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Barclay James  Harvest - Gone To Earth CD (album) cover

GONE TO EARTH

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.37 | 132 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I am one of those who believes that BJH early Polydor years were their best. Creatively, maybe not commercially. They have produced four albums of which the superb "Live" and two of their best studio albums ever released ("Everyone" and "Octoberon). Another one, a bit of a disappointment ("Time..."). I'm afraid this one belongs to the later category and initiates a downhill trend in the quality of their work.

The opener is a mellow folkish ballad submerged by heavy orchestrations. This specific aspect, omni-present in their early Harvest years, has never been appealing to me and are hardly bearable to my ears. It is a pity because as such this song could have been OK (I'll have to wait for some live version to be more positive about this number). Still, I have already mentioned that the injection of some religious aspect in their music was not my cup of tea (although, again, I respect each one's philosphical opinion).

"Love Is Like a Violin" is a combination of a very slow track which rocks for the chorus. Not bad, but where is the symphonic BJH I have praised so much in "Everyone" ? What to say about "Friend of Mine" ? An insipid and vaguely rocking tune, sounding as if it was coming out of another time. The Fab Four influence is obvious (like in their early years).

Finally, the first great track of the album appears now. "Poor Man's Moody Blues". It is of course very much MB oriented ("Nights In White Satin"). It really follows the structure of this wonderful song and even if this one might sound plagiatory for some of you, I have to say that I like it a lot. By far, the highlight of this release. Since it is the longest one as well, I can not complain. A great BJH/MB track but I would have titled it differently ("Moody Blues Fantasy" or something like that). This title implicitly indicates that this track plays in the MB second division and I believe it deserves more consideration. Anyway...

"Hard Hearted Woman" is another mellow and passionless song. Where are the great mellotron sounds from Wooly. Gone to hell, I'm afraid. Instead we'll get some electronic and useless ones. The fan is a bit fooled so far...

I guess that with a title like "Sea of Tranquility", we won't get a rocking number. It reminds me at times "Ra" from "Octoberon" by its quiet and oppressing mood. Even if some orchestration are also to be noticed, this is another good song (but only the third one so far). At least it has some vibrant aspects of the archetype of a BJH song. A bit pompous at the end though.

The last three numbers are typically the ones to be brodcasted in a supermarket to be sure that the customers won't rush out of the shop. Quiet and pleasant music, nice melodies; but again where is the grandeur and the passion one could feel in previous releases ?

The vocal harmonies from "Spirit on the Water" are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash (but they were more inspired, at least during the first part of their career).

The true emotion and beauty generated by their magnificent and typical sound (mostly noticeable on "Everyone" and "Live 74") seems to be all gone (to where?).

Instead BJH has produced a collection of poppish and easy listening music. For sure, they have never released complex music but on this effort, we'll really get too much of useless songs and the overall feeling that prevails is the one of boredom. Too bad.

My disappointment after their very good "Octoberon" is great. I guess that one part of the answer comes from the fact that John and Les have taken full control over BJH (they will both composed four songs on this album) . The only exception is "Sea of Tranquility" co-signed by Wooly and one of the proggiest (the only one ?) of this album.

Two stars.

ZowieZiggy | 2/5 |

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