of the intro riff putting an image of a perfect sunset on hergest ridge into your minds eye, the glares of the sun glancing off blades of grass as it lowered from view, or the slower sections depicting the look of the clouds as the drifted by in the blue sky.

The music was slower and more developing and connected than the previous album, leaving behind most hints of the commercial rock peice sometimes present in Tubular Bells. Incorperating more instruments still, he shows the effect and ability of wind instruments, choirs and orchestras melting together with more convential instruments like the guitar,bass and keyboards to magnificent effect.

The etheral and dreamy landscape never bored you, having much substance to keep te listener engaged and interested in what was developing as time went by. Peices cold turn from a slow oboe section to a amazing peice of bass guitar seamlessly. It was far ahead of the original Tubular Bells, better making use of the "Part" format to suggest more specific ideas or coming off in different ways, perhaps contrasting sides of an album. The compositional work is sound and outstanding throughout the record, letting you know Oldfield wasn't a one-hit wonder and was advancing quickly into breaking more boundaries and creating unique peices of history with each release.

An album that sets a strong atmosphere, it's a unique and essential addition to any music collection, surpassing the first album in over all quality, but retaining key aspects that lead to its sucess in the first place.

But he wasn't done yet. The climax of his creativity was yet to come.

Report this review (#105230)
Posted Tuesday, January 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Following Mike Oldfield's debut album, Tubular Bells, was one of similar scale, but with much smoother execution. Hergest Ridge is a much more personal album. One of memorable melodies and sloppy guitar solos that somehow work. Yes, the guitar work is sloppy, but it fits like a piece of a puzzle.

Both parts are great, and both are a little mediocre at points, but both shine brilliantly most of the time. Part 1 begins with a very soft, simple, emotional melody, played on electric woodwinds (or something of the like...) on top of a few layers of ambient sound. Something about this melody is so sincerely otherworldly. This is sort of the main theme of the whole album, though it is prominently played on Part 1. Part 2's main melody is one of the most beautiful string-of-notes Mike has ever written. It is first played by Mike on his guitar, and then complimented by a delicate woman's voice.

As for the defects of this album...Part 1 has sloppy guitar, as I noted before, and Part 2 has a few uneven and repeated sections. That's about it. This album probably isn't worthy the attribute "solid". It's definitely "touching" and "surreal", though, among others.

For those of you searching for music of a higher calibre, for a series of sounds more justly classified as a journey rather than music, for a series of sounds that will destroy your human worries and take you on a fourty-minute trip inside yourself, then come on down to Hergest Ridge.

Report this review (#112463)
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mature, poetic, the smell of morning.

As good as Tubular Bells was, this record I have found to be more soothing, artistic, and complete. It's mellow, but never gets too ambient to lose interest. Pt 2 I find to be more dense and spiritual and overall a better journey than Pt 1.

The music is soothing, soulful, and builds upon the style established from Tubular Bells. The choir at the end of Pt 1. I am not especially fond of the choir at the end of pt 1, seeming a bit too out of place on a record like this. The second half creates a hypnotic, droning like effect that really sucks the listener in, be prepared for some symphonic style wonders.

An improvement in sound and quality, Hergest Ridge is an excellent record in the instrumental rock field that, as others have noted, really shines towards the end.

Report this review (#115819)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "the problem of the world today is that there's not enough romance."

(Mike's response to an interviewer who remarked that Hergest Ridge has been criticized for its romanticism.)

First, I agree with Mike's sentiments. Second, forget about Tubular Bells. Mike's sophomore effort Hergest Ridge is as good as his first album. Oldfield moved to the English countryside after Tubular Bells and the music on Hergest Ridge describes the bucolic surroundings of his new home. In his own words: "Lots of open countryside, smooth hills, a general feeling of smoothness and well being and non-hysteria, just a much nicer environment..if you want to get anything out of it, you've got to really listen to it."

I love the fact he is attempting to describe his home to us through music. Places are very important to me. The home we grew up in, our neighborhoods, our haunts during our formative years, and finally the place we make our stand. I think it's an interesting and intimate topic for an artist to cover. And it's obvious Oldfield is in love with his new countryside home. The music he plays has a nostalgic and somewhat surreal feel to it, almost Monet like to me.

The first half of side two is most effective to me in feeling the surroundings that Oldfield is residing in, it then moves into the chaotic and loud "storm" segment. This goes on a tad too long for me personally and after about 5 minutes it again shifts back to calmer waters.

Mike again plays a variety of guitars and other instruments and the moods vary from the serene to the dramatic but Hergest Ridge is more personal and less rocking than some of his future work would be. It is a beautiful work of art and recommended to fans of instrumental progressive music. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#123134)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album, MIKE OLDFIELD'S second, is a retreat in every sense of the word.

Overwhelmed by the success of 'Tubular Bells', OLDFIELD retreated to the countryside to write and record this second album. The result is pastoral, restrained and, to this ear, just a little thin. There are far fewer ideas here, and though they are well developed, there simply are not the moments of drama and excitement he offers in his other first-period albums.

That said, what he does here is so very well done. The multi-tracking is much more accomplished here than on his debut, and there are none of the cringeworthy moments that marred that otherwise excellent record. The album is more symphonic in its structure than 'Tubular Bells', with the opening theme repeated and developed at various places, until the record reaches a gentle climax at the end of side two. OLDFIELD used this technique on virtually all his subsequent albums, even during his 1980s 'pop' phase, to provide continuity across each album.

Most importantly, on this record OLDFIELD begins to reveal his utter mastery of melody. It is this facility above all others that has endeared him to his legion of fans - his ability to move the listener with the sheer eye-pricking beauty of a musical phrase. The last three minutes of the album stand testament to this.

Given the pressure on him after the enourmous success of 'Tubular Bells', I'm amazed he was able to issue anything anywhere near as good as this. An album that will forever remain in the shadow of its predecessor, but one well worth listening to in its own right. Just don't expect any pyrotechnics.

Report this review (#137824)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Score: 9.7/10 Incredible

Hergest Ridge is yet another beautiful album from Mike Oldfield. This album is extremely emotional in the sense that it gives off a very strong vibe. The melodies found here are very rich with feeling and make you wonder what Mike was doing in Hergest Ridge, what he was thinking and trying to evoke through these melodies. I certainly take a very rainy day, peaceful feel from the entire album, and it is overall an epic journey through the feelings and thoughts portrayed. I must take of a few points only due to my sleight lack of taste for a chunk of the second part. The song takes off a little too hard for the overall mood it is contained in. The song does return, though, to an extremely blissful ending and the original melody. This really caught my ear nicely and was a great moment, perhaps the chunk I dislike is enhancing that greater emotion for the ending, but I cannot help feeling it is too dragged and drab.

Hergest Ridge is a wonderful mood grabber and can engulf you heavily in it's scenery and vibe. Another great one from Mike, don't miss this!

Report this review (#144335)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Aaaaargh, Hergest Ridge.

This album is just as great as the debut Oldfield one. Can you imagine that only for the third time in the UK charts history, an album of the same artist will dethroned another one. In this case, Tubular Bells although released a year prior Hergest will do the work. But Hergest reached that spot straight away. First week in the charts, first position! What an achievement! Two instrumental albums from the same artist were peaking at the first position of the charts. Quite remarkable and never achieved later on.

This album doesn't have the same aura, exposure as its worldwide known predecessor. But the recipe is the same.

The ultra gifted Mike plays most of the instruments and is in full command of the composition. Some more ethnic sounds are featured here and therefore might please more (or less) his fans.

As far as I am concerned, this work is brilliant. Some great melodic lines can be experienced throughout both sides of this album. At no moment can I feel any kind of weakness during this great album (but it was the same for Tubular Bells). The choir part at the end of side one is particularly poignant and grandiose.

Lots of people did point out that the B-side of Tubular was weaker than the first part (myself included, because it is so). Nothing as such during Hergest Ridge. Just great all the way through.

To have imagined such a beautiful suite is just a mark of a giant IMHHO. Whatever will come next (I mean much later), this artist should be regarded as highly creative and essential.

Thank you very much Mike for such a great work. But he'll even superior this one. Can you believe this ?

Four stars for this excellent album.

Report this review (#158533)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A big step down from his masterpice debute and one of the best debute albums not only in prog but in music in general this one see Mike doing the same thing again but yust much lamer and softer and les variation theres alot of nice sweet melody on this one but its yust not as ground breaking and intresting or good or memorable, on tubular i culd remeber most of the melodys and when they where coming and still can on this one i can hardly remeber anything. The album is as other have described it pastoral sounding it gives me the feeling im in a old landscape with hills and forests and stuff but not like its a sunshine day more like a rainy and grey day. Its a good album if you like his other albums you will no doubt like this. Good, but non-essential.
Report this review (#161004)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A tone poem of the Enlgish contryside.

Difficult to describe, in fact that's why I shied away from reviewing Mike Oldfield's work. If you like the romantics then you will like this. Actually for some strange reason it was Walton's Touch her soft lips and part which sprung to mind while listening to Hergest Ridge.

Oldfield's composition (and peformance) is truly romantic. It aspires to be, but cannot match the orchestral works of the romantics but the emotional beauty has to be listened to.

This is excellent. I reckon it's an essential addition to your colelction. Better than TB but not as groundshaking becasue it was not the first (not becasue it is inferior).

If you like this listen to Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, Touch her Sift Lips and Part, and In Paradisum from Faure's Requiem

Report this review (#165511)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars Hergest Ridge part one feels like a very long intro to something that never comes. I just keep wondering when it is going to start, but it never really gets off the ground during its 22 minute running time. There is absolutely nothing offensive about this first piece, it is just very unremarkable and left no lasting impression on this reviewer whatsoever despite several tries. Hergest Ridge completely lacks the melodic aspects of Tubular Bells, Ommadawn and Incantations.

Part two is much better in one respect but not in another. Part two does indeed have at least some unexpected twists and turns, but not too much to get excited about after all. The up-tempo and noisy part that starts at 9:40 into the track is something of a sonic atrocity and it really hearts my ears! It goes on for several minutes before it changes slightly just to go on for several more minutes - Mike Oldfield is the master of repetition here. Listening through this whole passage is a real challenge for my poor ears. This is just awful and very naďve and childish composition much like some of the worst parts of Tubular Bells. But on Tubular Bells Mike knew how to move on to something else. The acoustic ending Hergest Ridge part two is very nice though, and a breath of fresh air after an overlong trial of boredom and near torture.

Melodically this album is like a journey through an enormous dessert. The first part of the journey is insignificant and quite boring; the second part starts out all right but towards the middle Mike is running out of water and the up-tempo part could be taken to depict him struggling for his life until he finally reaches a small oasis. He was really drying out of inspiration here. Fortunately, he would find new inspiration at the oasis for his next album, the very much better Ommadawn.

I really gave this album several chances to see what I was missing, but I still don't get it. Sorry Mike!

Report this review (#200785)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars From the first it was apparent that Mike Oldfield is a fan of pastoral English folk music. He got a lot of his inspiration from his home on Hergest Ridge, but Opus 1, AKA "Tubular Bells", showed so many facets of the man that his folky leanings were but one aspect. "Hergest Ridge", the follow up, spells it out quite clearly. While similar in structure to TB, it is far more reflective and ethereal, with fewer harsh interruptions. This even keel is more curse than blessing though.

The main melody that is played on oboe by Lindsay Cooper on Part 1 may be one of the most beautiful ever committed to vinyl, reflecting the peace and refuge of the English countryside. It leaves me wanting more of the same, but unfortunately the album does not hit a lot of highs, being generally inoffensive. Its mere appearance after TB meant that the novelty of a single piece in a work of popular music was already starting to wear off.

Another must-hear section is the "storm" segment of Part 2. Elsewhere, particularly late on Side 1, we hear similarities to the more sedate parts of RICK WAKEMAN's concurrent work "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", probably more a matter of absorption of the fashion of 1974 than outright copying.

Looking back at the first 15 years of Oldfield's career, I conclude that this ridge marks a timid if pretty gully from which he would very soon rise afresh.

Report this review (#205606)
Posted Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hergest Ridge is the second full-length studio album by UK progressive rock artist Mike Oldfield. After the huge succes of his now classic debut album Tubular Bells (1973) Mike Oldfield decided to make another album with only two side-long tracks.

The music on the album is atmospheric, ambient and pleasant ( almost no drums). Unlike the more busy ( well relatively busy) and multi themed music on Tubular Bells the music on Hergest Ridge is a bit more ambient and the main themes are developed over a longer period of time. Mike Oldfield again plays almost all instruments and again it´s hard not to be impressed with the end result. What a skilled musician. He was only about 20 years old at this time and already rather mature both as a musician and as a composer.

The production is pleasant and warm.

Hergest Ridge isn´t really to my taste as it tends to quickly become background music for me. The music would be very suited as movie soundtrack music IMO. It´s clever and intelligent though and do deserve a BIG 3 star rating. It´s my taste in music that prevents me from giving this album a higher rating not the quality of the music.

Report this review (#205832)
Posted Monday, March 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Little time, but big progress!

Despite the little time from the release of the debut, Mike Oldfield shows big progress about making solid albums. The first of them is Hergest Ridge. One of the main moments about this album is the fact, that folk influence on the album is much more increased, especially with celtic folklore, than in Tubular Bells. The conception and the ideas are developed much more precise, than in its predecessor. The production of the sound is professional in all the aspects, including some of my favourite - volume of the sound, gradual raise in drama until it reaches its peak at the end of the second part, saturated sound and the presence of a lot of optic angles of understanding music. 4 stars.

Report this review (#247815)
Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Oldfield's second not only retains all positive aspects of Tubular Bells but also manages to stay clear from the beginners faults that flawed Oldfield's debut album.

The album is shorter and doesn't fail to keep the mood going for its entire 40 minutes running time. The music gently flows through various section of Celtic inspired tunes and softly brooding atmospheres. Oldfield plays most instruments and has found a decidedly more appealing guitar sound then the brittle tone that disgraced Tubular Bells. The acoustic guitar and synths have a prominent role again but also other instruments provide highlights. The oboe solo halfway in part 1 for example is a beautiful lyrical moment. It grows into quite a climax complete with bells and swelling guitar sounds. The closing section features some romantic orchestral and chorus arrangements.

The second part is even better and starts with a melancholic pastoral theme; it's gentle and kind but burning with subdued passion. Great acoustic guitars again and a few minutes in, Sally Oldfield makes her appearance and provides a nice vocal. Things start to build up from then on. Halfway in, a big swirling theme played by a whole battery of overdubbed fuzzy guitars violently shatters the calm before the storm. It's a frenzied but uplifting section that never fails to make me smile and get my feet tapping.

Judging from the ratings, this album is overlooked by many but loved by everyone that embraced its spellbinding charm. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#269466)
Posted Thursday, March 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The follow up to Tubular Bells....

It was an impossible task to follow up the absolute massive success of Tubular Bells. Hergest Ridge was also panned by the critics and this led Mike Oldfield into a long period of depressions. I recently read a long interview with him in Classic Rock Present Prog about Hergest Ridge, which he is now remixing and re-releasing (he has bought all the rights to his back catalogue). My review is of the original version, though.

Hergest Ridge has a lot of Tubular Bells in it. The bells, that is. But it also have a lot of other aspects incorporated and it is a brand new piece of music, compared to Tubular Bells. And the comparison with Tubular Bells is it's major problem. The music on Hergest Ridge is actually good. It reminds me though of some Clearlight albums though with all the good things and the flaws.

The main theme on Hergest Ridge is very beautiful. A nice flute over some Spanish guitars and the vocals of his sister (?) and fellow PA artist Sally Oldfield. The main theme is alone worth four stars and is on par with Tubular Bells. The other themes is more claustrophobic and introvert avant-garde kind of new age music. It is also pretty boring stuff. Hergest Ridge has a crack running through it, I am afraid. But my main impression is that this album is far better than it's reputation and well worth checking out. A plus for the cover art work. I would not mind having that framed on one of my walls.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#297766)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My favorite MIKE OLDFIELD album that I happened to pick up for a dollar in a cut-out bin in the late 70s. Tubular Bells was amazing--like the Peter and the Wolf album for young people that used DAVID BOWIE for the story narration--but it seemed to garner much of its attention on the coattails of the William Friedkin film, The Exorcist. We were really unsure how much was 'hype' and association and how much of it was really critically worthy on its own merits. The quiet, under the radar Hergest Ridge (which refers to a very real geographic location that I once had the opportunity to climb while hiking Offa's Dyke on the Welsh border) is a much more cohesive, beautiful piece of music than "Bells," and far less pretentious and show-off-y piece than Ommadawn. Plus, it has one of my favorite melody themes of all-time--the side 2 beginning 2 1/2 minute acoustic guitar piece--which is, thankfully, repeated at the end. Yes, the "loud" bass/organ section on side two does drag on a bit, and Side 1 doesn't grab one as deeply as Side 2, but the peaceful pastoral beauty is such an enjoyable 'break' from so much of the other frenetic music (and world) happening at the same time--or at any time. Between side 2 of Dark Side of the Moon and Hergest Ridge it's no wonder I was so ready for ENO's "Science," "Discreet," and "Ambient" albums.

DAVID BEDFORD is a genius.

If this were longer I'd give it five stars. 4.5 stars.

P.S. I have now become familiar with Oldfield's 1979 re-master of Hergest Ridge and, while at first I found myself resistant to the added or amped up vocals, I have now become comfortable with them and understand and appreciate the more 'complete' feeling Mike must have had once he'd remastered it. I had no knowledge of the pressure and rush he was under when first composing and recording this, the follow up to Tubular Bells. It is even more remarkable, then, that this came out such a pastoral, medieval folkish masterpiece.

Bump this sucker up to 5 stars! It is a masterpiece!

Report this review (#299409)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Hergest Ridge wasn't advertised to the mainstream by a successful movie, and this is i think the reason of the partial commercial flop, if it can be called in this way, which occurred to this album.

Regardless the commercial point of view, this album is surely an improvement in terms of composing respect to the exceptional debut. Hergest Ridge is continuous. There's not the sensation of a patchwork of shorter parts tied together as in Tubular Bells (confirmed by the 2002 re-release), The melodies are more consistent even if a bit darker.

Darker may seem strange if one thinks that TB was soundtrack for a horror movie, but the whole album was not all on that mood.

Hergest Ridge has all the goods of its predecessor, including the bells, plus some singing of a kind that we'll find later on Incantations and as I have written more consistent melodies.

There are contact points with the German space-rock when the music gets repetitive (but never boring) and respect to German bands it's more solar and suitable also for a "background listening", something that's not very easy with Amon Duul II or Tangerine Dream.

I can't call it "masterpiece", but its 4 stars are brighter than the 4 that I gave to TB.

Report this review (#387205)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mike Oldfield - Hargest Ridge (1974)

On his second album multi-instrumentalist and composer Mike Oldfield continued the course set on his famous debut 'Tubular Bells'. This time both sides are worthwhile, whilst I have to admit I though the second side of Tubular Bells was much weaker then it's first side. Harvest Ridge has a less dominant sound and more continuity in it's composition. Oldfield still plays a lot of instruments, but this time there are also contributions of other musicians.

Now the thing is, Hargest Ridge has many strong melodies and atmospheres, but it doesn't seem to lead to anything. The opening section of side one is strong and the compositions evolves into many different themes, but I can't say I'm really that much interested in all Oldfield's ideas. The sound is a bit blurry and the impact of all the different instruments played is much less fascination then on the debut. Still this is good follow-up that shows Mike Oldfield wasn't a one-hit wonder. The way he combines instruments like the flutes on the opening section and the symphonic arrangements are always original. His sound and the way the music is put together is very unique. I guess it would have helped for me if he would have given some meaning to the sub-parts of the compositions by giving them interesting titles, or by telling a musical story in general.

Conclusion. Another strong instrumental effort by Mike Oldfield that is attractive for those who liked the debut. Whilst having more continuity, Hergest Ridge is less challenging then Tubular Bell's and the album sounds a bit too descent. The composition is however strong and unique and this peaceful, gentle album might be suited to lift your spirits any time. Three and a halve stars.

Report this review (#443506)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Hergest Ridge' is a lovely album which is quite subtle compared to the distinctive "Tubular Bells". If you lay back and carefully listen, you can appreciate it a lot more than you may otherwise do. I seem to discover more magic each time.

The album has plenty of delicate, classically inspired passages, which are melodic and peaceful.There are wonderful holy vocals, varied instrumentation, including string parts, folky flute and even some sleighbells! Listen for the accomplished soft guitar playing on here too. I love the style very much. I find that Oldfield's proficiency is often very overlooked.

For five minutes towards the end of part 2, the blasting progressive keyboards and squealing electric guitar unfortunately break the mood of the album. But the utterly sweet section of folky guitar follows with a string section tugging at your heart and emotions. Be patient with how this excellent work links many musical ideas together. It proves that the young Mike Oldfield was hugely talented at both arranging and producing. Four solid stars.

Report this review (#456095)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6/10

After the success of Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield, who was uncomfortable with all the attention he was being given refuge in the English countryside in which to work on their next album. The result is Hergest Ridge, in reference to a ridge that was near his residence at the time.

Hergest Ridge is at the same time similar and different from Tubular Bells. Like its predecessor, is an album composed of a single song, and has a gam of instruments very well - worked (the best of them being the beautiful oboe used in the first part). But an album is much more subtle, sublime and relaxed, perhaps a result of their experience Oldfield at the time - the only really scary moment is a sequence in the second part apparently consists of sinthesizers. In addition, there are powerful choruses and beautiful passages Christmas (?), But they do not make my appreciation for this album higher than I have for Tubular Bells or Ommadawn.

3 stars. A good album, but without the same energy of its predecessor and that was unfortunately overshadowed by the success of this.

Report this review (#519088)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazingly, Mike Oldfield managed to find it in him to produce another exceptional Canterbury- tinged folk-prog album suit within a year or so of the release of Tubular Bells - this despite being quite perturbed by the fame the earlier release had earned him. Hergest Ridge is more pastoral in nature than its predecessor, which makes sense since it was composed during a country retreat whilst Oldfield was in hiding from the stresses and temptations of fame. Nostalgic and occasionally twee? Yes, but there's no mistaking Oldfield's perfect command of mood and ability to sustain tension across the course of an album.

Even if he did win yet more mainstream success with it, there's no denying that in 1974 nobody was making anything quite like this material. With Hergest Ridge, Oldfield once again proves that he deserves to be regarded as one of prog's true innovators.

Report this review (#526927)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars That difficult second album. A cliché, pretty well worn, but, as with most clichés, containing an element of truth. When, however, your debut album sold by the millions of truckloads, you are hailed as THE future of rock music, indeed, its very saviour, and you have gone from being utterly unknown except to your family and a hippy businessman with a beard, then any follow up was always going to be slightly difficult.

It is, to me at any rate, somewhat unfortunate that Oldfield's entire career will be judged by the benchmark of Tubular Bells, because I feel that he has done much better, and this album is a very good example of that. Yes, TB is a classic, deservedly in the upper echelons of rock's genius releases, but I cannot help feeling that I am not alone in stating that it has not aged particularly well. I actually prefer the two sequel TB works, and I also think, in hindsight, that Hergest Ridge is a better album. Certainly, side two is the equal of side one on this album, a charge that very few, I feel, could level at Tubular Bells.

As might be expected, there are deep similarities between the two works, released as they were, within a year of each other. There are parts when you struggle to differentiate between the two. Listen carefully, and them bells also make a few, subtle, appearances. There are, however, far stronger differences that set this album apart.

When Oldfield had become as big as God in terms of album sales, he suffered greatly, his quiet and almost reclusive personality turning away from the trappings of fame. He bought a big pad in the middle of nowhere, and composed this album there. Certainly, we hear in Hergest Ridge the first elements of the pastoral, folk like music which would later become a hallmark, with strong Celtic leanings. The use of oboes, and other orchestra instruments, also adds a far richer texture to this album than Tubular Bells. In addition, the choral effects are wonderful - no annoying nasal passages here, just a rich sound of harmony with deliberately understated backing. Think of classical music set in the modern age, and you are getting somewhere near the mark. It is also the case that this is, to these ears, where Oldfield's trademark electric guitar beauty first came to the fore and led proceedings where it appeared.

The musicianship is never anything less than superb (again, unlike TB, where all sorts of glitches on the original pressing were apparent), and it is an album I find perfect listening for a breezy autumnal evening outside, as it is in my part of rural Wales. Spellbinding, evocative in its rural charm, and relentlessly engaging.

Four stars for this, an album that every Oldfield fan should own, and also recommended highly for those who like their prog intelligent, pastoral, fused with classical sensibilities, and just, well, damn good.

Report this review (#544191)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I find the first two Mike Oldfield albums comparable to the first two Soft Machine albums in terms of the first ones of both being very up-and-down or sinusoidal (yes, you can boo the cheap joke) in quality where the seconds are more even and constant. The problem in Oldfield's case is that the album's evenness is its undoing; HERGEST RIDGE really could have been a terrific masterpiece had Oldfield took a few risks.

So, if you have familiarity with the first Mike Oldfield album TUBULAR BELLS, there are some slight adjustments to make HERGEST RIDGE sound a little more rounded and even, even bringing in some Tangerine Dream-esque soundscapes. The theme that strikes my attention happens halfway into the second part that sounds like a Tangerine Dream setup. Still, it sounds like Oldfield played it safe and tried a bit too much into making the second album similar to the first, and that hurts HERGEST RIDGE in the long haul. Then again, there are no points on the album like the grunting (or is it snoring; hard to tell) from TUBULAR BELLS that would make me grimace, so I give Oldfield some credit.

Report this review (#941492)
Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This installment of Mike Oldfield finds the listener transported to quieter, more peaceful times. Not forsaking his knack for extended tracks, Oldfield does not deliver a masterpiece. Though, to question whether or not this album pleases the ears is a disgrace to music in general. The first half invites the listener to bask in a tranquil landscape of melodic chords and guitar strumming that, in all honesty, can only be described as pleasurable. This must be where Hergest Ridge lies, for the melody is mirrored briefly in Part 2. All the notes are perfectly fit to be played together. This really demonstrates the calmer side of Oldfield's musicianship. However, once side 2 is played there is the same feeling of growing repetition that was introduced on the previous half. About halfway through side 2, there erupts a fierceness bridled with the intensity of Oldfield's driving virtuosity, reminding us that he is still capable of producing hard-hitting rock anthems, and the gradual journey that takes you there only makes the climax all the more impressive. The ending closes off the music with a nice reprise of a previous theme and wraps up the album nicely. The farewell of Hergest Ridge.

The album as a whole works very well with the multiple melodies that Oldfield is able to invent, because they do subliminally transfer over the two sides. While it is certainly no masterpiece, it is very much worth listening to, particularly if you are a fan of his other works. Or music in general for that matter.

Report this review (#1139008)
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well said, this is obviously a legendary album by multi instrumentalist Mike Oldfield and I have to admit that I am not a big fan of his music even though I have many albums of him. Actually it's for a simple reason: because Mike is the seventies musician where I knew prog music at the first time. So, I had couple of his albums in the forms of CD as well as cassette. For Hergest Ridge I only have the cassette version. Honestly this is not the cassette that I regularly play as at first I was not quite familiar with the kind of music Mike plays especially with this album. A friend of mine during college tiem in Bandung, West Java, always played the music of Mike Oldfield whenever he studied in the evening for next day exam. I was with him at that time when he played the Tubular Bells album. I could not afford to listen to that kind of music where to me was a bit of boring as only rarely the triable sound of THING comes up every one minuet or so. What a boring music!

Fortunately this Hergest Ridge is not as bad as Tubular Bells as the music is quite varied in terms of style and composition with main structure lies on the keyboard-like sound and unique guitar sounds of Mike Oldfield. I can not quite differentiate, really, between part 1 and 2 as they both alike. The music is ambient in nature and You won't be able to guess on the direction of the melody as it sounds like a free flow melody that does nt form something really memorable. So to me the key to enjoy this kind of music is listening to the subtleties of the sounds produced segment by segment of the track.

Overall, it's a good album as you can get various kinds of instruments that flow in an ambient mode throughout the album. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1253022)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ''Tubular bells'' was one of the best selling music products in the UK, over 2,500,000 copies were bought by the public, while the main theme of the album became the soundtrack of the horror film ''The excorcist''.Oldfield was not quite comfortable with this sudden popularity and relocated to the English countryside, near Kington in Herefordshire.1974 sees him participating on Robert Wyatt's album ''Rock bottom'', while he had already started working on a second album.During the spring of 1974 he returned to The Manor Studios and recorded ''Hergest ridge'', named after a hill near his house and close to the England-Wales borders.The album was released in August on Virgin and features drummer Chili Charles, Lindsay Cooper and June Whiting on oboe, Clodagh Simonds (from Mellow Candle) and Sally Oldfield on vocals, Ted Hobart on trumpet and David Bedford as the strings&choir conductor.Mike Oldfield plays acoustic and electric guitars, different organs and percussion and mandolin on the album.

Oldfield was not enthusiastic about his star rising, but at the same time he was not ready to abandon the long and atmosphertic music forms as presented on ''Tubular bells''.As a consequence ''Hergest ridge'' was yet another attempt on refined Orchestral Prog Rock with spacey, symphonic and pronounced British Folk flavors, split in two parts, each lasting a bit over or under 20 minutes long.The music is mostly instrumental and listening to the first part you can just admire the genius and talent of this young English composer and multi-instrumentalist.The material passes through various orchestrations, which combine Modern Classical Music with British Folk, but the cosmic grooves of ''Tubular bells'' along with the soft electric melodies are alive and kicking in this track as well.The mood is airy, pleasant and ethereal, the orchestrations with the wind instruments and string parts are beautiful, so are the rural soundscapes created by Oldfield via his acoustic guitar and the light organ parts.Charming instrumental delivery, which says farewell with a cinematic choir and Olfield's bells and recorders.As expected the second part shows no significant stylistic differences compared to the first, the music has still a strong Folk touch, but the opening minutes offer female vocals and mandolin next to the smooth electric guitars, while from the middle part begins an innovative instrumental section with guitar distortions fused with electronics and orchestral effects.Really fascinating and genuine music before the outro, which is an acoustic one with recorders, choirs and symphonic keyboards in an almost Celtic-like and grandiose melody.

Pretty great work of dreamy Progressive Rock fused with strong Folk melodies and Classical sections.Strongly recommended, especially if you love also the works of STEVE HACKETT, GORDON GILTRAP or ANTHONY PHILLIPS...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1280684)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oldfield's Third-Best Album.

This is a very strong musical composition, rooted more in English folk music traditions, and slower and more mature than Tubular Bells. This one did not live up to the expectations of fans of Tubular Bells when initially released, and thus so got some bad press, and even Oldfield has said he got a bit bored recording this one (and since then has said it is not his 'favourite' album, which, I think, must be Ommadawn). Nonetheless, this album is really excellent. Like Tubular Bells and Ommadawn, this is one single composition constructed over two sides of a 45-minute vinyl LP, and like those albums involves constantly shifting and weaved-together melodic themes. It takes the listener on a musical journey, and makes an original statement. Also, like those other two, this one ends by breaking with the rest of the music and presenting a distinctly different piece (in this case, an almost-heavy metal repeated distorted-guitar version of an English/Irish jig, thus both keeping with, but also breaking with, the Sailor's Hornpipe ending of Tubular Bells). One thing I particularly appreciate on this album is the excellent guitar playing by Oldfield, of which later albums (from Incantations onward) would have too little. His guitar playing style is really unique - one of the few guitar players you can pick out instantaneously based on his style. I also really like the melodies here, which use non-traditional notes (major 2nds, 6ths, major 7ths) as key bases of the melodic lines, which is one reason why I would call this album 'mature'. They stick in one's mind for eons. Once again, this marks Oldfield as a major original composer. This album makes up, for me, one of the 'trilogy' of 5-star Oldfield albums (with Tubular Bells and Ommadawn). While slightly weaker than Tubular Bells, it is still great. But you have to like slow music to like this album, which thankfully I do. I give it 9.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 5 PA stars.

Report this review (#1718275)
Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
1 stars After the massive success of 'Tubular Bells', an album that made Mike Oldfield and the Virgin brand household names, it's almost surreal to hear the follow-up, 'Hergest Ridge', disappoint on every level.

While the music itself isn't unlike what Oldfield did before, everything just seems so lifeless here. Which isn't too surprising, considering that he wrote it while uncomfortable with the fame that had come with its predecessor. A mixture of progressive rock, new age and folk music, if there was anything I could consider a highlight it would be the last five minutes, which features an odd kind of symphonic duel guitar harmony. It's nothing overly eventful though. I'll probably never listen to it again.

With all of that said, I am a huge Mike Oldfield fan, and I love how diverse his discography is. It just doesn't seem right that I struggle to find anything remarkable on this album, but sadly that's all it comes down to.

Sorry Mike. Can't win 'em all.

Report this review (#1743948)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars In this world that has been [%*!#]ed-up and ruined by The Man and his right-wing friends, there is one place to escape to if only for a little while. Mike Oldfield's Hergest is both my favorite Oldfield album and one of my favorite albums ever. Hergest Ridge evokes a fairy-tale world were no hate or violence exists only beautiful creatures and beautiful music. This Otherworld is enhanced by the unusual but awesome combinations of instruments and sounds. Mike's trusty and beautiful Cherry Red Gibson SG Junior both rocks out fast and slow on the one hand and softly sooths and cries on the other. There are both real and synthetic orchestra's on this album. The real orchestra conducted by David Bedford is the suitable source of the romantic parts of Hergest Ridge whilst the whistling synthetic strings curtesy of the Farfisa Organ, Lowrey Organ and GEM Organ create the magic of the Otherworld itself.
Report this review (#2170618)
Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second of the first four Mike Oldfield albums that are for me all masterpieces! What surprises me the most with this one is that he was able to compose such a work after all the emotional pressure he had to know after the succes of "Tubular bells". All the beginning is very soothing and relaxing like the first seconds that make me think of the music of a Tibetan monastery ; the rest is much more folk. We find in "Hergest ridge" a typical aspect of his music : a "complex" theme that is developed and regularly comes back, on side one as well as on side two (two parts of a long composition). The music is more slow in general but the melodies are very rich and captivating. To listen absolutely if you don't know!

Report this review (#2275128)
Posted Sunday, October 27, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars or, what happens when you're stuck in between two legendary albums.

Mike didn't fiddle about and quickly followed his landmark debut Tubular Bells with another tranquilizing record. Hergest Ridge, named after a hill looming over recently acquired cottage, clearly brings peaceful vibes to the table. The introductory theme succeeds in setting the tone for the album, with delicate interplay of whistled melodies, gentle glockenspiel and incredibly tasty mandolin lead. Slow, but consequential buildup culminates with solemn trumpet and reassuring guitar strumming. I like how Oldfield manages to pour out sweet melodies without sounding naive or self-indulgent. I believe the trick lies in timely placed contrasts, be it wailing guitar leads, uptempo sleigh bells or cloudy tubulars appearing in crucial moments.

I applaud Mike for improving compositional skills. I'm no expert on music theory, but transition between motifs is almost seamless and general flow is much, much smoother than it used to be. It's especially pleasing on Part One, where pretty much every idea comes at a right time, no filler, no hesitation. Fans of unraveling, self-referencing and "logical" pieces will surely like this one. Yet on the other hand, cohesion comes with a price - Tubular Bells is known for variety and numerous themes hiding around every corner. Hergest Ridge is also interesting, but obviously Mike didn't aim as high this time around.

You see, Hergest Ridge really conveys Herefordshire imagery, vividly painting grassy slopes, vast pastures and river valleys. Abundance of unplugged instruments and soft segments reinforces this picture, so even if I've never been there (admittedly), the music makes me think it's a calm place, sparsely populated and contemplative in its nature.

Part Two takes the same direction at first. One of my favorite moments comes 3 minutes in - that catchy, acoustic guitar melody accompanied by mandolin and female choirs, likely Sally Oldfield's work. For some reason it reminds me of Incantations, maybe the feel is somewhat New Agey. In any case, Part Two remains interesting throughout, but I have to single out that metallic, chaotic section at 9:30 or so. It probably depends on the mix and speakers, but the last couple of times I didn't enjoy it much, rather found it tiring and unimpressive. Especially the first minute or two - before guitar solo comes in - almost spoil Part Two for me. I'm all for sonic experiments, but some of them are destined to fail imho. Cacophony somehow gets "better" later on, but it's fair to say that section swallows up a big chunk of Part Two, as it ends at 15:00 or so.

Thankfully it all calms down before coda. That last bit of Hergest Ridge is very picturesque and emotional. Sally's vocal theme is brought back beautifully and symphonic tones shine so bright. As far as endings go, this one is decidedly more structured and rich than "Sailor's Hornpipe" from the debut.

It seems "structure" is a keyword to Hergest Ridge. Lavish melodies and explicitly British sceneries make this album more of an "Ommadawn's precursor" than "Tubular successor". Narratives aside, I believe it's a really precious piece of art, encompassing worlds of symphonic, prog, classical and even world music. Mike Oldfield moves skillfully between these genres, defining his unique style at the age of 20. Don't miss it, sit back, enjoy.

Report this review (#2414011)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2020 | Review Permalink

MIKE OLDFIELD Hergest Ridge ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of MIKE OLDFIELD Hergest Ridge

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.