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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.80 | 233 ratings

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Theo Verstrael
5 stars It is often stated that producing a second album with equal quality as a succesful debut is quite hard. Well, that turned out to be totally false with 'Once again', the second BJH album. With this album they achieved one of their finest moments in their long career and set a standard for quality for many years to come. There are simply no weak songs on this splendid album, all songs are quite different but together they make a master piece. It immediately starts off well with 'She said', a long and very varied song. The band shows that they can rock, that they can be classical (a recorder solo in the middle section) and that they can work perfectly with an orchestra. This song is still one of the best they ever recorded. And it worked well live too (listen to their first live album). 'Happy old world' is surely quite classical, with Wolstenholme's keyboards leading the music, mellow and nice, developing into the electric piano coda. The lyrics don't make you feel too good because of their cynism but that is actually one of the things I like most in this song. 'Song for dying' expresses in its title exactly what I don't like to do when listening to the music. It starts off with a beautiful vocal line, backed by sparse keyboards, nicely developing into the chorus that really sounds like an outburst in which three of the band members sing, supported by Lees' fierce guitar. It surely gives me the shivers every time I listen to it, it is far too beautiful to start dying! 'Galadriel' is the first song that was written by an individual member of the band, guitarist John Lees. Of course it is inspired by Tolkiens novel and it surely pays credit to that phenomenal work of literature. Because this nice little song is so melodic, so beautiful, so romantic that the listener can very well imagine that he is amongst lovely and loving creatures. The original b-side of the album started off with the real BJH classic 'Mocking bird'. It still is a classic as it still sounds great. It is in fact quite a simple song with definitely a simple text but it works so well, the melody sticks into your head, the orchestra just fills in so perfectly, that the song never fails to impress. 'Vanessa Simmonds' is a very nice, small piece of enjoyable music, with acoustic guitars and a well sung vocal line. 'Ball and chain' shows the rocking side of BJH, with loud vocals (by BJH standards that is), fierce guitar chords and a very rock 'n roll feeling in general. The original album closes with another nice little piece, 'The lady loves' which is another beautiful ballad. It also introduces the then unknown Alan Parsons on mouth harp, an instrument never used again by the band but in this song very well done. Later on John Lees would tell us (on the Welcome to the show' album) that he played John Lennon's guitar during the recording sessions of this song, one of his all time heroes.

In spite of the rerelease of their debut album which contained loads of interesting bonus tracks this rerelease contains only a sparse number of those, two of which are actually not that interesting at all because they are quad mixes (and who possesses such a sound system nowadays) that add little to the original. Only two bonus tracks are really worthwhile ('White ships' and 'Too much on my plate') because they had never been released before. Yet the album in itself was and still is a classic. Therefore a five star, no doubt about that!

Theo Verstrael | 5/5 |


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