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Barclay James  Harvest - Baby James Harvest CD (album) cover

BABY JAMES HARVEST

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

2.99 | 119 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars For the remarkable band that helped give the Harvest label its name, what is truly surprising is how their so-called "Classic" period contains only one great album out of 4, and only a few noteworthy singles out of umpteen. It seems that, after "Once Again" failed to rack up sales figures that were even close to what they deserved, BJH must have gone reeling, the costs of orchestrated tours becoming an albatross that the loyal if limited fan base must have demanded anyway. As a result, the uneven and unspectacular "Baby James Harvest" was to be the band's swan song for their namesake label. One could stop here and simply conclude that the band threw everything at us with "Once Again", and simply had little to add afterwards, a sort of 0-hit wonder. But later efforts would resoundingly disprove this theory. My review is based on the original LP.

The album opens well enough, with "Crazy Over You". Its insistent and enjoyable riff contains the germ of what would become "In My Life" several albums later, but the tune stands up well for the early 70s prog tinged melodic rocker that it is. Les' bass and Lees' guitars both shine as do the harmonies. "Delph Town Morn" is one of their few songs to include a variety of horns and, while otherwise sounding typical, these instruments do add another half dimension or so to an otherwise undistinguished folk tune. "Summer Soldier" is certainly progressive and contains two main parts, the second of which is mellotron drenched and accurately conveys the desolation of war both without and within. Nonetheless, it would be the live version of several years later that would become the only essential rendition of this suite.

"Thank you" is another in an ever lengthening line of failed John Lees rockers, but the inventive "Hundred Thousand Smiles Out" is one of Les' better early songs, in fact giving John more opportunity to shine than any of his own compositions on this outing. "Moonwater" is Woolly's only offering, and includes mostly his voice and mellow but full orchestrations, not particularly successful but nonetheless qualified for an occasional listen.

"Baby James Harvest", while having many redeeming qualities, could be regarded as the "contractual obligation album" for BJH, if you will, its general listlessness and nondescript nature signalling that a rebirth would be necessary for the band to make real progress on their journey.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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