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


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.03 | 168 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars Apparently on the verge of bankruptcy, Barclay Lames Hardest returned to the studio with as little budget (this remains to confirm) at no producer, Baby JH suffers of its unjust reputation of a botched job. While it is no Once Again, it's certainly no worse than Other Short Stories and in some regards is even better. The puerile, yet smile-inducing artwork was certainly not fitting for the album's music. Apparently the group recorded most tracks as a trio, Wolstenholme missing most sessions, but managing to intervene in just two songs, but scoring a credit in Moonwater (where only him appears), the only track with their famous symphonic orchestra.

With the usually bland BJH-mould, yet derivative Crazy opening the album, there was not much chance for the album to hit the fans with high hopes; while the equally-daft Delph Town More is confirming this with its horn section and finishing on a Helliwell-like sax solo. Which is quite funny, because the opening taped sequence of the mega-epic Summer Soldier is reminiscent of Supertramp's Fool's Overture's taped sequence in its middle section. However interesting might be Summer Soldier, though, it doesn't come to the knee cap of the Supertramp epic (this was another era, though), but it's definitely worth the listen (with its Irish situation of the time) if you happen to have it handy at your free convenience.

The flipside starts on the dumb R'nR Thank You, where BJH sings the album's credits, but they're no Robert Wyatt at this exercise while the singing-out just about anything. 100 000 Smiles Out is another track that could fit in their Procol Harum file (especially Lees' guitar approaching Trower's). A correct track if you ask me. The closing Moonwater is a plaintive track that probably needed a better production is fairly impressive achievement with a reputedly low budget, but I'm not much a fan of this type of tracks, which echoes the previous' album Poet track.

Certainly no worse than its predecessor Baby JH is probably the most under-rated album in an otherwise much over-rated discography. The album's non-success and the band's catastrophic finances (mostly related to the orchestra and its expenses) will lead to many contract severed, with the label and their management. The group did manage to survive (and still does today), but had to amputate itself from its orchestra. Of the first four non-essential albums, only one is what I would call good, two more (included this one) are worth the investment if you're a fan and only the debut is best shunned. But this old writer would wisely tell you to avoid the band altogether, as it was simply never able to invent its own soundscape..

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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