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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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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 641

"Baby James Harvest" is the fourth studio album of Barclay James Harvest that was released in 1972. It was the last album released to their record label, the Harvest Records. In most BJH favourite charts, Baby James Harvest scarcely gets a mention. After the pomp of their eponymous debut first album, the brilliance of "Once Again" and some majesty of "Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories", it was a huge disappointment. In reality, it isn't a bad album, but there is a lack of sparkle and drive and it feels as if the band was simply going through the motions. But in general, it remains a disappointment. Overall, the sound is pretty depressed and it just doesn't seem to particularly go anywhere.

"Baby James Harvest" has six tracks. The first track "Crazy Over (You)" written by Les Holroyd is the song chosen to open the album and is a nice and a typical Les Holroyd song. Here we haven't the usual musical orchestration which was substituted by the Mellotron work. It's a very simple but very effective composition featuring excellent guitar and keyboard workings. We may say that this song is one of the first efforts and a typical example of what would be the musical direction that the group would take in the future. The second track "Delph Town Morn" written by John Lees is a nice and beautiful song that seems to be released first as a single. However, it seems that it hasn't been the choice, because it was "Thank You" that got the honour to be that. It feature thirteen musicians that formed a brass ensemble section and they weren't members of the orchestra that usually worked with them. However, this is one of their few songs to include horns, and the inclusion of these musical instruments adds another different musical dimension to their music. I don't know if it's because of that, but this song reminds me Supertramp. The third track "Summer Soldier" written by John Lees is a classic John Lees' song that was to become the most frequently performed live piece of music from the album. It became also one of the first political songs composed by John Lees. It refers the futility of violence and a plea for peace. It seems that was inspired by some events in Northern Ireland, although we can consider that its sentiments could equally be applied to any type of conflicts. The song begins as an acoustic song and in the second part the song was arranged by Woolly Wolstenholme. It represents one of the highest musical moments on the album and it remains as one of their best songs from this musical period. The fourth track "Thank You" written by John Lees, as I said before, would be chosen as the next Barclay James Harvest single. It seems that this song was the late addition to the album. This is the rocking song on the album and its lyrics were made as a tribute to their road crew and to many other people who influenced the band's life. This isn't, in reality, a great song and it represents, for me, one of the weakest points on the album. It's hard for me to understand why it was chosen to be released as a single and not "Delph Town Morn", which is, in my opinion, a better song. The fifth track "One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out" written by Les Holroyd is about the isolation of an astronaut lost in space. It's a song inspired by the space race and where the lyrics recount the isolation of a fictional astronaut. The space race was always in the news since the first expedition to the Moon in 1969, and that interest was reflected in many other songs from many other artists, in that time, such as "Space Oddity" of David Bowie and "Rocket Man" of Elton John. It's a very calm and nice song, well arranged, and like the first track "Crazy Over (You)", is another typical example of what would be the music direction that the group would take in the next future. The sixth and last track "Moonwater" written by Woolly Wolstenholme is the great magnum opus of the album. It's a perfect way to close the album with a great and dramatic final. It's a fantastic piece of music with an incredible and beautiful orchestral work. This song represents one of the highest points in the musical career of Woolly Wolstenholme as a great composer and it's also, in a certain way, a logical extension of another song released on their previous studio album, "The Poet". With those two songs, Woolly Wolstenholme proved that he was a great composer and that he could have followed a promising musical career as a classical composer, if he has chosen that path, really.

Conclusion: "Baby James Harvest" is, without any doubt, the weakest of the all four first studio albums released by Barclay James Harvest, the four albums released to their first record label, the Harvest Records. However, we can say that it isn't a bad musical piece. In reality, it has two great songs, "Summer Soldier" and especially, "Moonwater". However, the other four songs, despite being good songs, they don't have, in my humble opinion, the same quality level of the others, and I even can say that they're weaker than was usual in this musical phase of the group, especially "Thank You". Probably, the main reason for some lower quality of the album, is because the band were physically split during the recording sessions, with John Lees, Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard at Strawberry, in Stockport, and Woolly Wolstenholme mostly working with the orchestra in London, to the point that in some songs, John Lees and Les Holroyd play some keyboard instruments. "Baby James Harvest" is a good album, but it isn't nothing more than that.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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