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


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.26 | 196 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Best before the end of 1970!

While The Beatles, The Moody Blues and Procol Harum had, at times, come close to being Prog, they were really only Proto-Prog. Barclay James Harvest were really Prog, but they were mostly very close to being merely Proto-Prog. This debut album from 1970 was released the same year as Yes' Time And A Word, Jethro Tull's Benefit and Genesis' Trespass, and it stands up pretty very well among those albums. But while these three other bands were very soon to go on making several groundbreaking masterpieces, Barclay James Harvest never reached much higher than this.

Yes, Genesis and Jethro Tull also developed very strong musical identities and personalities. The unmistakeable voice of Jon Anderson, the distinctive voice and flute sounds of Ian Anderson and the charismatic and theatrical Peter Gabriel were essential factors in these band's early success. Barclay James Harvest, on the other hand, were quite anonymous and lacking any strong identity.

It is clear today that Barclay James Harvest is nothing more than a second division Prog band, and they were never truly groundbreaking even back in the early 70's. The main influences on Barclay James Harvest were probably the three bands I mentioned at the start - The Beatles, The Moody Blues and Procol Harum. And these bands had already pioneered the use of the Mellotron and the use of symphony orchestras in a rock setting.

But Barclay James Harvest also had a Folk influence that the proto-proggers did not. On this album, the opening track Taking Some Time On is based on a folky melody played on electric guitar. Perhaps making this song the first hard rock/Folk crossover ever? This is actually one of my favourite Barclay James Harvest songs.

Mother Dear and The Iron Maiden are very mellow, soft, acoustic songs, while When The World Was Woken (another semi-favourite) and Dark Now My Sky are symphonic rock, the former featuring the typical 60's orchestral sound of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine soundtrack. Good Love Child is the worst song on the album and the only song on which it sounds as if they were really still stuck in the 60's.

Overall, this is a good early Prog album and a very good example of what Barclay James Harvest were all about in their early days. While their second album, Once Again, is slightly better in some respects, this album might be the best one in other respects. If this band ever could claim to be an important band, it must be with this first album that they were able to make some kind of impact on the progressive world.

Good, but non-essential.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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