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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover

ONCE AGAIN

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.78 | 181 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Second album and the artwork presenting a small section of their predecessor's artwork was leading us to fear the worst. Unsubstantiated fears though, as Once Again is a significant improvement over their poor debut album; and not because of two hits, but a general much-increase f everything, especially in the songwriting dept, which is evident by having four tracks written by BJH, while the rest are single writers.

Right from the first notes of She Said, you're wondering if indeed this is the same BJH band that had started so poorly the year before. Indeed, the 8-mins opener pulls some Vanilla Fudge-like drama (Pritchard's drumming is superb here, although not well-recorded) with some Moody Blues vocals harmonies. After a clam mid-section, the group comes back with fervour to close the song in a thrilling manner. Excellent and probably BJH's best track, but we're hardly talking masterpiece here, more of a minor classic, at best. The following Happy Old World starts with a short intro that reminds me of the Swiss group Circus's first line in Dawn (some six years later), but it stops there. This song is an average track for the present album, but it would be a highlight on the previous debut album. The following Song For Dying has loud fuzzed guitars, but I find it quite average, although I bet I'm in a minority on this one. Definitely the album's sonic peak, this abrasive rocker has uninventive chorus lines. I might appear a little tough with the last two tracks I mentioned, but I've spent years telling the people that this album is over-rated, because songs like these are generally likeable but nothing out of the ordinary.

The strings arrangements on Galadriel are so heavy that it crushes the original melody and reduces it to laughable excuse for using their orchestra. We're now reaching the group's first classic track, the charming Mocking Bird, a track that starts out really superbly on Lees' guitar underlined by Holroyd superb bass, with delightful vocals on rather overly simple lyrics. Unfortunately as the track goes on further it is gradually eaten up by the orchestra and quickly the great simple song grows in a cheese fondue for Gibraltar's garrisons, but the original melody manages to survive until its overstayed welcome has reached its end. The closing Hackettian guitar does give a substance to this average orchestra performance. The gritty Ball and Chain is a welcome change, with loud guitar, bluesy riff, a great underlining organ, sometimes reminiscent of Floyd's ATM track (of the same year) with some Gilmour-like sounds on guitar and some Wright-organ layers. The soporific Lady Loves and the unremarkable Vanessa are just fillers, but compared to the debut album, they'd be just.. Fillers as well.

While Once again IS a great improvement on the debut album, and this might just be BJH's better album (among the early ones anyway) we're still a far cry from a prog classic album and there is no way this deserves more than three stars, no matter what my (not-so, this time) trusted colleagues will tell you in their own words.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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