Top positive review
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On often overlooked treat of an album.
on 9 August 2015
'Hergest Ridge' is, in my opinion, an often overlooked gem in the early firmament of Mr Oldfields oeuvre.
The second album to be released by Oldfield (in 1974), it followed on from the ground-breaking and incredibly successful 'Tubular Bells' (TB); it's usually to be found fully and firmly in its elder siblings shadow.
Hergest Ridge is, for those who didn't know or realise, a large elongated hill which traverses the England-Welsh border. The cover from the album features scenery from the Ridge as well as an Itish Woolfhound (apparently called Bootleg) on the LP label cover.
Mike Oldfield retreated from the overwhelming public attention he received after Tubular Bells was released, and lived near to the ridge during the process for this second album.
If your interest is to find note-by-note reviews on the album; all ithat s required is a quick web search, and if that is your interest then it might be best to move on to another review now.
For me, this (2010 reissue) mix is subtle, evocative and full of depth and 'flavour', showing the multi instrumentalist at his absolute best.
The two movements open and widen the ground laid down by TB, but enhance it, further defining it in subtle but important ways.
Listening to both TB and HR back to back gives an extra dimension to both and is a sonic treat. Listen to HR on its own and you can sink into the myriad tone and phrases that the artist weaves around you in a subtle but impressive manner.
The mix and audio quality of this issue is clear and warm and, as is often the case with his work, Oldfield's playing is sublime.
If TB is a tour de force, then Hergest Ridge is a subtle reinforcement of the genre of music that (perhaps apart from Jarre) is Oldfirld's alone.
In the 1970's, these early Oldfield albums were astounding, unexpected, revolutionary, and even today, settling down to listen to Hergest Ridge and rediscovering such a sharply realised work is an audio treat - on this specific version you also have bonus tracks of 'In Dulci Jubilo' and 'Spanish Tune'.
Both are great songs but I prefer to listen to the album as originally intended and, if I have the time, in tandem with Tubular Bells.
So, for me, this is a must-have album. Overlooked and in shadow, this younger sibling is well worth the investment of time and money.