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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover

ONCE AGAIN

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.80 | 180 ratings

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febus
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars ONCE AGAIN BJH DID IT!

ONCE AGAIN, the second BJH album follows in the footsteps of their self titled debut with its beautiful melodies, mellotron trenched tunes, gorgeous harmonies but with less emphasis on the orchetra which can be really heard on one track, the BJH signature song, the majestic MOCKINGBIRD.

ONCE AGAIN is one of those albums, you listen to quietly at home relaxing on your sofa with a good glass of wine and good company feeling good about you and your life. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST is not a band for angry people or rebels!! They play pretty music with a pastoral athmosphere, looking for beauty making you feel great. Listening to BJH doesn't remind you of the sad suburbs of BIRMINGHAM or LIVERPOOL, you just get a pretty picture of the quaint English countryside. At least, that's the way i feel.

The album opens with the beautiful 8 mns synphonic ballad SHE SAID penned by JOHN LEES. This is a beautiful trip full of beautiful mellotron parts, a dramatic vocal performance counter-balanced by an aggressive guitar (yes, it happens sometimes) but everything mix perfectly and when you reach the flute solo interlude, you are ready to enter heaven! This track is still performed nowadays by the band and is really their first ''classic''

More heaven is on the way with the following wonderful songs like HAPPY OLD WORLD, SONG FOR DYING and the gorgeous GALADRIEL. This is when BJH transform everything they create into magic. Such strong beautiful melodies with great arrangements. There is nothing adventurous about the band, it's not about instrumental virtuosity and showing off their skills, this is just about finding the right cute note and place it where it should be to make sure the whole song sounds beautiful.

MOCKINGBIRD is one of their most enduring anthems; there is no concert even in 2007 when this song is not performed; that's no-no like The Rolling Stones not performing SATISFACTION or Santana BLACK MAGIC WOMEN. This is grandiose, dramatic even pompous , a poster song every prog hater would love to use as an example to discredit prog music. For me, it's just plain beautiful as Knights in white Satin is for the Moodies.

What prevents me to give the full 5 star treatment to ONCE AGAIN is the ending of this album as the last 3 songs sound more ''ordinary'' than all what precede. This is not fair for VANESSA SIMMONS a nice acoustic ballad, BALL AND CHAIN a curious ''hard'' rocker and the sweet LADY LOVES as they are good songs in their own ways, but sound subpar compared to the heights reached by the first 5 fantastic tracks. For example, LOVE AND ChAIN sound a little bit our of place with its hardrockish guitar riff in the middle of this relaxing lush athmosphere, but that's a good tune anyway .

We have been used so far to so much lush orchestrations before than when you listen to VANESSA SIMMONS and LADY LOVES, these 2 songs sound quite ''naked'' , stripped to the minimun with their only acoustic guitar accompaniement. Other listeners might think it's a nice way to end the album or open wider horizons to this album. I guess it's just a question of personal taste, so i let you judge.

ONCE AGAIN is an album that should be included in any serious prog collection; BJH is not a challenging band, this is the light side of prog, but also a beautiful side. If you are looking for gorgeous melodies with delicate arrangements, this is the band for you. If you are looking for weird musical experiments, please move on!

4 STARS

febus | 4/5 |

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