The Amarok FAQ contains answers to the most frequently asked questions about Mike Oldfield. Most of the questions on this page were asked and answered on the Amarok mailing list. .
Last update: 8th August 2005.
1.1 Where can I find an updated version of this FAQ?
2.1 Where can I find a Mike Oldfield discography on the web?
3.1 Did Mike record music for the movie 'La Jeune Fille Assassinee' (1974)?
4.1 What does "Ommadawn" mean?
5.1 I want information about the people who work(ed) with Mike Oldfield.
6.1 Where can I buy Mike Oldfield CDs, LPs, rare singles, etc?
The most recent version of the FAQ can always be found at:
There is a mirror at:
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Yes, there is a Mike Oldfield Fan Club on Yahoo, at http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/mikeoldfieldfanclub, and a newsgroup at alt.music.mike-oldfield. Tubular Web hosts Tubular Forums at: http://tubular.net/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi.
The Hibernaculum Mailing List is at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hibernaculum.
There are forums in languages other than English:
The Mike Oldfield Information Service is the Official Mike Oldfield Magazine, Newswire and Web Site. You can reach The Mike Oldfield Information Service at http://www.mikeoldfield.org
The official online biography is at The Mike Oldfield Information Service's website http://www.mikeoldfield.org.
Others include the one on the Amarok website (in the 'Mike Oldfield' section), as well as the following:
For official up-to-date information, please go to the News section of The Mike Oldfield Information Service (http://www.mikeoldfield.org), or the Official Mike Oldfield site, http://www.mikeoldfield.com.
Lazlo Nibble's discography, at http://www.swcp.com/lazlo-bin/discogs?oldfield, is highly recommended. Among its chapters are the liner notes from Amarok, "Television and Live Appearances", "Bibliography", "Oldfield Fanzines And Related Publications" and "Notes On Various Album Mixes". The last one is good if you want to know the Boxed remix of TB, HR or O from the "ordinary" one (See also 2.11). It's also searchable, for those looking for very specific things.
The one by Rainer Münz is located at:
Pablo Ayllon has a a detailed discography including release dates and cover thumbnails, at: http://www.amadian.net/discography.htm.
Richard Carter's discography includes an in-depth look at each album's background, its production and the instruments used. It can be found at: http://www.rcarter.34sp.com/oldfield/discography.html.
There are also lyrics for more obscure things like unreleased songs, translations and explanations of the Five Miles Out radio messages at http://www.ommadawn.dk/mou. An analysis of the poems quoted in Incantations can be found at:
Credit: Carl Pettypiece, firstname.lastname@example.org, olivier lebra, email@example.com, Stefan Nilsson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Magnus Goeting, email@example.com, Per Arneng, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lars Kroll, email@example.com, German Buela, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For others opinions on albums, check out:
Go to http://tubular.net/tcmorg/ for The Complete Mike Oldfield Reference Guide.
Credit: Chris Kimber, email@example.com.
It refers to Mike's caveman growling in Part Two.
The Piltdown Man was an anthropological hoax. The exact perpetrator of the hoax has never been revealed. The hoax consisted of placing the jawbone of some Neanderthal variant into the skull of a gorilla, or the other way around. In any case, the anthropologist who "discovered" it (keeping in mind that, of course, he was meant to discover it) trumpeted it to be evidence of the missing link between apes and humans and so on. It took several years before the hoax was discovered, and it certainly destroyed some credibility within the field.
It can be found on Boxed. It was made for the original Tubular Bells, but didn't make it. From the Boxed booklet: "At the time, the result was considered a little too bizarre to place on an album by a complete unknown, so it was replaced by an instrumental version. Now [the release of Boxed] seems as opportune a moment as any to take the antimacassar off the original, which can be heard in all its magnificent foolishness at the end of side two."
The Boxed version of Tubular Bells can also be heard as a multi-channel mix on the SACD remaster (this mix is only playable on SACD players, normal CD players will only play the original mix of Tubular Bells). On the SACD cover, Viv Stanshall is credited for the first time with "the Sailors Hornpipe commentary" in the list of instruments on Part Two.
The premiere concert, in December 1974, was covered by the BBC. There are bootleg copies of this recording around - probably mono only. The orchestra was The Royal Philharmonic conducted by David Bedford, and the guitarist was Steve Hillage.
Another concert of the work was performed on May 5th 1976 by The Scottish National Orchestra, again conducted by Bedford, with Hillage on guitar. (Andy Summers - later of The Police - took part in other performances). It was recorded by Radio Clyde (a Scottish station) and Virgin bought the rights.
Mike never took part in the concert series, and sadly Hergest Ridge is rarely played at his own concerts. The Scottish concert shows up on The Space Movie because Virgin owned the rights to it, and is more likely to be a stereo recording. Probably due to a veto from Mike, it has never had a proper release.
There was an acetate of The Space Movie soundtrack, but it was not the same as the film soundtrack. It is just a special mix of elements that were already available to Virgin (and did not include the Incantations out-takes heard in the film), but of course, as the album was never released, it is a very rare acetate. No test pressing was ever made.
Phil Newell was given the job of putting together the double LP in 1980. It had a Townhouse label on it and I'm pretty sure only 3 of the 4 sides had grooves - so in order to hear all of it Phil had to dig out the tape for me. Basically it is all original music with mixed-in quotations and sounds from the space race era.
Here is the tracklisting:
The version of Orchestral Hergest Ridge on Side 1 includes 2 minutes of Part 1 and most of Part 2, with the Martian Song (also known as the "thunderstorm"), spliced in from the album version.
An earlier version of Don Alfonso appears on Lol Coxhill's album Ear Of The Beholder (1971). Both he and David Bedford sing the same verses and chorus - with some funny mistakes where they forget the words. It is just them and a piano (like "Speak").
The songwriter's credit goes to Ted Waite and the publishers are Lawrence Wright Music. However, Mike decided to list it as "traditional". The song is probably no older than the Second World War.
See also 3.18.
The official Ommadawn sheet music includes these lyrics, transcribed from the record:
Ab yul ann I dyad awt en yab na log a toc na awd taw may on ommadawn egg kyowl ommadawn egg kyowl
After listening to it some knowledgeable Irish people decided that the first section is incomprehensible, but it has been translated as "The cat is in the kitchen, drinking milk". The second part is different, however. Here is a translation into written Irish:
Ta me an Ommadawn eg Cheoil Ommadawn eg Cheoil.
However upon close listening its been decided that the EGG is actually a LE and the passage is written in Irish thus:
Ta me an Ommadawn le Cheoil Ommadawn le Cheoil.
Although its language has been disputed this line is certainly Irish. It is too much of a coincidence that 'kyowl' is the same sound as the Irish word 'cheoil', which means 'music'. Significantly this line translates as:
I am the fool with music, fool with music
The more accepted translation up till now is:
I'm the Fool and I'm laughing
However, the Irish word for 'laughing' is 'Gairre'. Ommadawn is acknowledged as being a Gaelic/Irish word, so it does not make sense for the rest to be in a different language.
I asked Mike, "The lyrics to On Horseback have a section that goes 'Some like the city, some the noise/Some make ***** and others toys.' What's the missing word?"
Mike thought for a moment, hummed the lines to himself and replied:
I then explained that it had been a point of disagreement between fans since forever, and Mike asked what people were mis-hearing it as; when I said "cars" he burst out laughing.
If you have Tubular Bells and Ommadawn on either CD or LP, you have the original mix. Hergest Ridge on early LPs is the original mix, some Hergest Ridge LPs pressed after 1976 and all the Hergest Ridge CDs contain the Boxed remix (see 2.12).
When Phil Newell began work on the Boxed remix of Tubular Bells, he discovered that some instruments - including a piano - were missing from the multi-track tape, and had to re-record them.
The difference is particularly noticeable in the climax of Part One, where the bells are softer (they were sonically distorted on the original recording). Mike had more or less destroyed the original set of Tubular Bells by hitting them with coal hammers (Mike says he used a sledgehammer), so a new set was bought and recorded. A quadrophonic remix was made prior to the Boxed version, so the bells are likely to have been recorded then. The "reed & pipe organ" sounds much more like an organ than the buzz on the original mix - this also sounds like a fresh recording. The girlie chorus is a semitone lower and more ethereal. There are also a few instruments in the four channel mix which were not used on the stereo mix, such as extra acoustic guitar at the end of side 2.
The original mix of Hergest Ridge is not rare at all. It can be found on around 90% of all Hergest Ridge LPs worldwide. The Boxed remix is available on very few LPs: I remember a US reissue and a French reissue - and of course the Boxed LP. But it has never been released on official CD - that's why people think it's rare. They don't have a record player and can't listen to old vinyl. That's all. The design of the Hergest Ridge LPs (title at the top or at the bottom) doesn't say anything about the version on the record. It seems to be totally random which version you get, e.g. there is a US reissue with the Boxed remix, but a later US reissue again has the original mix.
To add to the confusion, there is a Spanish edition of Boxed that contains the ORIGINAL Hergest Ridge, and Tubular Bells without The Sailor's Hornpipe (it finishes with the organ section).
If you have Boxed on LP, you have all the Boxed remixes (either quad or stereo), but if you have Boxed on CD, Tubular Bells Part 1 might still be the original mix. (If the number 1355 is part of the matrix number, like in SONOPRESS F-1355 CDBOX1-1 you have the Boxed mix. You can tell the difference by looking at the matrix number and whether it ends with 1A or 1B.) There are 2 different versions of the Boxed CDs. One version has no SONOPRESS printing on the inner circle of the CDs, just CDBOX-1 or something like that.
Besides this, special editions exist with other mixes (quad discs, picture discs). For further details: please see
Credit: Morten Due Joergensen, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jose Luis Gonzalez, JLuis@ThePentagon.com and the Spanish MO mailing list, Rainer Münz, email@example.com, Rob Miles, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcus Junglas, email@example.com, Alois Nusko, Nacho Marin, firstname.lastname@example.org, Martin Bartosik, email@example.com, sleeve notes by Simon Heyworth and Phil Newell for the Tubular Bells SACD, and the BBC Radio programme Seven More Days That Rocked The World.
Mike instructed that the Boxed Remix should be the standard version for all future vinyl and CD issues.
According to the Boxed sleevenotes, Mike removed guitar parts that he had only inserted because he was worried that people might think it was too repetitive. At the time his view was that there was nothing wrong with repetition so long as it was something worth repeating. Now, we can argue whether Hergest Ridge is too repetitive or not, but the original mix fans should note that the parts that were deleted were only added for commercial reasons, not because Mike thought they should be there. Therefore, we should accept that the Boxed version is closer to Mike's vision.
I expect it was because the remix is so slimmed down, causing less problems with dynamic range, etc. I also expect the original has not been preserved because of a certain degree of apathy. Mike tends not to like albums which he associates with negative feelings - he's been dismissive of Amarok for much of the past ten years because it was such a commercial failure. The critical failure of HR is something he's frequently commented upon. I've always believed that Mike's remix of HR was a kind of response to the criticism - he tried to make it 'better'.
From a purely technical point of view, he succeeded, for the mix was no longer swamped beyond the limitations of the medium (at least, not as swamped), but the human ear and brain are wonderful instruments that can, with practice, edit out imperfections. The music is what is important, not the technical quality.
The track Argiers was recorded in January 1976 at Mike's house in Througham, Gloucestershire. It is one of several acoustic guitar/recorder pieces that he did with Les Penning. As Mike's studio was still being built, The Manor Mobile was used and cables run into one of the rooms. Portsmouth was also done at this time and in this way. It was first issued on the Boxed set of LPs and as a B-side to Portsmouth (except in the UK where it was a B-side to the William Tell Overture) in late 1976. It is also available on Boxed and the Elements 4-disc set. It is another of those traditional tunes that Mike arranged (see 3.18.)
The Path was recorded about 6 - 9 months later than Argiers for the Arts Council Film 'Reflection'.
Part 2 is nothing other than excerpts from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Hiawatha; some of the verses have been re-arranged and a word or two changed. (The lyrics printed on the Japanese Incantations LP sleeve are wrong. See: http://www.ommadawn.dk/mou/inc/nippon.html.)
Part 4 includes Ben Jonson's Ode to Cynthia, from Cynthia's Revels, again with re-arrangements and an occasional word change. See:
An analysis of the changes to these lyrics can be found at:
Most copies of Platinum list the track Sally, but the only place it actually appeared was on the first two LP pressings. The story goes that Richard Branson didn't like the song and insisted that it be replaced with Into Wonderland. Virgin didn't bother to update the album packaging.
The curious thing is that Wendy Roberts insists the song she recorded was called Sally at the sessions and had never heard the title Into Wonderland.
So Mike recorded two songs with the same title and they were swapped after a handful of pressings. I also remember Phil Newell telling me he saw physical splices in the master tape where the swap took place. There was either confusion caused by someone picking up the wrong tape when compiling the album or it was a deliberate joke. I think Richard Branson is in the clear, as how come Mike was able to replace the track so easily - with something that was recorded several months before! The finger points in Mike's direction.
If your copy of Platinum doesn't have a song on it with a chorus that begins with the lyric "Sally, I'm Just A Gorilla", you don't have a copy with the original Sally on it. You can also tell by checking the matrix number pressed into the runout groove on the B-side of the album; pressings with Sally have matrix numbers ending in "-B1" and "-B2". More information about the two "Sally" songs can be found on the Platinum page (http://www.amarok.ommadawn.net/mike/discog/platinum.htm) at the Amarok Mailing List site.
I bought the LP very soon after release date and my copy had Wendy singing, my brother bought the cassette with the other song on it. The timespan could not have been more than a couple of weeks between the two pressings.
Afghan (working title Celtic) was done at the same time as the Discovery LP in Switzerland (early 1984). But the tune for Afghan could be something he had tinkered with for years prior to its release.
Peter Claridge of CAL Video Graphics helped Mike with the videos for Pictures In The Dark and Shine, and started a company making video walls for exhibitions and the like. Music For The Video Wall is the soundtrack to a video wall presentation that Mike did for Peter, around 1986 or 87.
I assume the music was part of a commercial presentation aimed at selling the things, but I don't know exactly where or when. There must have been some pictures to go with the music - so there is also a Video for the Video Wall - probably edited by Mike and Peter at that time. Their work together culminated in The Wind Chimes instrumental and Islands videos released in 1988.
Listen for a guitar. About 48 minutes into the piece you can hear it spelling "Fuck off, RB", a farewell to Richard Branson of Virgin on one of the last releases from this record company.
B: _... C: _._. F: .._. K: _._ O: ___ R: ._. U:.._
Lesser known Morse codes: SOS at 15:09 and 23:18.
Or is it? It was reported there was "STAU STAU" or "STETU STETU" badly transmitted in pure CW (continuous Wave -> only one pitch) over a mandolin or some other similar instrument:
STAU: ... _._ .._ or STETU: ... - . - ..-
Perhaps this is the "SOS". Anyway the international signal SOS must be transmitted as only one letter: ...... and not as ... ...
Also another surprising thing is that the known "fuck off RB" is "transmitted" the way we learn Morse: We don't think in dots and dashes. We think in "dih" and "daaah". so "..- ." sounds like:
ti ti taaa ti...
To promote the album, there was a prize of £1000 for finding this hidden message. It was found by Roy Rashbrook from Swindon (although it was in fact a friend of his who discovered it), but he was unaware of the prize money due to Virgin's poor promotion. 9 years later, Roy sang on The Millennium Bell as a member of The London Handel Choir.
Credit: Maurice G. Lafleur, firstname.lastname@example.org, Morten Due Joergensen, email@example.com, Matthew J. Sorell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter Evans, email@example.com, David Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pedro, email@example.com, Roy Rashbrook, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just at the beginning, and at the end too, but it is on the cusp of hearing (it's a pendulum-type clock).
Another appearance of the ticking clock (only on the pre-release mix) was erased and replaced by a distant siren (around 1:00).
Yes. The title translates to 'The Murdered Young Girl' and is a film by Roger Vadim. The music is just parts of Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge.
You can find out more about this film and Mike's other film music at The Internet Movie Database:
I have a copy of the 1-sided white label test pressing with the catalogue number VS112. This is what Spanish Tune is supposed to be. The handwritten label says "Micha" which is crossed out with "Mike Oldfield Hergest Ridge" (There is another testpressing: the matrix number is also VS112 and handwritten on it is "Hergest Ridge Promo"). The 3 minute or so extract is from part 2.
Here is an extract from a Dark Star article by Paul Harris:
The name 'Spanish Tune' surfaces in the Mike Oldfield biography "10" (published 1983) in the discography section at the back. As "10" was one of the more professional outputs (i.e. 99.9% of the information was accurate) there was no reason to assume that the existence of Spanish Tune was in doubt. It does say "promotional release only" beside the name. The Spanish Tune release mentioned in the "10" book is dated prior to Hergest Ridge being released. This gives added weight to its promotional nature.
It also indicates that Mike and Tom Newman gave names to the sections of Hergest Ridge. We have the Martian Song (Thunderstorm), the Spanish Tune, and during the sessions a journalist reported a Chinese bit:
"The Chinese bit turns out to be a percussive and jerky foray around the flat and sharp black notes, which immediately evokes pictures of rickshaws and paper fans".
The following page, http://members.cox.net/surround/quaddisc/quadindx.htm, states that the quadrophonic mixes of Boxed are preserved on the CD.
The surround information is still on the Boxed CDs provided the SQ mix that was used. It is intertwined with the 2 channel mix like the standard Dolby Stereo matrix (i.e. pro logic). Mike's recordings are in SQ. The system doesn't disappear when it's transferred to the CD (I've done real tests with the Exposed CD). As SQ is stereo compatible there is no need to make a downmix to plain stereo just to play it on normal stereo amps. This SQ matrix mixes both surround channels into two normal channels using phase shifters, quite similar to Dolby Surround, just different speaker layout and different phase shifts.
Simon Heyworth said in an interview that quad versions on CD are still SQ encoded. No separate stereo masters were made. So if you have an SQ Amp, you could play the Boxed CDs and it should still work. This explains this strange phasing effect in the sound at the beginning of Ommadawn part 2. I bet there is sound running around when it is decoded.
Although the SQ matrix was put on the Boxed CD release, they added the note that "this CD is in stereo", probably for simple marketing reasons: customers might get confused and avoid buying it, because they just have a stereo player and a stereo amp. If they had written "SQ-encoded quad music" some people might think they can't play it.
This page, http://members.aol.com/stereoboy is about the Fosgate Tate II 101A SQ decoder, which is described as "the ultimate SQ decoder ever produced, and is still desperately sought after by Quadraphiles".
I have an old Philips amplifier with SQ matrix decoder and also an amplifier with DD and Dolby Surround decoder (prologic). After reading a lot, the conclusion is that the SQ decoder gives you 2 back channels from out of phase signals from both front channels. Dolby Surround gives you 1 back channel from the out of phase signals. The level of "out of phaseness" is different in the two systems.
For more information, see "Building Your Own Matrix Encoder" at http://hometown.aol.com/matrixquad/encode.htm.
Alternatively, http://avconvert.com/quad/ will convert quad to Dolby Digital or DTS. All that's required is $31.95 per album (they don't say they do CDs, but I guess they do), a Dolby Digital or DTS amp/decoder with digital input and a CD player/DVD player with digital output.
Quadrophonic recordings can be decoded by specially-written software. A simpler option is to play the recordings through a standard Dolby Surround amp. This would bring out a surround mix which I find more than acceptable - even if it is not the actual surround mix which Mike and Phil intended!. (The original quadrophonic mix of Tubular Bells is even more different than the Boxed one through a surround amp: whereas the Boxed mix is relatively subtle, the original quad is wild and bizarre in its sound field.) If you have a Dolby Surround Amp, play Ommadawn and switch OFF the centre speaker because SQ has a different speaker layout. You will have a great and new Ommadawn experience! For example, the AHHHHH voices are placed in the back, the guitar in the front. There is more separation of channels (front/back) in the Exposed CD when it's played on the SQ decoder than when it's done with the Dolby Surround.
Around the time of the TB 25th anniversary remaster there was an interview with Simon Heyworth in Dark Star, in which he said:
The quadrophonic Boxed mix of Tubular Bells is available as a four-channel mix on the SACD remaster released in 2001 (the multi-channel mix can only be heard on an SACD player).
Credit: Peter Prisekin, email@example.com, Cuds, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pedro, email@example.com, Tim Godden, firstname.lastname@example.org, David Porter, email@example.com, John P Connor, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcus Junglas, email@example.com.
When Incantations was first released on CD, longer (74-minute) CDs could be unstable, and so were rarely used. The beginning of Part 3 was edited down to 13.49 so that it would fit the shorter disc.
Thankfully, the technical problems were eventually overcome, so later CD issues of Incantations (including, of course, the HDCD remaster) contain the complete 16.59 version.
Pictures in the Dark appears on two official German compilation CDs: the single version is on Hit-Sensation (released 1986), and the Extended Version appears on EAMS Compilation Vol. 11 (released 1999), which is available from Amazon Germany (http://www.amazon.de) at:
Shine (single version) was issued on the German compilation CD Super Hit Sensation (Ariola, number 352 724-225), which was released in 1986. The Extended Version is not known to have appeared on any official CD.
More recently, Pictures in The Dark (single version) was included on The Mike Oldfield Collection, released in 2002 in some European countries. The single versions of both Shine and Pictures In The Dark are included on the Elements DVD, released in 2004.
Amarok was always intended to be a sequel of sorts to Ommadawn (although not in the direct linear manner of TB/TBII) so the obvious thing to do was to involve as many of the original participants as possible. William Murray, who co-wrote The Horse Song (aka On Horseback), wrote the short story "Cheer up, cloth ears..." for the Amarok booklet. Other names on both Ommadawn and Amarok are Clodagh Simonds, Bridget St John, Paddy Moloney and Julian Bahula.
Both Amadan and Amarok have the same first three letters: 'Ama'. This supports the idea that Amarok is actually Ommadawn 2.
In an interview Mike stated that he intended to make Ommadawn 2, but as the work progressed it gained "a life of its own" and became something different, and therefore got a different name.
The studio notes printed in the Amarok CD liner notes include titles for most of the passages on the album. As nearly as can be determined, here are those passages and where they start on the CD version. However, the times are too short, as the final piece is a full hour. And if you want to use these times: here are some further observations: The digits that appear in the leftmost column of the liner notes, among the section titles, will give the correct times if you add 2 minutes to each one. That makes some sense, as apparently the first part of the Amarok intro was added late in the production.
NB: The times in the second column seem to fit better (remember to add 2!). Where the name of section differs: this may be the right text. Where the section now has a name: this is possibly the name appearing on the vinyl cover.
And during the Intermission, the main voice in the right channel reads the section list aloud! You can clearly hear it begin with 'Fast riff intro'. It stops at 'intro waltz' and you can clearly hear 'scot didlybom mad bit russian' (Thus the 'n' in Run in' is probably a narrow 'ss'). I think there is more to this - at the end we hear "...troubles".
On the left channel you can hear "Not to be listened to by cloth eared nincompoops" repeated several times.
That leaves the centre of the stereo image. Does anyone know what is said? I humbly submit this nonsense:
Credits: Marcus Junglas, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lazlo Nibble, email@example.com, Goran Wallgren, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pete Nelson, email@example.com, Nicolas DELNATTE, firstname.lastname@example.org, Terry Robinson, email@example.com, Paul Mundy, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pablo Ayllón, email@example.com.
Mike has said that Amarok is "a very weird and wonderful, complicated thing to perform live. There would be eight guitars playing incredibly fast, and to be honest I wouldn't be able to find enough players who could play that quickly."
However, he has played the intro riff live on BBC Radio 5, and he played a section on TV-AM (this section is therefore given the name TV-AM. For other track titles, see 3.7) as part of Taurus 3.
That TV-AM performance was when Mike was promoting The Wind Chimes video, on 31st May 1988 (about 18 months before he started putting Amarok together), after which presenter Ann Diamond referred to Mike as a "walking orchestra". Also during that programme he tried to balance a twirling basketball on the end of his finger to emulate the other guest - Joyce Walker of the Globetrotters. He failed miserably.
There was a time when Mike would regularly turn up on early morning TV. In the period 1986 -1989 he did at least 3 promotional visits to TV-AM and one visit to the BBC to show off part of his guitar collection. He seems to have stayed clear of any early morning live stuff for the last 10 years. What a shame.
Thom Newman himself said, in an interview with David Porter: "It was part of a pathetically half-hearted attempt at reinventing oneself, I suppose. A bit of silly nonsense. One of the things that we seem to get good at when we're in each other's company."
From the Spanish biography 'Mike Oldfield' by Jose Cantos: He was going to sign as Michael Oldfield - an idea from Richard Branson for Tubular Bells so this would imply more respectability than the familiar Mike, at least with an unknown artist like him at this age.
There are some theories put forward by fans over the years:
Heaven's Open was an album which was done very quickly and cheaply to get out of the Virgin Records contract. Mike had long been unhappy with the way they treated him (See 3.10).
Amarok is Mike's 'goodbye' to Virgin and this is evident throughout:
After that Mike only had to write one single album to fulfill his contract and so he rushed out Heaven's Open (right at the end of Music From The Balcony there is a voice which clearly says "fuck off". It doesn't mention RB or anyone else, though.). He even sings his songs himself to make this quick and cheap. To separate this album from the others, "Michael Oldfield" is printed on the cover, Tom Newman is called "Thom", and even Virgin Records is spelled "Virgin Recordes".
But there might also be another reason. He might have used his full name for the same reason that he sang the songs with his own voice. Because he really felt those lyrics - in Gimme Back there is one lyric which literally says "I need my voice..." These songs are unashamedly autobiographical in nature and Mike could have realized that having another person's voice to sing them would be inappropriate. (In interviews, Mike's closest friends and family actually refer to him as "Michael".)
Interestingly, at the same time, Sally Oldfield released an album using her middle name, Natasha.
And according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the Archangel Michael holds the secret of the mighty word by the utterance of which God created the heaven and the earth.
Credit: David Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org and Tom Newman, Marcus Junglas, email@example.com, Morten Due Joergensen, firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul Hutchinson, email@example.com, John Bacsa, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jose Luis Gonzalez, JLuis@ThePentagon.com, Rob Miles, email@example.com, Gert-Jan Kramer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
They were twofold; firstly, Richard Branson signed Mike to a not-very-favourable contract (to deliver 13 studio albums, not including OTB, Boxed, Exposed, The Complete or even The Killing Fields) at a time when he was in no fit state to sign anything. Legend has it that the deal was done at Mike's kitchen table, and it would seem that no lawyers were consulted - but then, Mike saw Richard as his friend.
To be fair to Branson, I'm sure that he didn't deliberately do anything underhanded, but Mike eventually came to realize that he was locked into a contract that paid him a low royalty and from which Virgin refused to release him early. Money-wise he was a millionaire several times over, but had he been given a more realistic royalty rate, he'd have been a millionaire several more times over! He eventually sued Virgin for loss of earnings some time in the early 80s, which didn't help the relationship.
Allied to the contractual problem was the fact that as the 80s wore on, Virgin didn't seem to want to know about instrumental music unless it was called Tubular Bells. Mike felt forced into writing songs, but even when he did what he thought Virgin wanted they didn't seem to bother marketing the products properly. Perhaps understandably, he felt betrayed by Branson, although he's made some interestingly contradictory remarks about him since he finally left Virgin - in one interview he'll say that he "bears Richard no ill-will", and in another he'll rant on about how badly betrayed he was. One article stated that Mike thought that the best part of the HGP concert was watching RB get soaked in the rain :).
This is a typical Jimi Hendrix trick. A lot of people refer staring amazed at his hand as the pick suddenly appears (in the transition from Red Dawn to The Bell). This is not easy to do, but you can roll up the pick in your "i" finger while using "p, m & a" to play fingerstyle, then just flip the pick using your your thumb and indicator and tada! there you have a pick to play with. However, Mike appears to use the palm of his hand to hold the pick instead of the "i" finger.
"Palming" is a basic technique that magicians use to conceal objects (like coins) in their hands, it uses the skin on your palm, near the thumb to hold small object. It's not easy, although most magic books will tell you it is :). So, by pressing your thumb to the side of your hand you can hold objects in your palm. Try it.
You can play the audio portion of the CD in your PC, just as with any other audio CD. However, the interactive multimedia program (which includes seven QuickTime movies) was designed to run on the Mac OS (the system requirements are printed on the CD liner notes).
There are two versions of the TSODE multimedia program. The first, available on the original CD, is shorter. It has some clips like the ones with Mike talking in the Hibernaculum. The second version, on the 1995 reissue, has minor differences and the full-length Let There Be Light video.
The Mac application itself cannot be run on other platforms, but the video clips can be extracted and played on almost any operating system, or converted to another format.
For Windows users:
Otherwise, you may be able to access the data track on the CD and run Apple's QuickTime Convertor on the QuickTime files. The convertor will "flatten" the movies so that they will be playable on Windows machines (using QuickTime for Windows). You can download qtflat.exe from:
The files on the TSODE CD are called MV, H1, H2, H3 etc. H* are Hibernaculum files and so on. It is easy to guess the correct order. Just extract all the files and see it for yourself. I knew it because I saw the application on a Mac.
If you try to flatten a file from the reissue, and qtflat.exe says that "the resource fork file doesn't seem to be a proper QuickTime resource fork", then asks if you want to proceed, you've got them the wrong way around. You always need to put the .res file as the second file in the command line, i.e.:
qtflat.exe mo.mov mo.res result.mov
If you try to flatten the movie 'mv.mov' from the "new media" subfolder of the reissue, qtflat.exe tells you that "the movie seems to be flattened already" and asks if you want to proceed - always proceed when you get this error. And again, if you get the "resource fork file not a proper etc" error, make sure you've put the .res file as the second option.
It's also possible to export the CD and mount it as a network drive, for example, under Windows and play the videos with QuickTime Player. The latest version of QuickTime Player is available from: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download.
For Linux users:
mount -t hfs /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
(The interesting stuff is on /mnt/cdrom/Media.)
Next, download flatten.c from: ftp://xanim.va.pubnix.com/misc
Type in the usual commands:
cc -o flatten flatten.c
cd /mnt/cdrom/Media/New\ Media
This will allow the MV.qt file to be read using Xanim and QuickTime (the newest version of xanim is available from: http://xanim.va.pubnix.com/home.html).
For Mac users converting to other platforms:
ResEdit is not a tool for beginners, so here is an instruction manual:
Once the movie files are visible, you can use QuickTime Player to either flatten them or convert them to AVI format (this will require QuickTime Pro 3.0 or above).
Alternatively, the movies can be converted to MPEG with the freeware application Movie2MPEG, available from:
Another option is to convert the videos to animated gifs, making them viewable with web browsers on any platform. A shareware application called Smart Dubbing can convert QuickTime movies to animated gifs (payment is required if you want to include sound). It can be downloaded from:
Converted versions already available:
The videos have been converted into Windows Media format, and this version can be downloaded from:
More suggestions for viewing and converting the video clips can be found at:
Credit / further technical assistance: Gary Wingert, email@example.com, Jan Fricke, firstname.lastname@example.org, Angel Ezquerra, email@example.com, Jose Luis Gonzalez, JLuis@ThePentagon.com, Marcus Melchert, firstname.lastname@example.org, Robert Szucs, email@example.com, Pablo Ayllón, firstname.lastname@example.org, Luis Pinto, email@example.com.
The concert started at 21:00 with the extract of Tubular Bells. Then we had TBIII in full, and as encores we got:
Virgin own the rights to the tracks released during Mike's time on that label, so WEA could not include Tubular Bells, Moonlight Shadow or Family Man on the video.
Differences between the VHS and DVD versions:
Credit: Alex Reid, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apparently Clive Banks (Mike's manager in the early 1990s) said a proper rarities album was on the list of things to do, just not very high. Elements (the 4CD Box Set version) was going to be a rarities release.
The other problem is all the rare stuff is in Virgin's locker so WEA don't directly have access to it. WEA won't pay Virgin (see 3.13) and Virgin's stuff is old and they won't want to promote an artist they don't have (with the exception of The Best Of Tubular Bells, which was a collaboration between the two labels). Mike would have to convince WEA to cough up and release it, and Mike wants to look to the future, not the past.
Mike has power of veto over the release of all his old music, be it Virgin or WEA - remember, he had to approve the Elements tracklist even though it was a Virgin release and he was on WEA by then. And given his known embarrassment with many (most?) of his early rarities, I don't think we're very likely to see any action on this in the foreseeable future... but I guess anything's possible!
Tabs for guitar and bass are available from Tubular Web: http://www.tubular.net/tabs.
From a 1995 interview:
"Well, I've got two guitar sounds that I use, and it's a mixture of my technique and the processing. Most people play with a pick; you can't get a very clean sound because no matter how much you try and stop the other strings they're always ringing a bit and they interfere, but because I grew up with the folk technique of playing with my fingers I can always stop the strings that aren't being sounded, so I get a very clean sound."
"I use an old Roland GP-8 guitar processor - which you can't buy any more - because I'm used to the sound... the other guitar sound I use is a Stratocaster put through very heavy compression and gating. But it's basically down to the technique and the feeling I put into it."
The interview can be read at: http://tubular.net/articles/95_06.html.
* Breakfast in Bed was Richard Branson's idea, but Mike disliked it so much that he had to think of a better title. It got as far as the artwork stage (a modified version of which was used for Heaven's Open). However, Breakfast In Bed and Opus 1 may not be working titles as such, but names the album was given once completed.
** She Was She Was is the intended title, and the others were suggested to avoid confusion with the then current Talking Heads single And She Was.
*** The title Hypnotist was written on the setlist for the Then & Now concerts in 1999. It would be fair to assume this was the working title, as other tracks were also referred to by their working titles on the setlist.
Here is a list of Mike's cover versions, with the composers noted, where known. Although some tracks are credited as "Traditional", this is not always correct. The original composers of "traditional" pieces are noted here, where known.
As well as cover versions, Mike has quoted other tunes in his own work:
Credit: Olivier Lebra, email@example.com, Rob Miles, firstname.lastname@example.org, Drew Minasian, email@example.com, Jim F.Glass, firstname.lastname@example.org, David Porter, email@example.com, Calum Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lise Andreasen, email@example.com, Micheal Fitzgerald, Curtis Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcus Junglas, email@example.com, Paul Mundy, firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrea Kapavik, email@example.com and Stefan Koechling, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several are available from http://www.tubular.net/ringtones.
Credit: Olivier Lebra, email@example.com.
Probably the use of Ommadawn as the background music in an xxx-rated adult film. Approximately 10 minutes of Ommadawn were used in a pornographic film called "Pandora's Mirror", (see http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0082879) directed by Warren Evans in 1981.
Evans (real name Shaun Costello - see his IMDB listing: http://uk.imdb.com/name/nm0138010) was clearly a big fan of Ommadawn, as he also used the whole of Part 1 in his 1983 film "Hot Dreams". The scene involved two couples on a pleasure boat engaging in various forms of sex. It takes place outside, during the day, while they are cruising around Manhattan Island. The only thing you hear during the scene is Ommadawn since once the scene got going, all other sound was eliminated. The scene takes place at the end of the movie and ends exactly when Ommadawn ends. Here is the pertinent info:
TITLE: Hot Dreams
All the above info is necessary to distinguish it from any other movie which might have the same title. It's Internet Movie Database page can be found at: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0125168.
Ommadawn is a phonetic spelling of Amadan (with an accent or "Fada" over the last 'a', to give the long 'a' in the "aw" sound), the Irish/Gaelic word for "idiot" or "fool".
The amadan are Irish fairie fools. They should be avoided as, if touched by one, the victim will be paralysed down the side touched, possibly forever. Thus the amadan is sometimes called the stroke lad. He may strike whomever he fancies, but criminals and those who linger by fairie haunts under moonlight are especially vulnerable, and is particularly active during the month of June. The only protection against him is to call upon God. Amadan Mor and Amadan na Bruidne are the best known.
It was Clodagh Simonds who wrote the words she would chant on the album. Obviously she had to make up some words quickly and the first thing that came into her head was: "The cat is in the kitchen, drinking milk. I am the idiot singing."
When Mike saw or heard what she had sung he was curious about that word written as Ommadawn and then thought it would be a good name for the album. Its working title up until then was Pickles On My Glockenspiel - I bet you're glad he changed that! Anyway, Ommadawn, strictly speaking, has no meaning unless you know the truth behind the naming of the album. Mike divulged this to only a couple of journalists at the time - the rest of the time he said it was just a nonsense word - it was just one of his ideas to remain mysterious.
Also: nobody knows what Amadan means, so it was useful as a sort of "hidden message". This idea of hidden messages links to Amarok (see 4.5) and the Morse codes (see 2.18), and also the fairytale (idiot, nincompoop).
Credit: Matthew J. Sorell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Svend Aage Petersen, email@example.com, Matthieu Dhennin, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom English,email@example.com, David Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jose Luis Gonzalez, JLuis@ThePentagon.com, Chris Miller, email@example.com.
Maybe Mike was influenced by the murder of John Lennon, which might have found a way into the song, but it was not specifically written about it. Mike himself said he doesn't know exactly, it should be taken without a deep meaning. When Mike was interviewed for the mailing list (see http://tubular.net/articles/95_06.html), this question was asked too. He replied that the song was originally inspired by a very old film called 'Houdini', a Paramount picture filmed in 1953, directed by George Marshall with Tony Curtis in the title role. Additional information is available from:
Apparently, as a child Mike used to like stargazing in his back garden. One possibility is that the line "Saved by a bell" refers to Mike's career fortunes being turned around by the success of Tubular Bells. From that, we could infer that the "suffer in hell/but you were too blind to tell" couplet is a reference to the mental problems that his success exacerbated, and the fact that he was in a kind of denial about them until forced to confront them - and the fact that he did successfully confront them is covered by "But you made it through so well".
Another possibility: that Saved By A Bell is Mike having a rant at Richard Branson. Hearing it and reading the lyrics, it makes perfect sense. Particularly since the lyrics talk about constellations etc., but don't include Taurus (Mike's star-sign). Then of course the chorus is pretty overt: "Saved by a bell, suffer in hell"...
"Auf der Autobahn 2 von Hannover in Richtung Oberhausen". It continues with "... zwischen Autobahnkreuz", followed by a few words drowned out by the music. These German words mean something like "On highway 2 from Hannover going to Oberhausen".
It's from a news report about an incident which started as an "ordinary" bank holdup with taking of hostages in Gladbek (which is in the Ruhr area in Germany) and ended up with the death of a hostage, a young girl named Silke Bischoff, several days later. Silke was shot by one of the two hostage-takers in the getaway car while the police tried to free her. The German media made a kind of Saturday evening entertainment show of the event; they did interviews with the gangsters while they were sitting in their getaway car, pressing a pistol against Silke's temple. The police had several opportunities to end the drama, but they couldn't because wherever the gangsters appeared, they were surrounded by a bunch of cameramen and reporters. The connection to the quote in Hostage is that the gangsters drove from Gladbek to Oberhausen, to Bremen, even to the Netherlands.
Amarok is a phonetic spelling of Amarach (again with a fada over the second 'a' to extend the 'aww' sound) meaning "tomorrow" in Irish/Gaelic according to Sean Moraghan's book. I have also seen it defined as "morning" or "genius" but these just don't seem to fit Irish Gaelic words (although "morrow" is an old English word for "morning").
Mike himself simply says it's just a nonsense word but it could mean "I am a rock" referring to his staying power. I think this is a load of rubbish - Mike probably just didn't want to answer the question. In another interview Mike said that he heard the word in a television programme from the North about wolves, and liked both the sound and the meaning of it.
Amaroq also means wolf in Inuktitut (the language of the Inuit people). It's been spelled amarok, amorak, amrak, to name a few, and amaroq (today's spelling). That's because Inuktitut was transcribed phonetically 100 years ago. Regional differences in pronunciation account for the differences in spelling. The Inuit and the Eskimo are the same people, but "Eskimo" is not the preferred name. You can read more about why over at the Alaska Native Language Center's website, located at http://www.uaf.edu/anlc/inuitoreskimo.html. Interestingly, the site mentions that "Eskimo" may derive from an Ojibwa (Anishinaabemowin) word meaning "to net snowshoes" (usually you will hear it means "eaters of raw meat"). Anishinaabemowin is the language "quoted" in Hiawatha, and thus, in Incantations Part II.
In Nordic mythology, Amarok is a giant wolf. He stands over 6 feet tall (2 metres) while on all fours and he can hold a buck off of the ground in his mouth.
You'll find further discussion, and some potentially useful information here:
Credit: Matthew J. Sorell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Svend Aage Petersen, email@example.com, Matthieu Dhennin, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom English,email@example.com, David Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jose Luis Gonzalez, JLuis@ThePentagon.com, Chris Miller, email@example.com, Mary-Carol Lindbloom, firstname.lastname@example.org, The Mad Hatter, Hatter@hub.ofthe.net, Richard Carter, email@example.com, Jan Mazurek, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an interview, Mike said: "The voices on Amarok sound like tones, but most are lyrics sung in Zulu - I wrote them myself, with the help of someone who can speak Zulu!". This translation was done with the aid of Xhosa dictionaries (it does not really matter whether it is in Xhosa or Zulu, as these two are so closely related). The danger in translating from the album itself lies in that one could accidentally miss something during playback.
Herewith the lyrics as they appear on the album:
Sondela uSomandla sukuma wena obengezela
It is broken up as follows in the song:
And here is the translation:
Once again, in Western grammar this does not make sense and the sentence must be modified, but without it losing its original meaning.
We can readily accept that the Almighty refers to God and not one of their traditional gods (many Blacks in South Africa are devoted Christians). So, here goes...
"Come closer, God. You who glitter (because of the Light that shines from You) must stand up (and be seen by us mortals)."
I do not think that anybody will take me on about this translation. If 'obengezela' is not the word, the other possibilities (translated) should be: "who needs Him" or: "turn to Him". But I am pretty sure of my case!
Do not ask me what the choir members are talking about before they start singing the epilogue - the sound of the drums and other instruments nearly completely filter these conversations out. But from the little I can make out it sounds as if they are just making "small talk" in between. I recognise a part where it sounds as if one of the members is refering to iBhayi. This is Xhosa for Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa's important harbour cities, situated in the Eastern Cape, about 800km (500 miles) from Cape Town, along the Indian Ocean. Now the Eastern Cape is traditionally Xhosa country, where you will find some of the "southern clans".
You will notice that in no Western language (well, at least not in the Germanic ones such as English and German) can one use a single word, Sondela, and put a melody to it. Put a melody to "Come closer". It will sound stupid, won't it? Or to uSomandla. But in the Black languages (anywhere in Africa?) this is well possible.
In Xhosa we find a traditional lullaby: Tula, Sana - composed in a beautiful, calm melody. Now you try to sing: "(Be) Quiet, Child" in such a way that it will put your child to sleep! Can't be done - not in English!
Is Xhosa/Zulu not a beautiful, musical language?
Let's start with the credits in the TSODE booklet, and add to that.
Some of the Vocalists: The Tallis Scholars sing the Gregorian chant on Hibernaculum. The lyrics are invented words that sound Latin.
The astronaut heard during In The Beginning is Bill Anders on the Apollo 8 quoting The Book Of Genesis whilst orbiting the Moon, Christmas 1968. His fellow astronauts were James Lovell and Frank Borman.
The "Only Time Will Tell" sample is from a voice over on the 1960s American television series Lost In Space. The ship's engines can clearly be heard in the background of the sample.
Saami chant - (Ofelas-theme) composed and performed by Nils-Aslak Valkeapaa (the last 2 'a's should have umlauts over them), for Ofelas (Pathfinder) Film. This song is in the genre Sami Joik (pronounced and maybe spelled Yoik). The man himself: The "Prayer For The Earth" is a recording of a song they sing in Lapland.
Vahine Taihara - Tubuai Choir. "A New Beginning" is the Tubuai choir (from an island in French Polynesia). The singer would be a woman, possibly younger, possibly older.
The Latin lyrics in "Let There Be Light": Dominus mundus salvus. (Note: This translation may not be entirely correct, and there is especially some doubt over the third word.)
Using the web site http://lysy2.archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/words.exe:
domin.us N 2 1 NOM S M P
mund.us N 2 1 NOM S M T
salv.us ADJ 1 1 NOM S M POS
Credit: Svend Aage Petersen, email@example.com, Rory Ewins, firstname.lastname@example.org, Harald Hougaard, email@example.com, Erkki Ruohtula, firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul Mundy, email@example.com, Chris Kimber, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mike Oldfield in different interviews, and Brandon Blume in Tubular Forums: http://tubular.net/forums/Forum34/HTML/000012.html.
The lyrics are in Hindi (the language of the Hindu religion) and are as follows:
Mushikhil Badi Tu hai Kaha
Mushikhil Badi = There is a lot of trouble
They can be heard on the album at these points:
Credit: Lee Whitehead, email@example.com,
The Millennium Bell booklet says: "Pacha Mama is centered around lyrics a guide gave him which are in an ancient Inca language that some locals still converse in."
Sounds like general tourist claptrap to me. Guides will say anything to hold your interest. The only thing closest to any "ancient Inka language" (which is an oxymoron, being that the Inka can hardly be considered "ancient") is Cusco Quechua, badly tainted by Spanish. I was always struck by "translations" and other explanations offered by tour guides...
Huaca Pacha Mama (The Sacred Site of Mother Earth)
Well..one might argue it *could* be translated this way, but in general usage terms, "waka" is a noun, not really an adjective, and I've never read an archaic text that uses it that way, but you certainly can. Poetic license... after all... the best way to settle the argument would be to locate the original text in the archives. Good luck on that!
Particularly disturbing is "Waka Saksaywaman". There is nothing at all in any of that referring to a "stone citadel" (saqsaywaman wasn't a 'citadel' at all, in fact). Saksaywaman is, literally translated, a mottled or speckled hawk. There are arguments suggesting that it is indeed planned out into the figure of some kind of a bird, but truthfully, I always had trouble seeing that. There is an awful lot of "new age" speculation in this stuff! Personally, I tend to believe that since it's on a cliff overlooking the city, it was probably historically a breeding ground for scavengers that kept the streets clean, hence the name...
It seems the less "mutually translatable" languages are the more gets read into them. Mix in a dollop of the arts and, of course, the rules are suspended! There's not much to quarrel about though, the Pacha Mama lyrics keep their artistic sense, beauty and aesthetic character no matter which translation one chooses.
More comments on the translation can be found at:
Credit: Charles Wolff, Mary-Carol Lindbloom, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Xhosa/Zulu refrain in Amber Light plays a very important role in highlighting the true meaning of this track.
Ekuseni(-e) is derived from the adverb kusasa, which means: "early in the morning / daybreak". Therefore ekuseni(-e) means "at daybreak" (in both Xhosa & Zulu). Yeah, I know it sounds stupid, but Xhosa/Zulu is a very descriptive language.
Khanya is a verb which means: "shine / to be bright/" or even closer: "beam forth / emanate / emit / radiate light".
Kuya is actually part of the verb khanya and fulfils the role of auxiliary verb. Roughly translated it means "will".
Let us review the sentence. Ekuseni(-e) kuya k(h)anya literally means: "At daybreak will light shine / emanate / beam forth". If one reconstructs this sentence according to western grammar rules, it should look something like: "The light will shine (I like "radiate" more) at daybreak."
Do you sense a deeper meaning in this sentence? It is the Xhosa/Zulu way of expressing a message of hope at the end of a dark (sombre) period. The light WILL SHINE at the end of the night - there will be hope. It blends in perfectly with Sunlight Shining Through Cloud and gives a new meaning to the noun "amberlight".
Try http://www.allmusic.com and type "Oldfield, Mike" in the field for major artists. This will give you a bio and a discography. Choose the record you want to know more about. All the artists will be listed, and then you can choose to see the bio, a discography and so on for that artist.
Credit: Svend Aage Petersen, email@example.com.
It is Vanessa Branson, sister of Richard. Recorded at the Manor in early 1973. Tom Newman produced it, so he should know. It sounds nothing like Bridget St John - the liner notes on Swollowed Up By A Big Fat Snake are wrong.
Les Penning once recalled seeing Herbie sobbing into his beer at a Kington pub after having his work removed from Ommadawn. This would indicate that Paddy Moloney's part replaced something that Herbie did. I think Herbie was a local musician, like Les, but I'm not sure.
Herbie was a member of Yellow Dog, a Virgin signing in 1977. It was a duo formed by Irish musician Herbie Armstrong and Brill Building tunesmith Kenny Young - the latter being the writer of some The Drifters themes. The twosome were previously linked with singer Noosha Fox to form Fox, and provided the UK charts with three top 20 hits during 1975-76. As Yellow Dog they didn't do badly.
Herbie has since appeared on numerous Van Morrison projects, but Young has disappeared from sight.
Although it sounds like Terry Jones it is in actual fact John Gorman of Scaffold fame. The connection is that Mike appeared on Tiswas (probably the best ever Saturday kids' show) the day before the concert and John Gorman was a regular on that show. This was on the 5th May 1979 and the Birmingham concert was on the 6th. So Airborn has the only released recording of a part of that Birmingham NEC concert (not on Exposed).
If you look inside the gatefold cover of Exposed - at the picture just above the words "Extract from Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow" - you will see John Gorman and his megaphone.
The easiest is to identify the different musicians by what instrument they are playing. If several musicians play the same instrument, they can be identified by the colour of their outfit.
Mike Oldfield (guitars, green outfit, black t-shirt)
Maggie Reilly (vocals, green outfit)
Benoit Moerlen (drums/percussion, purple outfit with silly "hat")
Tim Cross (keyboards, beige outfit)
Hansford Rowe (bass)
Credit: Svend Aage Petersen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The film is called 'Young and Innocent', and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The scene is at the end of the movie. The two young protagonists have been framed for some crime and are on the run from the police. Their only hope is to find the real criminal who is currently playing the drums in a black and white minstrel band in a restaurant. When the villain sees the police looking for the two heroes, he thinks they are looking for him and this triggers a ridiculous nervous facial twitch - which he knows is the only thing that will give him away. It is therefore imperative that he turn his back on them. This he accomplishes by improvising a xylophone break during the number the band are playing. It's not very good and at the end the band leader comes up to him and says, "Don't come in again like that, it isn't funny and I pay someone else to make the orchestration."
Mike often records multiple versions of songs with different vocalists, and chooses the best one. Fish sang on a version of Far Country, but in the end Mike decided to use Mark Williamson's interpretation.
Credit: Ralf Erhard, Orabidoo@allgaeu.org.
It's Janet Brown, a famous English comic that imitates Margaret Thatcher.
Credit: Matthieu Dhennin, email@example.com.
Mike and Anita split up in 1991 and she moved back to Norway. In Autumn 1996 she talked to a Norwegian magazine about her relationship with Mike. She was complaining that she felt trapped and like a queen in a huge castle. And all that travelling she and Mike did, going to all those exotic jungles and places didn't help. She was also stalked by an unknown man who followed her by car and made threats over the phone.
She released a not very exciting solo album after that. In April 1997, she was in a show together with a whole lot of other big Norwegian actors and comedians, both acting and singing on stage.
She and Mike are good friends, and their two children often visited Mike in Ibiza - Greta also provided the voice over for Liberation on The Millennium Bell. Anita is doing well and is making a pretty good income in her career. She is also working on a new solo album.
In 1998, she worked on a show at the new stage at the SAS-hotel in Oslo (opening night was 23 September). The show was called "Candle in the Wind", and was a tribute show for Elton John. They are going to perform solely Elton John songs and Anita was very excited about the project. She said it was going to be like singing for her daughter at home. There are 4-6 other singers involved in the show.
In May 2000, Anita Hegerland sang Moonlight Shadow on a Norwegian tv show called "Da Capo" (recorded in February). The host talked very briefly about Mike Oldfield, Maggie Reilly and Mike & Anita's "marriage" (they were engaged, but never married) before introducing her.
Anita was interviewed more recently by Amarok member Elf, in January 2005. The interview can be found at: http://www.elfworld.org/bronze/vis_dag.php?id=300.
It's the actor Alan Rickman. A list of his credits can be found at the Internet Movie Database:
Credit, in alphabetical order: Chris Dewey, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kenneth Doolin, email@example.com, Paul Edwards, firstname.lastname@example.org, Rory Ewins, email@example.com, Derek Kidd, Telekidd@aol.com, Lazlo Nibble, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pedro, email@example.com, Gareth Randall, Gareth_Randall@itv.co.uk, Matthew J. Sorell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Troy, Patrick Wigfull, email@example.com.
Here are a few suggestions for online shopping:
The Mike Oldfield Information Service has a web shop that seems to have all the ordinary releases, and is located at: http://www.mikeoldfield.org.
Dark Star subscribers are entitled to a 5% discount on Mike Oldfield rarities and oldies when quoting their subscriber code at Esprit Mail Order (highly recommended!): http://www.eil.com.
There is a trading section at http://www.oldfield.nl.
Gemm (http://gemm.com) can search several stores at once (including ones that sell used records), and present you with all the prices, so you can choose the best offer.
For those in North America there is a Canadian outlet called A & B Sound, (http://www.absound.ca), which carries all of the officially released material. They seem to get new material about 4 to 5 days after it is released overseas. They are very easy to deal with and, due to the exchange rate of US dollars to Canadian dollars, their prices are much lower than you will ever find in the US.
Here are some of the books that have been published over the years (all now out of print):
- The Making of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells by Richard Newman (Music Maker Books Ltd, 1993)
A more complete listing of Mike Oldfield books (including sheet music) can be found at: http://www.tubular.net/books.
There are also several books about Richard Branson, which of course feature some information about Mike:
- Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson (Random House, 1998)
Note: There is a book by Mike Oldfield called Born In The UK, but this Mike Oldfield is a music journalist. He has written other books, including one about Bruce Springsteen, and he has also written for the New Musical Express (a very anti-Mike newspaper).
Annie Nightingale is a BBC Radio presenter, who was a a friend of Mike's (and was one of the the people who advised him to sign with Clive Banks). Around 1992, Annie suggested to Mike that his life story would make a good read, so he asked her to write it. Annie made hours of interview cassettes with Mike talking about his life in, as she put it, "extremely graphic detail" - apparently Mike says things about his parents that she could hardly believe. She wrote some sample chapters, and found a publisher willing to take the project on.
Unfortunately, CBL asked for an advance that was considered "unreasonably large" - the publisher's argument being that even though Mike Oldfield's biography was not likely to be a long-term bestseller, they had to make some kind of profit on it, and CBL's terms would have destroyed their chance of profitability. They tried to reach a compromise, but CBL stuck to their demand, the publisher pulled out, and the project fell into limbo.
However, as far as I know she still owns all the interview cassettes and I think she'd probably get first refusal should the project ever be resurrected (which surely has to be an option now that CBL is out of the equation).
MO stands for Mike Oldfield, of course. Here are some title abbreviations (some more common than others):
You can send email to The Mike Oldfield Information Service at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Mike Oldfield Information Service cannot make contact details available for Mike, his PA, or management, but can forward correspondence directly to them.
Mailing address: The Mike Oldfield Information Service, PO BOX 2031, BLANDFORD. DT11 9YB. ENGLAND
It's often discussed, but nobody has ever found the answer. Some popular theories from the past are: there are few women on the internet (no longer true), the mailing list is technical and women are not (women can be just as technical as men), and women like MO in another way (there are those who not only love his music, but also find him easy on the eyes).
247 weeks in the charts originally, and 13 weeks in the top ten. However it re-entered a few times, especially after TBII was released. This info also contradicts the claim of being number 1 for over a year.
According to the Guinness book of hit albums (5th edition) -
On the 1997 album Velvet Rope, Janet Jackson gives credit to MO, mentioning TB for the title track, and you should be able to hear TB in the background.
Credit: Elf, email@example.com.
Mike lived nearby after the success of Tubular Bells and used to fly model gliders from the ridge - the quiet countryside helped him to cope with his success. Hergest Ridge is also mentioned in "On Horseback" at the end of Ommadawn:
"So if you feel a little glum
Hergest Ridge is on the border of Wales and Herefordshire in England. Since it's easy so end up on the wrong hill, it is suggested that you get a copy of OS Pathfinder 993 (Kington) which reveals all in great detail. Hergest Ridge lies to the immediate west of Kington, which is in turn about 15 miles north-west of Hereford. Offa's Dyke path runs west out of Kington (extension of Ridgebourne Road) and goes over the top of HR (400+ metres) turning south-west as it does so (about 4 miles in total). It can be difficult to identify the Ridge from below as it rises slowly from the south-east side and is masked by two other hills to the north-west. The map suggests that your best bet may be to look south from the A44 about one mile west of Kington. Don't carry on as far as Stanner (B4594 junction) which is two miles west of Kington. The best views are probably to be found at the top. It is possible to park cars at the foot of Hergest Ridge.
The Beacon, where Mike recorded Ommadawn, later became a guest house. They bought the place off Mike in 1976 and he left the piano there as it was too difficult to move back down the hill (the piano is now long gone). You could sleep where the studio and mixing desk were situated - a memorable experience. The Beacon stopped operating as a boarding house several years ago, but has recently reopened - The Beacon's website can be found at: http://www.thetopbeacon.co.uk/index.html.
HOW TO FIND THE BEACON: If you come from Worcester on the A44 you will encounter the Kington bypass with two roundabouts to the east of the town. There is a minor road (B4355) to Presteigne off the second roundabout and an almost immediate left turn up to Bradnor Hill and the golf course. Up the steep hill you will find The Beacon - it is a black and white building.
LOCAL PLACES OF INTEREST: Penrhos Court on the main A44 towards Lyonshall and Shobdon Airfield, where Mike started his flying lessons. The view from Bradnor Hill golf course is even better than from Hergest Ridge. You really need 2 days to explore the area and walk on both hills - Mike was there for 2 years. Kington is only a small place, so everything is within walking distance. The only thing you have to worry about is getting up that hill, but even that is just a gentle stroll which takes half an hour or so.
WHERE TO STAY: For accommodation information, go to: http://www.smoothhound.co.uk/kington.html. There are dozens of B&B places in Kington, including many of the pubs - of which there would appear to be more of per acre than anywhere in the world! Or, if you've got money, you could stay at Penhros - it's close by, and has lots of historical associations.
The Burton Hotel is expensive. As for Penhros Court, it's the next best thing to The Beacon:
Contact information for some local hotels:
The Burton Hotel - Mill Street, Kington, HR5 3BQ
The Talbot Hotel - Bridge Street, Kington
Penrhos Court Hotel - Kington
There are also some other small B&Bs listed at:
http://www.kington.org.uk is worth a visit as it contains a lot of other information about Kington and its surroundings.
Credit: Matthew J. Sorell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Ian Chapman, email@example.com, David Porter, firstname.lastname@example.org, Rob Miles, email@example.com, Paul Hutchinson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photos on the Incantations cover show two very different looking Mike Oldfields. On the front cover his hair is darker and styled very differently from the inside photo.
The beach on the front cover is Cala Pregonda, which is in Menorca (a nice photo, with some familiar rocks can be found at: http://www.137.org/k/Menorca/Cala_Pregonda/10_houses_clear_water.JPG).
For those unsure where Menorca is, it's the most northern of the 3 major islands in the Balearic Islands group off the coast of Spain in the Mediteranean Sea. The other two islands are Ibiza to the south (where Mike lived in the mid-1990s), and the largest of the group Mallorca/Majorca is in the middle (where Kevin Ayers has lived for much of the last 25 years or so).
I'm pretty sure the photo inside the gatefold was taken at Througham. Comparing it with several that are found in the Elements booklet, it is from the same photo session - probably done by Trevor Key. As for dates, I can only hazard a guess. They both have to be between about June and November 1978 (the period he had his haircut to the LP release). The inside one is more Summer-looking whilst the beach photo has a hint of Autumn with the layers of clothing Mike has to wear.
In 1994, an asteroid (minor planet) was named after Mike Oldfield. Mike explained, "Somebody in the States discovered 3 asteroids and he was a bit of a music fan, and I think Mick Jagger got one, I got one, and David Bowie got one." (From the interview at: http://tubular.net/articles/98_09.html)
The name 5656 Oldfield was assigned in April 1994, having been proposed some two months earlier. TSODE therefore would therefore have no connection with naming the asteroid after Mike.
More information about the asteroid can be found at:
Minor planets are the natural space-junk of the solar system. Most, including 5656 Oldfield, reside in the asteroid belt, but some are Earth crossers (the Apollo asteroids) and some reside in the Lagrange points in the orbits of the planets; e.g., the Trojan asteroids which orbit in Jupiter's orbit. A Lagrange point is either 60 degrees preceding or 60 degrees following the planet as the planet revolves around the Sun. It is the place where the gravity of the planet and of the Sun are equal.
Minor planets are usually discovered on photographic plates, or more recently by satellites, such as IRAS, which detect objects in the infrared. Today, when these objects are discovered they first given numbers. Afterwards, a common name may be submitted to the IAU (International Astronomical Union) by the discoverer, or by someone else, but it has to be approved by a vote from an IAU committee recommendation. Number 5656 Oldfield was approved in this way. Presently, there are over 16,000 listed (named) asteroids and well over 20,000 asteroids are known. New minor planets (Asteroids) are discovered every day!
Credit: Greg Bohémier, email@example.com, Kerick, firstname.lastname@example.org, Morten Due Joergensen, email@example.com, Gareth V. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org, Matthew Cochrane, email@example.com.
This version of the Amarok FAQ was compiled by Stephen Byrne.
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