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Barclay James  Harvest - Gone To Earth CD (album) cover

GONE TO EARTH

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.37 | 132 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars An exceptional release in 1977 from a band who I have been listening to and revisiting quite a lot lately. In fact, I believe that it might be a good time for them to be generally re-evaluated in a far more positive light than they presently are for their contribution to the genre.

This album contains three genuine classics, and a whole lot more good stuff besides.

Hymn, the opener, is simply beautiful, and one of my favourite tracks of all time. Listening to it again tonight, it certainly carries a bitter sweet irony in the wake of the tragic suicide of Woolly Wolstenholme. On the face of it, this is an overtly religious song, but one which has at its heart a definite gentle cynicism, allowing the listener to make his/her own mind up about its true intent.

Poor Man's Moody Blues, which, if you close your eyes and mind, is Nights In White Satin retold, was a deliberate act by John Lees, obviously absolutely fed up with all of the (sometimes extremely unkind) comparisons to the band that were, by then, described as The Stockbrokers of British Rock. A song dripping with irony, I never felt, as others did, that it was a true tribute, just Lees way of hitting back. Whether it was unintentional or not, what he actually came up with was a lovely song, and I don't think he ever sounded better singing, nor, indeed, the band in their lush sound and harmonies. Perhaps, in hindsight, it is better to listen and regard it as a wonderful love song that was in stark, and welcome, contrast to the chaos of punk that was raging around our country at the time.

Taking Me Higher closes the album, and is a portent of the direction the band would take with later releases. Only just over three minutes in length, this is another gentle ballad, this time written by Les Holroyd, backed especially by some fine keyboard work by Woolly.

So much for the highlights. Elsewhere, the remainder ain't half bad, either. Hard Hearted Woman is more upbeat that anything else on the album and features some great bass work by Holroyd especially. Almost funky and danceable to, it's a very good piece of music.

Sea Of Tranquility is Wolstenholme's sole compositional contribution to the album, and it is a blinder. Spacey (no pun intended) and written and performed as just the type of symphonic masterpiece that made the band's name in the first place, it is a joy.

The rest is just what makes me enjoy the band. Melodic, flowing vocals and harmonies, and very easy listening compositions, which, in the hands of a band as good as this, is by no means a bad thing.

It is not good enough to be a masterpiece, and I don't think that the band themselves would place it there. It is, however, an excellent album and one of the finest crossover albums I own.

Four stars and highly recommended to those who wish to explore these unsung heroes of English melodic rock further.

lazland | 4/5 |

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