Rare Tracks Part 1

A guide to Mike's unreleased recordings, in two parts: 1967-85 and 1987-present.

Further information:

Phil Beer's website

Part 2: 1987-present


Film Music




Demos with Mick Jagger
Mike has said that the first time he was in a recording studio was when he and his sister Sally recorded some demos with Mick Jagger. Sally has denied that this took place, however, so it is unknown whether these recordings exist.


Tubular Bells (demo version)
While Mike was a member of Kevin Ayers And The Whole World, he borrowed Kevin's Bang & Olufsen Beocord tape recorder, and recorded demos of some pieces of music he had composed, and this eventually became Tubular Bells. On this version, the opening piano sequence was played on a Farfisa organ.

A part of Tubular Bells was incorporated into a live version of Why Are We Sleeping? performed in 1972 with Kevin Ayers And The Whole World (see Too Old To Die Young), no doubt as a result of Kevin hearing the demo. This would become the last section of Tubular Bells Part Two, before the Sailors Hornpipe.

Another part of the demo involved a vacuum cleaner, which Tom Newman described in the book The Making Of Tubular Bells:

"There was a little theme that Michael did that had, as a backing track, a domestic Hoover. He had a Hoover at his house in Harold Hill and he did this thing with it and played this strange suspended minor seventh chord; a really lovely sound, like a drone. It was this hoover making the sound and it was like a bagpipe drone. It was a really lovely little tune that was meandering and plaintive and it made my heart burst. It was beautiful and I just wanted to be part of it. I can't explain what I mean, it was so beautiful. It was like a Pied Piper of Hamelin situation: if Michael had gone off with this tape and said, 'Follow me', I'd have followed him to the end of the Earth. I'd never heard anything like it before in my life".

Mike incorporated some of the discarded sections into later compositions, such as Amarok. Tom Newman claims that the hoover piece mentioned above became the 'Hoover' section of Amarok (see 3.7 in the FAQ for tracklisting), although Mike denies this.

Extracts from the demo can be heard on the DVD-Audio version of Tubular Bells 2003.

Tubular Bells (early mix)
The first mixed master of the album was completely instrumental. Mike added the Piltdown Man vocals because of record company pressure to have vocals on the album.


Hergest Ridge (unused sections)
A promo single was issued with the name Spanish Tune, although it is in fact a 3-minute extract from Hergest Ridge. It is not known if a track called Spanish Tune was actually recorded. It may simply have been the name of one of the tunes on the album.

The March 16, 1974 issue of Melody Maker describes the (presumably unused) Chinese section as "a percussive and jerky foray around the flat and sharp black notes, which immediately evokes pictures of rickshaws and paper fans".

The Orchestral Hergest Ridge
Like The Orchestral Tubular Bells before it, this was arranged and conducted by David Bedford. The BBC recorded the premiere, performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Steve Hillage (a member of the Kevin Ayers band) on guitar, on December 9th 1974. This was broadcast on television in early 1975.

A performance by the Scottish National Orchestra at the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow on May 5th 1976 (also featuring Hillage) was recorded by Radio Clyde. Virgin purchased the rights to this recording, with the intention of releasing it.

The album was never released, possibly for several reasons. The Orchestral Tubular Bells was not a commercial success, and Mike is absent from all recordings of the Orchestral Hergest Ridge. Watching the television broadcast of the 1974 performance, Mike laughed at Steve Hillage's playing, and so he may have vetoed its release for this reason.

Parts of the Glasgow recording were used on the soundtrack of The Space Movie (see Film Music). A Space Movie soundtrack album was compiled, but this, too, was shelved.


Ask Me No Questions
A Bridget St John song which Mike covered, again with Bridget singing.


Reflection (soundtrack)
Reflection, made for the UK Arts Council, was the first film to feature specially-composed music by Mike. Covering themes from his earlier albums Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn, it also included several pieces that would be released later, including Incantations, The Path (the B-side of Shine in 1986), Woodhenge (on Platinum, and the B-side of Blue Peter) and a song called Making Way (which was incorporated into Incantations Part Four, albeit without the vocals), along with other incidental music cues.

Vivaldi compositions
Mike recorded several Vivaldi pieces, all of which remain unreleased, except the Concerto in C, which, after being considered for inclusion on Impressions, eventually appeared on the box set Elements: 1973-1991.


Incantations (unused section)
There is an out-take from Incantations Part Four (the piece that developed from Making Way - see Reflection, above) featuring vocals not present on the final record, with lyrics taken from A Spell For Creation by Kathleen Raine. This out-take was included on the soundtrack of The Space Movie (see Film Music). The track as heard in the film has been edited, so the following lines are absent:
Oh love, my love, there springs a world
And on the world there shines a sun
And in the sun there burns a fire
Within the fire consumes my heart...

Incantations (quadrophonic mix)
The album was originally conceived and recorded in Quadrophonic sound, and a mix of the album in this format was prepared. As the quadrophonic format had gone out of fashion by 1978, a stereo mix was made by Philip Newell. The original quadrophonic mix still exists, however.

Sit You Down,
Passed You By

Mike recorded these two tracks with Phil Beer (a guitarist on his Exposed tour). Both of these appeared on the 1986 charity album Where Would You Rather Be Tonight?. Sit You Down is also available on Phil Beer's Official Bootleg Volume 1, available exclusively from his website.

The Redesdale Hornpipe or The Boys Of Bluehill,
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
While Lea Nicholson was recording his album The Concertina Record, Mike joined him for these tracks (Lea can't remember if The Redesdale Hornpipe was recorded, or if it was The Boys Of Bluehill), and Kopya. Kopya was the only one that seemed worth releasing, so it was included on the album. Lea no longer holds the tape with the other tracks.


Tubular Bells (remake)
When in New York to record Platinum, Mike recorded a disco arrangement of Tubular Bells which was never released. This probably came from the same session that produced Guilty.

North Star (Mike's choral arrangement)
Mike arranged the choir for Part 4 of Platinum, but the recording did not meet with Virgin's approval, and so a rearrangement by David Bedford appears on the album instead.

All Right Now
This is a cover version of the 1970 Free song, recorded during the Platinum sessions and used as the theme for a television music programme also called All Right Now. The vocals are by Wendy Roberts, while Pierre Moerlen and Tom Newman also contributed.

Blue Peter (broadcast version)
Mike recorded the theme music (a traditional tune also known as "Barnacle Bill") for the BBC series Blue Peter. While recording it, Mike was interviewed for the programme, with the presenter Simon Groom contributing the opening drum roll, and the crew playing sleigh bells. This version - which opened and closed the programme until 1989 - was never issued.


Journey Of The Sorceror (Theme from The Hitch-Hikers' Guide To The Galaxy)
This instrumental, written by Bernie Leadon for the Eagles album One Of These Nights, was used as the theme music for the BBC radio series The Hitch-Hikers' Guide To The Galaxy. When the series was remade for a double LP release in 1980, Tim Souster's re-recorded version of the theme was used in place of the Eagles version. According to Paddy Kingsland (who wrote the incidental music for the series), Mike was asked to re-record this theme for the 1981 television version. Mike's version, if it was recorded, was not used (the BBC simply reused the Souster recording).

I'm Bored
This was a song by the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, which in the early 1980s Mike (perhaps jokingly) said he was going to record. It is not known whether he did or not.


The Royal Wedding Anthem
Mike was asked to compose a piece of music to mark the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer (although Mike admitted that he had composed the piece several months before, and hadn't yet found a use for it). A studio version of the track was played on British radio prior to the wedding. The anthem was performed on July 28th - the day of the wedding - at the Guildhall Yard in London, and some of this performance was broadcast on British television.

Five Miles Out (other versions)
Mike originally recorded this track in several different arrangements with Maggie Reilly on vocals, one of them in a romantic 1930s style. This is possibly the version that was omitted from the Elements 4-CD set.


Crises (unused sections)
Mike has mentioned that some recorded parts of Crises were removed in the final edit.

Midnight Passion
This was recorded with Hazel O'Connor on vocals, before some changes were made to the lyrics and it became Moonlight Shadow.

Man In The Rain [1]
Shortly after Moonlight Shadow, Mike wrote a similar song, and made several unsatisfactory attempts to record it over the years. The finished version (which sampled Moonlight Shadow's drum track) appeared on Tubular Bells III.


China (and others)
A photograph of Simon Phillips' handwritten notes on the Discovery album sleeve indicates that there are several unreleased tracks from these sessions. The notes are not entirely legible, but include: China, xxx The Snow (or possibly Sword), xxx Thing, and xxx Heart.

Killing Fields (unused sequences)
Mike is believed to have recorded more than 4 hours of music for this film. Several short pieces of incidental music excluded from the album appear in the film.

In The Pool
There were two earlier vocal versions of this track, one with Barry Palmer, the other with Maggie Reilly (the released version is instrumental).


Sutton Hoo
Mike wrote the theme music for this British television documentary about archaeology.

Part 2: 1987-present


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