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Barclay James  Harvest - ... And Other Short Stories CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.25 | 125 ratings

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4 stars BJH followed up 1971's Once Again by releasing the aptly titled And Other Short Stories later that same year. And Other Short Stories is a collection of comparitively short songs, a blend of rock-inspired tracks and folk-inflected ballads, but also displaying a notable West Coast influence.

Medicine Man is a suitably attention-grabbing opener, although the extended version on the 1974 live album is far superior. Someone There You Know is a pleasant romantic ballad featuring Mellotron, exciting guitar licks and some Crosby, Stills & Nash inspired harmonies. We then have Harry's Song, a fairly unmemorable John Lees composition. Ursula (The Swansea Song) is better; a lovely folksy ballad with Woolly's Mellotron-flute being particularly nice. An obvious reference point for this song is Voices In The Sky by The Moodies. Side One of the original album concludes with Little Lapwing, with Les Holroyd sounding uncannily like Graham Nash. This track has a strong West Coast feel with Les playing steel guitar. However the track concludes with a brass band to the fore, obviously influenced by BJH's ''oop north'' roots.

Song With No Meaning is another lovely tune featuring vocal harmonies that sound overtly like CSN. The John Lees penned Blue John's Blues starts off sounding a bit like James Taylor, before building to become a John Lennon rocker. Sounds like a filler to my ears. The album then concludes with the mini-epic pairing of Woolly's orchestral piece The Poet, and the apocalyptic After The Day which erupts with searing Mellotron similar to Epitaph by King Crimson (who else!), blistering guitar and an atomic explosion at the end. Considering the pastoral nature of the rest of the album, this is a very dark ending.

The music on offer here is not especially challenging or demanding, so serious prog-heads should probably look elsewhere. Even by BJH's own standards this album is fairly light, with the exception of the end track. However I've always felt it was under-rated, and in Medicine Man and After The Day it features two of BJH's all-time classic songs. And Other Short Stories is like an old friend to me, so 4 stars.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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