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Barclay James  Harvest - Time Honoured Ghosts CD (album) cover

TIME HONOURED GHOSTS

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.61 | 142 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars With "Time Honoured Ghosts", BJH travelled to San Francisco to enlist the services of acclaimed producer Elliott Mazer, and borrowed esteemed Maxfield Parrish's "Harvest" painting for the cover. Going American perhaps? Not really...for starters, the title utilizes British spelling. Moreover, Mazer works with the group's naturally English sound, and it is here that the only real improvement occurs over the previous masterpiece. Mazer has opened up more space in the group's signature styles and worked brilliant contrasts into the material, like those on the bold Parrish work.

So what is wrong, and why is this a decided step down? Simply, the songwriting and material is a lot weaker. The dominance of Beatle-esque references extends far beyond the "traditional" tune "Titles" into segments of "Jonathan", which, unlike its namesake, never quite gets off the ground and "Moongirl" with Holroyd's growing tendency to crank his voice to ever higher octaves. Think "Lucy in the Sky..." for an idea. Even Woolly, who was shunned as songwriter just a year earlier, delivers an overwrought dud in "Beyond the Grave". One could argue, somewhat justifiably, that he adapted his songwriting and arranging for the group's new style, but at the cost of a complete loss of subtlety.

Luckily, where the album shines it sparkles - "In My Life", "Song For You", and "One Night" are all top notch, with creative shifts and harmonies. Even "Sweet Jesus" is an expressive Holroyd tune that can almost convert the agnostic. Its spare arrangements and naiive vocals fit the bill. "Hymn for the Children" is the highlight, with a gorgeous Lees melody, uplifting vocals, jangly Byrds styled guitars and a whiff of celestial mellotron in the chorus.

At its best, "Time Honoured Ghosts" lives up to its lovely name, but this is not quite often enough to justify an excellent rating. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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