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Barclay James  Harvest - Octoberon CD (album) cover

OCTOBERON

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.75 | 174 ratings

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Theo Verstrael
4 stars 'Octoberon' is probably the best illustration from their long and impressing career that Barclay James Harvest was at their absolute peak during the first years of the Polydor contract. Having delivered a stunning and by that time hugely underrated 'rock' album with 'Everyone is everybody else', the band took a different direction with the successor 'Time honoured ghosts'. That album was quiet, with short songs and an alltogether mellow atmosphere, indicated by the stunning album cover. And with 'Octoberon' they decided to do a totally different album again, with longer songs, a dark atmosphere in the songs and the lyrics which may have not been appealling to the new audiences they gathered with the first two Polydor albums. But the band simply wanted to do the songs they wanted to record and right they were. The album starts off very mellow, with a nice acoustic guitar and a good melody, sung very well by Les Holroyd. The song builds up with electric guitar and drums blending together in the choruses. Beautiful beginning. Mayday is a very peculiar song, written and sung by guitarplayer John Lees. Peculiar because of the use of a choir at the end of the song and the almost total absence of guitar. The songs fits perfectly between the lighthearted opening track and the dark, almost spooky and very classical Wolstenholme track 'Ra', probably the best he wrote in his BJH-career. It had a very strange but attractive melody, is dominated by heavy, threatening keyboards that almost play a duet with the guitar and leaves the listener with an uneasy feeling that something bad has just happened. Which is not the case fortunately. The nest three songs are more or less straightforward BJH-songs, with nice melodies, good musicianship and rather romantic lyrics. The album originally closes off with the haunting 'Suicide?' whose melody, guitar and vocals still give me the chivers. An absolute great song with a highly original ending and the never-to-be-anwered question: Did he jump or not? This song certainly ranks among the best John Lees has ever written. As a whole 'Octoberon' has almost nothing of the pastoral sphere that marked 'Time honoured ghosts' nor of the more rock-driven sphere of 'EIEE'. It is an album that has a sound and a taste of its own, markedly different from its precessors and markedly different from the successors. It is BJH at the peak of creativity.
Theo Verstrael | 4/5 |

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