1978 Short Hair and Sports Jacket

Not many people could imagine the difference in appearance that greeted them when, towards the end of the year, Mike appeared to launch his latest studio LP. Gone was the long hair and unshaven appearance, to be replaced by short hair, sports jackets and even a willingness to talk with the media. The reason for this dramatic change came to light when it was revealed that in June of the year, Mike had attended a course designed to improve self confidence. This unique training, called Erhardt Seminar Training (or Exegesis), consisted of a four day course which tried to eliminate all the problems and hang-ups that the patient had. In Mike’s own words some years later, he described it like being taken back to the point of birth to start again. It was this point that Mike felt had shaped the most part of his life and this course allowed him to start again without the fear that childbirth in the fifties had brought upon him. Both physically and in a certain way musically, the difference that this training had on Mike was visible for all to see. One of the most astonishing things to occur on the back of this treatment was his short lived two week marriage, in Kensington, to Diana Fuller, the daughter of the Exegesis teacher!

As a new man, Mike launched, on the 24th November, his 4th studio and first double LP titled Incantations. Utilising pieces of Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” and Ben Jonson’s “Hymn to Diana”, plus the talents of African drum group Jabula, Pierre Moerlen, David Bedford and also brother and sister Terry and Sally. Incantations was a album of epic proportions that went platinum before it was even available in the shops, although it eventually only reached No 14 in the UK album charts. The mixed response from the critics came as no real surprise considering the length of the piece. For collectors, early versions are available of the LP with an alternative take of Hiawatha at the end of side 2.   The Christmas period brought two new releases. The first being a special picture disc edition of Tubular Bells (VP2001). The second release was a four track retrospective titled Take Four (VS238). Released on the 1st December, this record was unique in two ways, the first being that it was Mike’s first single to be released on a 12″ format (VS238-12), and a second being one of the first to be pressed on white vinyl. There was even a sticker on the cover proclaiming that “Virgin Records is dreaming of a white vinyl Christmas!” Unfortunately, as with many of his single releases around this period, the record flopped, only reaching no. 71 in the UK charts. Strangely enough, both the 7″ and 12″ contained the same material, the tracks being Portsmouth, In Dulci Jubilo, Wrekorder Wrondo and the Sailors Hornpipe. Apart from the quaint Wrekorder Wrondo all the other tracks had been available on previous releases and for some reason this EP was only available in the UK.

There were to be only two collaboration releases in this year when Mike appeared, but not credited, on Tom Newman’s LP Faerie Symphony released on the Decca label (TSX123). The two tracks that Mike appeared on Dance on Daone Sidhe and Unseelie Court were also to be released as a single, also on the same label (Decca F13735).

©Peter Evans