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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.80 | 232 ratings

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Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Incredible but true! Yes, I'm reviewing the Barclay James Harvest's classic masterpiece! Never did it before 'cause I simply didn't found the words, maybe...

It's not easy for me to express and to explain why and how much I love this important english band. I know for sure that the fact they were (and are) unjustly accused of being a Moody Blues' clone did impress me deeply since the very first experience I had with them, through the unlucky (but adventurous) album "Baby James Harvest".

Their typical EMI's sound is based on a fruitful mix between pastoral structure within a strong symphonic vein builded upon the interesting interplay between Woolly Wolstenholme's mighty mellotron and an appreciable use of a true symphonic orchestra.

Once Again is the definitive BJH's album from their earlier period, generally regarded as the best one. It contains their timeless classics: "Mockingbird", "She Said" and "Galadriel".

It's difficult for me to explain what I feel listening to such an opus. The general mood is pompous and melodic. Guitarist John Lees definitely abandon any embarassement and starts to sing and to play his electric guitar within his unique distorted and nervous sound.

This is where bassist Les Holroyd writes one of the most powerful and convincing intros ever: "She Said", a song that origined from two original recordings then mixed for the best result and for our great pleasure.

"Mockingbird" is...well...stunning, pompous and dramatic. A continuous guitar's riff crossing the immense and powerful waves of such a big symphonic orchestra.

"Galadriel" (obviously inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) is simply a little gem. They did the job, perfectly. Magic, symphonic pleasure enriched by a delicate brass' section and polite guitar's arpeggio. Above all the mellow vocals of John Lees.

The other tracks are all highlights, in my opinion. From the environmentalist Wolstenholme's "Happy Old World" to the acoustic sad ballad "Vanessa Simmons". "Song for Dying" is another special favourite of mine starting with warm vocals and soft classic piano and then exploding into that screaming electric guitar, courtesy of John Lees. Possibly another immortal tune.

The last two tracks are also worthy of special mention: the strong "Ball and Chain" which is also the hardest rock number here with Wolstenholme's apparently sophisticated vocals' effects made, simply, singing through a paper cup. The romantic closer "Lady Loves" features the important contribution of a certain (then simple a young tape operator) ALAN PARSON who plays jaw harp.

The remastered reissue contents five interesting bonus tracks: two unreleased tunes and three quadrophonic remixes of "Happy Old World", "Ball and Chain" and "Vanessa Simmons".

A wonderful album. Their most consistent one from the EMI's era. 4.5 stars

Andrea Cortese | 4/5 |


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