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Barclay James  Harvest - Octoberon CD (album) cover

OCTOBERON

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.75 | 171 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The symph pop prog "Time Honoured Ghosts" was a bit of a deception for me. I would have hoped that BJH would follow the mellotronish music developped in their fantastic "Live 74".

The opener "The World Goes On" reminds me more their early days than their first and great Polydor album ("Everyone"). A folk ballad, melodious but too mellowish. Just average. It seems that their "love" for orchestration stroke back on this number. I had hoped to get rid of this for all and for good. But I was apparently wrong.

Fortunately, we'll get a good follower with "May Day". One of my favourite when I bought this vinyl album at the time of release. Compositions are longer on this album, which is good when the track is great and boring when it is not. But "May Day" even if not a great track, is far from being boring.

Whoolly is doing a great job here. Then the long finale. A sort of Christian choir chanting traditional music. If I do not usually like these religious moods (remember my comments about "Sweet Jesus" in their previous release), I feel just shaked when I listen to this part. A full symphony. Marvelous in its emotion and brilliant it the interpretation. A highlight, and believe me I usually am not so found of these sounds but I am just knocked down after this section.

But it is time to get up and be prepared for "Ra", the god of sun in the Egyptian mythology. Actually, you can feel the sun while listening to this track. Heavy, burning everything standing in front of him (the sun, I mean). I have been to Egypt once in July and I can tell you that this slow, monotone song describes pretty well one's feeling while being in the desert around noon. You are glued to the ground and each of your movement is a serious effort. Only easier when it cools a bit in the late afternoon; as the song which will be rockier as the time goes by. A very special mood indeed. I have always liked "Ra". A great closing number for this first side of the original album.

"Rock'n Roll Star" renew with a more rocking sound, mixed with a very catchy melody. But BJH has been a master in writing nice songs. Not always essential, but just beautiful. I guess no one could blame a band because of writing beautiful pieces of music. Not the best track of the album, but a very pleasant poppy one. Fully symphonic. I guess that to have placed BJH in the art rock genre is not the most brilliant idea. They have invented the true symphonic rock and that's the only place in which they should fit in.

With "Polk Street Rag" BJH is trying to write a pure rock song with an attempt of a Stones riff. That's probably not their best idea on this work. We could of course not escape to the Fab Four influence on this album, so don't worry : "Believe In Me" will probably remind them to you (at least it does to me). Melodic vocal parts (so much Crosby, Stills and Nash oriented - you know Judy Blue Eyes) and a very nice mellotron in the background.

The closing number "Suicide ?" has always been my favourite of this album (and still is more than thirty years later - for once getting old brings you this type of privilege). One of my top five favourite from BJH all time. It is a marvelous song. One of the most poignant I have ever heard (hence the title). An incredible descritption of a person who will commit suicide. Absolutely sad. The backing vocals are just superb. I have physically cried a lot of time while listening to this song. The end is extremely emotional; while the main character takes the elevator and jumps (?). The sound of the falling at the very end of the song is so vibrant and desperate that the listener is transported into the utmost sadness when hearing "Just In Time".

I thought to finish my night session with this track but I really cannot go to bed after this (it is 2 AM by now). You definitley need something optimistic to change your mood, otherwise you might take the elevator and jump.

For stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |

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