Hergest Ridge is a record album, written and mostly performed by Mike Oldfield released in 1974 (see 1974 in music). It was his second album and like its predecessor, Tubular Bells, was number 1 in the UK album charts, but unlike its predecessor, it went straight in at the top spot.
After being in the spotlight for Tubular Bells, something that Oldfield found uncomfortable, he retreated to the English countryside to work on his next opus. Hergest Ridge, named after a hill on the border of Herefordshire and Wales near where he was living at the time, was the result.
Hergest Ridge was the number one album the week of 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 three artists (along with The Beatles and Bob Dylan) to have defeated themselves in this manner.
Like Tubular Bells, the album is divided into two movements, but unlike its multi-themed and rapidly-changing predecessor, Hergest Ridge involves economic use of the various themes and with more sophisticated musical development. Oldfield is also innovative with Hergest Ridge in the novel way in which he builds up textures, commonly involving multiple layers of electric guitar recorded by first amplifying heavily (to achieve a sustained organ-like quality) and then reducing the volume greatly. 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 quadraphonic stereo by Oldfield in 1976 for the 4-LP set, Boxed. Following the creation of the remix, Oldfield stated that he wished for this new version to be the one used for all future releases of the album. All CD releases have the "Boxed" mix, as do most of the later pressings of LP and cassette. The remastered bootleg version of the original mix is distributed in the Internet.
An orchestral version of Hergest Ridge was arranged and conducted by David Bedford, the same as The Orchestral Tubular Bells. Parts of its performances were used in the NASA documentary The Space Movie. To date, it has not been officially released.
Hergest Ridge is a popular vacation 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) is named Bootleg. "Hergest" in the title should be pronounced with hard "g" and with the first "e" pronounced as an "a" - either "Hargist" or "Hargest" - not "Herjest", "Harjest" or "Harjist".