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Barclay James  Harvest - Brother Thrush / Poor Wages CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.25 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars 2 stars really. Barclay James Harvest were formed in 1966, in Oldham, Lancashire. Schoolmates John Lees and Stuart Wolstenholme had a band Blues Keepers, while another local band called The Wickeds included Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard. The new quartet cut some demos in the late '67 and were signed to EMI's Parlophone label the following spring. After BJH's folky debut single 'Early Morning' (1968) they were moved onto the new, prog-oriented label, coincidentally named Harvest, which released this second single.

Many years later a music critic bashed BJH as "poor man's Moody Blues", but -- neutrally speaking -- it's quite clear right from the start that they did operate pretty much in the same style as the Moodies, whose poppy and lightly psychedelic proto-prog undoubtedly influenced them. And there's nothing bad or unusual in it; they still had a sound of their own instead of being copycats. However, sometimes some details in their songs sound very much like the Moodies, and 'Brother Thrush' is one of those cases.

The acoustically oriented verse parts of the song are very nice, with a sitar-like guitar sound and later on some organ backing. Cute melody, good vocals. But the chorus, it has high vocal harmonies like they were stolen from a Moody Blues song such as 'Love and Beauty' or 'Dr Livingstone, I Presume'. The sticky chorus becomes too central in the otherwise charming little song.

On the flipside there's a notably stronger song, 'Poor Wages'. This has a darker mood, and more spine in the playing, especially on the rhythm section and a sharp electric guitar solo. The chorus gets repeated again several times, but together with the slower verse parts it forms a dynamic and emotionally deep rock song of the late sixties era. Both songs have appeared on compilations of BJH's early years.

Matti | 2/5 |


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