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Barclay James  Harvest - All Is Safely Gathered In - An Anthology 1967-1997 CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Barclay James Harvest are not one of the easiest bands to categorise, the task even harder when describing a box set that covers their entire career up to 1997 over 5 discs. To describe them as Symphonic Prog would certainly cover some of their material and in their earlier days resorted to using an Orchestra on many tracks giving them a Symphonic sound in the most literal sense. They were once described as a poor man's Moody Blues (and retaliated by writing a song of the same name) and while there may be similarities on some material I have always preferred Barclay James Harvest. Towards the end of the seventies the band started to take a more mainstream AOR approach to their song writing leading to Wolly Wolstenholme leaving the band. This line continued for pretty much the rest of their recorded output.

The contents of this beautifully packaged box set are well chosen and all their albums are represented here, though not always with the same version that would appear on the final album giving long term fans who already own all the catalogue incentive to invest in this. For example their Everyone is Everybody Else album, a fan favourite has 5 tracks from it here, but only Crazy City is the actual album version. Child of the Universe being an alternative version, Negative Earth and The Great 1974 Mining Disaster being the original mix. For No One is the version that appears on their excellent first Live album. Another fan favourite is the Once Again album and that is well represented with 4 tracks here, all being the original album version in this case. The material is also pleasingly augmented by single A and B sides.

The songs are presented chronologically and most readers here will probably enjoy the first 3 discs best, being their more Progressive material and it's towards the end of disc 3 where we start to enter into their more mainstream Rock phase. However disc 5, titled The Wheat and the Chaff is a full CD of totally unreleased and rare recordings. The liner notes state that "When listened to in the context of the preceding four CDs in this set, they tell their own interesting story..".

Naturally any compilation, even one as comprehensive as this one is going to leave out tracks that fans feel should have been included but an excellent job has been done here. The casual listener of the band has a chance to pick up most of the important tracks but also giving something for the die hard completionists. An added interest is the sixty page booklet accompanying this excellent package which is well worth investing in.

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Posted Saturday, December 15, 2007 | Review Permalink

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