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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.80 | 231 ratings

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4 stars It's 1971, it's their second album and the boys from Saddleworth are flying! Recorded at Abbey Road by Norman Smith [Beatles & Pink Floyd] and with Alan Parsons playing a little jaws harp, they really found their niche here with a much lighter and smoother touch than on the debut. And the inspiration was flowing in rivers as no less than four songs would become classics, remaining as favourites to this day:

Mocking Bird - a pretty song with unexciting yet memorable lyrics turned into an enduring Prog classic by the insertion of a wonderful orchestral interlude in the middle courtesy of Robert Godfrey and the BJH Symphony Orchestra! Probably the most requested and popular BJH song ever.

She Said - written by Les, adapted/arranged and sung by Woolly, and erroneously credited to John! Again, lyrically it is no great shakes but musically this is a towering Prog classic, full of soaring guitars and sumptuous Mellotron, with a 'progressive' melody and a central instrumental based around a recorder solo from John. And when that Mellotron starts up it sends shivers down the spine!

Song For Dying - from the same mold as She Said and equally as strong, a powerful anti-war song from John where gentler piano-led parts build to a rousing guitar-led crescendo at the start of the refrains, accompanied by some untypically aggressive vocals. John's poetic vision is very evocative - "Two and by two in the dawn's early light / All went to die in the morning".

Galadriel - OK it's technically not a Prog song but who cares when it is as perfect as this? Galadriel is a beautiful pastoral evocation of Tolkien's ever-young elf queen, on which John plays one of John Lennon's guitars accompanied by lashings of Mellotron.

Those four are the album's key songs, and the reason why it is held in such high regard. Others are good but less adventurous: Vanessa Simmonds and The Lady Loves are good but simple lilting love songs; Woolly's depressing environmental protest song A Happy Old World is a clever juxtaposition of superficially upbeat lyrics and downbeat tune; while noisy curiosity Ball And Chain is an "angst-ridden rocker" using some high-tech special effects [Woolly sings through a paper cup!].

The band here created the essential 'BJH sound', a combination of superior soft rock songs given twists in arrangement by Woolly's sense of adventure, and topped with John's authoritative melodic guitar phrasing to form a more potent brew than the term 'soft rock' might suggest. The rough edges are clearly apparent but the album exudes a vitality and energy which retains its freshness to this day.

Poor man's Moody Blues? Never!

Joolz | 4/5 |


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