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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "There's a mockingbird, singing songs in the tree"

"Once again" is the favourite of many BJH fans, due in no small part to the inclusion of two of their best ever songs, "She said", and "Mocking bird". Both are heavily orchestrated, and stately in pace.

"She said" is a powerful story of unrequited love. It is deceptively simple in structure, being vaguely reminiscent of the Moody Blues "Isn't life strange". The pop like two verse, three chorus basis is accompanied by infectious instrumental passages, and a haunting flute solo. "Mocking bird" too has a simple basis, but is developed into a truly awesome piece of prog. The symphonic interlude of "1812 overture" stature which occupies the core part of the piece is surrounded by a simple melody, and repetitive lyrics. This is BJH at their absolute zenith. In many ways, these two tracks established the BJH "sound".

Other standout tracks on the album are "Song for Dying" and "Happy old world". These are simpler art rock songs, the former moving from almost whispered verses to loud acidic choruses, John Lees voice soaring majestically over Woolstenholme's symphonic keyboards.

As a whole, the album lacks the up tempo numbers of the first album, making it more even, but less diverse. The only real weak spot is "Ball and chain", which for me is dull and over long.

In all though, a very good soft prog album.

Report this review (#22602)
Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Without a question, BJH's "Once Again" would also be nominated as one of my most beloved albums. "Once again" marked BJH's second release under the careful direction of Robert Godfrey (The ENID). With hints of the genius of The BEATLES, BJH wrote one of the most enduring albums of all time. Classic English early progressive rock in a style very much influenced by works of The MOODY BLUES with orchestral and heavy symphonic passages and landscapes. John Lee's classic "Mocking Bird" is featured on this album which to this day still fills my heart with wonder.
Report this review (#22603)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is from the good old days of BJH! They are tree Barclays: one when the band recorder in the harvest label; the second when the band recorder in the polydor label and the last when the band recorder without the men behind the mellotron (Wooly Wolstenholme). This album, of course, is from the first, and better part. Beatiful songs, great melodies. Two memorable songs: She Said and Mockingbird. This songs are in history of symphonic and progressive rock. In time of "Once Again" the Barclay James Harves are a great band! Fans of mellotron, dont loose this album!
Report this review (#22605)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I came into BJH via's "similar artists"-links to Moody Blues, but to mock BJH as 'poor man's Moody Blues' (as critics did at the time) is an unfair insult. Yes, their early Mellotron-featured sound is sometimes close to MB's, and like in MB, most members sing. Anyway, safe to say BJH will most likely please those who like MB ('67-'72). 'Baroque rock' is one description I've heard. Before this I had heard the two next albums which I find very uneven - especially singing in them sounds often quite bad. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The majestic opening ('She Said') is among the best album intros I know. That spellbinding spirit continues with fantastic, melancholic - and also well-sung - songs ('Mocking Bird' being the best known). 'Ball and Chain' is very ballsy rocking number but I like it too. 'Lady Loves' in the end is the weakest - it BTW features Alan Parsons on jaw- harp. My CD has bonus tracks, two unreleased songs and quadrophonic versions of album's songs (I could do without them). But Once Again is to me the 3rd best album of 1971 (after Pawn Hearts and Nursery Cryme). Fragile has too many fillers to beat it.
Report this review (#22608)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the first prog albums I ever heard, after Nursery Cryme, and still one of my favourites. BJH used their own orchestra on this album, and it is one of the best integrations of rock band and orchestra around.

"She Said" (not to be confused with the Beatles "She Said, She Said") kicks off the album, starting off with some nice keyboards but a slightly dodgy roll around the drum kit. This song sets the tone for the album, with the distinctive guitar sound which features heavily throughout the album. Following one of the short guitar solos, it goes into a very quiet orchestral section before bursting back into the rest of the song. An excellent chorus and a good start to the album. "Song For Dying", despite the rather morbid title and lyric, is one of the best songs on the album, again featuring that wonderful guitar sound, going up the scale until you think it cannot go any higher. The beautifully evocative "Galadriel" starts off on guitar but is mainly voice and orchestra, demonstrating effective an orchestra can be on a prog album. This precedes "Mocking Bird" which is probably the best known song here, if not the best known BJH song. An excellent melody again featuring striking use of the orchestra. "Vanessa Simmons" is a simple but effective number with just acoustic guitars under the vocals. "Ball and Chain" is a fairly basic but effective rock song with another impassioned vocal. "Lady Loves" winds up the album with a high guitar playing over the vocal and this is one of the few times a Jaws harp has featured on a pro album.

One of the classic prog albums of the early 70s, everyone should check this out.

Report this review (#39991)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second work announced in 1971 "Once Again". Work basically similar to the first work. The number in which a symphonic arrangement is adopted for a melancholic melody is a center. As for the orchestra, this work is positively used. It is the overall, powerful, and magnificent. "Mocking Bird" is a masterpiece. Feeling with the delicacy and warmth is an album of the charm. The album jacket is an expansion of a part of the first work.
Report this review (#44991)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered Barclay James Harvest through a dvd I bought wich contained some progressive songs from several bands such as Yes, ELP and Uriah Heep, and of course BJH. The song included was of course Mockingbird, in a superb live performance. I decided I had to buy that album since I was so touched by the song.

The album starts off with the beautiful ''She said'', where the refrain absolutely tells the story of the song:''And I will always love her, And I will always care''. An emotional love song, with a beautiful flute passage a the middle of it. The rythm section screams emotions through the drummer and melodies with Les Holroyd's bass.

The second song, Happy Old world, is less convincing. The bassist tries to do too much, the drummer accomplish nothing concrete, and the flow of the lyrics is somewhat bad. The refrain is still good, but this song is definitely not a highlight.

Listening to the third song, we can definitely hear the Moody Blues influences, and this is not a bad thing. Nothing Special, but still a decent song.

Galadriel is a beautiful little song, where the orchstra was not necessarily works well at all time,but the vocal part is beautiful, and some of the symphonic side is actually excellent.

What to say about Mockingbird? Well, a beautiful, emotional, well-written and most important well-played. The bass tries to imitate The Moody Blues at some point, but it is really beautiful, and the guitar is beautiful, the orchestra works well, and the whole song is a little gem to cherish.

After the moving Mockingbird, an intelligent choice to come back with an acoustic simple song about a girl named Vanessa Simmons. Quite pleasant little folk song.

Ball and chain is more of a rocker piece wich absolutely works after the folk song.

Lady loves finishes the album, again a love song wich is a bit subpar to the album, but still enjoyable.

Overall, apart from the rythm section wich a time tries to do too much, the musiciaship is quite good.

The album taken as a whole is good, relaxed, and certainly pleasant to listen to, and while the comparison to the Moody Blues have to be made, the band finds its sounds, and delivers a class album worth of attention. 4/5

Report this review (#49476)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If justice prevailed in this world then this album would have been ranked as one of the all time classics of the music industry. Instead it achieved cult status with the Barclay's many followers and achieved critical acclaim from many music journalists from the time including me. A closer listen shows that the wonderful songs stand the test of time. Mocking Bird is simply a masterpiece of music but it would be wrong to single out one piece from this gem of an album. Listen to the gentle simplicity of the beautiful Galadriel or the elizabethan sounds of She Said. There isn't a dull moment on this album. Barclay James Harvest went on to achieve superstar status on the continent breaking concert attendance records. This album is a timely reminder of their early output that led to those halcyon days. Go out and buy the album. If you do nothing else all week, the week will have been worthwhile.
Report this review (#60820)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Once again" is the "early BJH-masterpiece" and the most essential Album they did for EMI.

"Mocking Bird", "Galadriel" and "She said" may be the most enduring classics of it in BJH-History, but the other songs are quite as convincing, too, though "Ball and chain" - as a "last minute inclusion" - may not be the best moment of the album.

Listen to the great Bass-playing in "Happy old World", enjoy the fine chords of "Vanessa Simmons", let the Lady at the end "take you by the hand"... and be amazed at how beautiful music can be.

Who'd have thought that this band would be still around 25 years later, playing "Mocking Bird" live in concert ? Thank god they made it that long, although, as you can hear on "Once Again", Woolly Wolstenholme was very important for that band and he should perhaps have stayed more "forefront" in the coming years... It's hard not to fall in love with the music and emotions on "Once Again" ! Rupert

Report this review (#66089)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Barclay James Harvest are quite hard to evaluate in terms of Prog Rock, because although they undoubtedly have the "Vibe", and with Robert Godfrey (later of The Enid) behind the knobs, the general feeling of "Once Again" is of majestrial grace - really all BJH did was to write a lot of awfully good songs (and a few bloopers).

This is not an album for those who wish to be challenged by the music, it is an album for those wind-down moments of deep relaxation, and transportation into a pillowy world of soft, yet beautifully melancholic sound.

So get yourself into the right head-space, lie back and enjoy the sublime and rich music with a core of melancholy nostalgia - and this album will take your breath away, as it is one of Barclay James Harvest's finest offerings.

Immediately we notice the nostalgic feel in the production, with washes of Mellotron, as BJH go straight into the achingly beautiful "She Said". The vocals carry a more than passing resemblance to Justin Haywards and the perfect melodic guitar solos accent the drama in the music perfectly. Underneath this, Mel Pritchard plays around with drum patterns that manage to provide a swirling maelstrom of continuity and sensitive build-up.

Everything drops away to a gorgeous little passage of mellotron, echoing the main theme, and developing the material gently, in what could vaguley pass for a symphonic manner. I don't see anyone credited with playing the recorder, but there's definitely one in there somewhere... This then passes into what could be seen as a second mini bridge, with more soloing - a little less focussed initially, but he soon finds the high notes and lets that baby rip before the chorus returns.

Overall, the construction of this piece feels quite similar to "In The Court...", but BJH do not have the musicianship to explore the music as throughly as KC - and the song does end up feeling more ballad-like than perhaps it should. However, this is fundamental to the BJH sound, and is quite magnificent in itself.

"Happy Old World" is curious because of the chorus, which breaks the spine-chilling melancholy of the verses in all but the vocals - which robs it of any of the sincerity - or more likely irony - that it might otherwise have had.

That (not insignificant) niggle aside, there are some wonderful ambient textures at work in the verses which make it worth the slight cringe in the chorus. The burn- out is especially beautiful, although waaay too short, with a delicate piano line weaving around the other shimmering keyboard sounds and Pritchard's quasi-jazzy drumming.

"Song For Dying" is classic BJH, with real power and drama in the songwriting... and a few fairly painful fluffs in the guitar. The piano-driven verses carry a vaguely Beatles- like flavour, and only BJH could make a series of major chords sound melancholy. The wash of vocal harmonies and Mellotron with walking bass lines feeding into the fade- out at the end is masterly in dynamic and emotional chill factor.

"Galadriel" rounds off side one of the vinyl nicely, with a picked guitar intro, Mellotron and strings driving an arcing melody that just resonates with the soul. I find the trumpets in the orchestral backing a little baffling initially, but the orchestration generally is masterful, and way beyond the half-hearted mess that accompanies the Moodies' "A Question of Balance".

Side 2 kicks off with the very best track on the album - and one of the best songs in BJH's entire catalogue.

"Mockingbird" is a song that you NEED to hear, Proghole!

Godfrey's orchestration is out of this world, Holroyd pens one of the greatest melodies of all time, and that burn-out is a masterpiece in itself. This song is a masterpiece of Prog Rock, even if the album as a whole isn't.

"Vanessa Simmons" is a kind of low point in terms of Prog - it's just a harmless little acoustic song, and certainly not the lowest point on this album... It fits in well - it's certainly no "No Fool Me", but it's pleasant, relaxing and part of the BJH soundscape.

"Ball and chain" is more like it - it appears to be loosely modelled on the Janis Joplin song, and is interesting because of that, as well as being a very interesting composition, with more drive and ROCK than the previous offerings. The vocalist shows that he can do blues as well as plain melancholy, there some nice walking bass lines, plenty of space in the arrangements and some nice blues-flavoured workouts with the trademark BJH sound coming through strongly.

"Lady loves" wraps up the album, with a peculiar Coutry and Western flavour... Now while I'm not a fan of C&W by any stretch of the imagination, I suppose it shows BJH experimenting with different styles, if nothing else...

This is where I normally stop the album, as "Lady Loves" is quite horrible, in my opinion, and derivative of several songs that I could list, but won't, as I've rambled on for too long as usual, and this song is not worth spending any time on.

In summary, a great album of somewhat simplistic Prog but utterly masterful songwriting and arrangement, let down by one major turkey of a song and a few flaws in some of the others. These other flaws may safely be considered as the flaws in a diamond, however, and you can always press "stop", or program out the last track...

Report this review (#67004)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 Just!

Just scraping the lead over The Moody Blues' 'To our Children's Children's Children'. This seems more involving than the above, perhaps through the greater level of melancholy in the music.

'She Said' is of course a classic BJH track, piercing guitar and rattling drums, contrasted with the down-hearted quiet section afterwards, which again elevates towards the end with impressive guitar work with the same piercing tone. 'Galadriel' is more orchestral with a quieter feel, the orchestra giving very nice depth. 'Happy old World' is not one of my favourites due to the chorus, although the bass work is very nice.

'Song for Dying' has that same piercing guitar tone, and is one my favourite tracks with very nice piano. The vocals are relaxing yet powerful, the odd bit of bass is effective with the accompanying drumbeat and the track is overall very textured. 'Mocking Bird' is again orientated around orchestra, but the repetition can get. repetitive. This fades and a powerful menacing instrumental kicks in. The orchestra is left to finish the track.

'Vanessa Simmons' is very lyrical, composing simply of an acoustic guitar and harmonic vocals. The music is well structured and variant. Overall, the album is very good, and due to some classic examples, scrapes the status of a masterpiece.

Report this review (#75954)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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!

Report this review (#85545)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Incredible but true! Yes, I'm reviewing the Barclay James Harvest's classic masterpiece! Never did it before 'cause I simply didn't found the words, maybe...

It's not easy for me to express and to explain why and how much I love this important english band. I know for sure that the fact they were (and are) unjustly accused of being a Moody Blues' clone did impress me deeply since the very first experience I had with them, through the unlucky (but adventurous) album "Baby James Harvest".

Their typical EMI's sound is based on a fruitful mix between pastoral structure within a strong symphonic vein builded upon the interesting interplay between Woolly Wolstenholme's mighty mellotron and an appreciable use of a true symphonic orchestra.

Once Again is the definitive BJH's album from their earlier period, generally regarded as the best one. It contains their timeless classics: "Mockingbird", "She Said" and "Galadriel".

It's difficult for me to explain what I feel listening to such an opus. The general mood is pompous and melodic. Guitarist John Lees definitely abandon any embarassement and starts to sing and to play his electric guitar within his unique distorted and nervous sound.

This is where bassist Les Holroyd writes one of the most powerful and convincing intros ever: "She Said", a song that origined from two original recordings then mixed for the best result and for our great pleasure.

"Mockingbird" is...well...stunning, pompous and dramatic. A continuous guitar's riff crossing the immense and powerful waves of such a big symphonic orchestra.

"Galadriel" (obviously inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) is simply a little gem. They did the job, perfectly. Magic, symphonic pleasure enriched by a delicate brass' section and polite guitar's arpeggio. Above all the mellow vocals of John Lees.

The other tracks are all highlights, in my opinion. From the environmentalist Wolstenholme's "Happy Old World" to the acoustic sad ballad "Vanessa Simmons". "Song for Dying" is another special favourite of mine starting with warm vocals and soft classic piano and then exploding into that screaming electric guitar, courtesy of John Lees. Possibly another immortal tune.

The last two tracks are also worthy of special mention: the strong "Ball and Chain" which is also the hardest rock number here with Wolstenholme's apparently sophisticated vocals' effects made, simply, singing through a paper cup. The romantic closer "Lady Loves" features the important contribution of a certain (then simple a young tape operator) ALAN PARSON who plays jaw harp.

The remastered reissue contents five interesting bonus tracks: two unreleased tunes and three quadrophonic remixes of "Happy Old World", "Ball and Chain" and "Vanessa Simmons".

A wonderful album. Their most consistent one from the EMI's era. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#110879)
Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a great improvement in comparison with their first album ! BJH sounds here as they will do for several years. This is very nice symphonic prog music. Of course, no complex tracks, no intricate lyrics. No, what you'll get here is very pleasant music.

I mentioned in my review of their first album, that since I discovered them with their great "BJH Live", I did not really bother to buy their back catalogue (with only one exception). So, a few years ago, I purchased a double packaged and remastered CD with "Once Again " and "Baby James Harvest". A bargain, with lots of bonus umbers.

This album opens of one of preferred song of the band : "She Said". It is a pure jewel of symphonic music. Extremely beautiful and captivating. Keyboards and guitar are so emotionally played.

"Happy Old World" explores again some of the sounds of their debut album. Great verse with a very light mellotron in the back, the chorus is rather childish yet psychedelic. Very nice and peaceful piano to close the song. Jhon Lees has discovered his so unique guitar sound and which is so passionate. We'll get another example with "Song for Dying". A simple song, a bit mellow but with great vocal touches, and short guitar breaks. The final minute reminds KC and is very much ITCOTCK oriented. A tranquil song.

"Galadriel" is another of the very nice songs of this rather good album so far. One critic might be the use of some orchestrations (like on their debut album). I am not sure that these horns were necessary. The melody is just superb.

How much I have loved the next song ! Another jewel of harmony, sweetness, beauty and tranquility. The rhythm catches a bit at half time, but again the orchestration are useless. "Mocking Bird" is another typical BJH song. With these type of songs, BFH has definitely gain my admiration (but no adulation of course. Remember : no more heroes).

The last three numbers of this very good album will not be on par (but I admit it was not easy). "Vanessa Simmons" especially is the weakest number of the album. A folkish and passionless song. On the contrary, "Ball and Chain" is the heaviest song of the album (but do not expect a Purple song while reading this comment). It is a blues-rock oriented song, which brings a bit a diversity in this very quiet album. Something necessary, I guess.

Back again to the subtle and light music with "Lady Loves". Just another pleasant tune closing this melancholic album quite nicely, I must say.

The remastered version holds three "quad" version of existing numbers : "Happy Old World", "Vanessa Simmons" and "Ball and Chain". Since I do not own such equipment, I cannot really judge of the improvement. There will be a short and orchestral number which is rather useless and a "live" track called "Too Much On Your Plate". Again a blues- rock number in its start; with nice vocal arragements that Crosby, Stills and Nash wouldn't have denied.

Several BJH classic here, some good numbers as well. All in all a VERY pleasant album.

This second album holds all the BJH characteristics that will please their fans so much. They are delivering very accessible but beautiful music. Nothing complicated, just straight forward compositions. At least they have defined their own style and sound in this album (which was not the case in their debut one which was almost 100 % influenced by the Fab Four).

Even if some might find their work a bit "short", BJH belonged to one of my preferred band of the mid-seventies and I guess that lots of nostalgia invades me when I listen to those numbers. But these orchestrations are really too much.

Four stars.

Report this review (#120025)
Posted Saturday, April 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars When BJH went head to head with the Moody Blues in the early 70s, artistically if not commercially, they compared favourably in that they could rock harder and more convincingly than the Moodys, and their lyrics, while not terribly poetic, were more earthy.

The venomous angst of John Lees' classic "She Said" immediately establishes the band's style in a way that the debut could not: slow paced vocals contrasting with diverse instrumental passages featuring impressive guitars and mellotrons. "Happy Old World" is mostly a plod rock tune that overstays its welcome, but the chorus does have some staying power. BJH was capable of dramatic vocal harmonies too, especially in the majestic "Song for Dying", which was perhaps their first of several excellent anti-war songs. The buildup to the vocal climax of the song is an emotional high for BJH, before it settles into a contemplative mellotron close.

"Galadriel" and "Mocking Bird" are 2 more classics for this album, the first being a gentle Lees love song in which his voice floats above the mellotron and acoustic guitars, the second being a two part epic, one part mysterious allegory about love, the other an orchestral free for all that sounded better on subsequent live versions than here. Again, the band knows how to come down from the bombast to return the listener to a gentle reprise of the main theme.

"Vanessa Simmons" is an intimate song featuring mostly Lees voice and acoustic guitar, and shows how the band, and Lees in particular, straddled the boundaries of folk, a tendency that remained throughout the 70s. "Ball and Chain" is BJH doing what they do worst, and usually once an album, the hard rock song. "Lady Loves" is a lovely almost C&W closer featuring one Alan Parsons on Jew's Harp".

I am ambivalent about whether to round up or down, but ultimately settle on a very strong 4 stars, and certainly the best studio album from Barclay James Harvest while on their eponymous label.

Report this review (#132344)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

ONCE AGAIN, the second BJH album follows in the footsteps of their self titled debut with its beautiful melodies, mellotron trenched tunes, gorgeous harmonies but with less emphasis on the orchetra which can be really heard on one track, the BJH signature song, the majestic MOCKINGBIRD.

ONCE AGAIN is one of those albums, you listen to quietly at home relaxing on your sofa with a good glass of wine and good company feeling good about you and your life. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST is not a band for angry people or rebels!! They play pretty music with a pastoral athmosphere, looking for beauty making you feel great. Listening to BJH doesn't remind you of the sad suburbs of BIRMINGHAM or LIVERPOOL, you just get a pretty picture of the quaint English countryside. At least, that's the way i feel.

The album opens with the beautiful 8 mns synphonic ballad SHE SAID penned by JOHN LEES. This is a beautiful trip full of beautiful mellotron parts, a dramatic vocal performance counter-balanced by an aggressive guitar (yes, it happens sometimes) but everything mix perfectly and when you reach the flute solo interlude, you are ready to enter heaven! This track is still performed nowadays by the band and is really their first ''classic''

More heaven is on the way with the following wonderful songs like HAPPY OLD WORLD, SONG FOR DYING and the gorgeous GALADRIEL. This is when BJH transform everything they create into magic. Such strong beautiful melodies with great arrangements. There is nothing adventurous about the band, it's not about instrumental virtuosity and showing off their skills, this is just about finding the right cute note and place it where it should be to make sure the whole song sounds beautiful.

MOCKINGBIRD is one of their most enduring anthems; there is no concert even in 2007 when this song is not performed; that's no-no like The Rolling Stones not performing SATISFACTION or Santana BLACK MAGIC WOMEN. This is grandiose, dramatic even pompous , a poster song every prog hater would love to use as an example to discredit prog music. For me, it's just plain beautiful as Knights in white Satin is for the Moodies.

What prevents me to give the full 5 star treatment to ONCE AGAIN is the ending of this album as the last 3 songs sound more ''ordinary'' than all what precede. This is not fair for VANESSA SIMMONS a nice acoustic ballad, BALL AND CHAIN a curious ''hard'' rocker and the sweet LADY LOVES as they are good songs in their own ways, but sound subpar compared to the heights reached by the first 5 fantastic tracks. For example, LOVE AND ChAIN sound a little bit our of place with its hardrockish guitar riff in the middle of this relaxing lush athmosphere, but that's a good tune anyway .

We have been used so far to so much lush orchestrations before than when you listen to VANESSA SIMMONS and LADY LOVES, these 2 songs sound quite ''naked'' , stripped to the minimun with their only acoustic guitar accompaniement. Other listeners might think it's a nice way to end the album or open wider horizons to this album. I guess it's just a question of personal taste, so i let you judge.

ONCE AGAIN is an album that should be included in any serious prog collection; BJH is not a challenging band, this is the light side of prog, but also a beautiful side. If you are looking for gorgeous melodies with delicate arrangements, this is the band for you. If you are looking for weird musical experiments, please move on!


Report this review (#139480)
Posted Friday, September 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is often stated that producing a second album with equal quality as a succesful debut is quite hard. Well, that turned out to be totally false with 'Once again', the second BJH album. With this album they achieved one of their finest moments in their long career and set a standard for quality for many years to come. There are simply no weak songs on this splendid album, all songs are quite different but together they make a master piece. It immediately starts off well with 'She said', a long and very varied song. The band shows that they can rock, that they can be classical (a recorder solo in the middle section) and that they can work perfectly with an orchestra. This song is still one of the best they ever recorded. And it worked well live too (listen to their first live album). 'Happy old world' is surely quite classical, with Wolstenholme's keyboards leading the music, mellow and nice, developing into the electric piano coda. The lyrics don't make you feel too good because of their cynism but that is actually one of the things I like most in this song. 'Song for dying' expresses in its title exactly what I don't like to do when listening to the music. It starts off with a beautiful vocal line, backed by sparse keyboards, nicely developing into the chorus that really sounds like an outburst in which three of the band members sing, supported by Lees' fierce guitar. It surely gives me the shivers every time I listen to it, it is far too beautiful to start dying! 'Galadriel' is the first song that was written by an individual member of the band, guitarist John Lees. Of course it is inspired by Tolkiens novel and it surely pays credit to that phenomenal work of literature. Because this nice little song is so melodic, so beautiful, so romantic that the listener can very well imagine that he is amongst lovely and loving creatures. The original b-side of the album started off with the real BJH classic 'Mocking bird'. It still is a classic as it still sounds great. It is in fact quite a simple song with definitely a simple text but it works so well, the melody sticks into your head, the orchestra just fills in so perfectly, that the song never fails to impress. 'Vanessa Simmonds' is a very nice, small piece of enjoyable music, with acoustic guitars and a well sung vocal line. 'Ball and chain' shows the rocking side of BJH, with loud vocals (by BJH standards that is), fierce guitar chords and a very rock 'n roll feeling in general. The original album closes with another nice little piece, 'The lady loves' which is another beautiful ballad. It also introduces the then unknown Alan Parsons on mouth harp, an instrument never used again by the band but in this song very well done. Later on John Lees would tell us (on the Welcome to the show' album) that he played John Lennon's guitar during the recording sessions of this song, one of his all time heroes.

In spite of the rerelease of their debut album which contained loads of interesting bonus tracks this rerelease contains only a sparse number of those, two of which are actually not that interesting at all because they are quad mixes (and who possesses such a sound system nowadays) that add little to the original. Only two bonus tracks are really worthwhile ('White ships' and 'Too much on my plate') because they had never been released before. Yet the album in itself was and still is a classic. Therefore a five star, no doubt about that!

Report this review (#158669)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Once Again" is Barclay James Harvest's classic second album, recorded in 1971. It is a brilliant album, criminally underrated by the rock press but universally loved by their fans, irrespective of the era during which they actually came to know the band.

It contains some timeless classics, of course: there's the brilliant "Mocking Bird" - heard here in its original form with Robert Godfrey's vibrant orchestral arrangement - the song which was to become one of the band's best loved and an ever present in the live set (they're still performing it now!); the gorgeously atmospheric and peaceful "Galadriel", also performed with the orchestra and also still to be heard live today; and the powerful opener "She Said", which brings the album to life with its powerful guitar chords and catchy chorus before introducing a beautifully melodic recorder (yes, recorder!) solo, which leads into a stirring lead guitar solo from John Lees as the song once more builds to a crescendo in the finale. Stirring stuff!

The melodic writing is first class and is the thread that unites these songs together, whether they be rocky, like "Ball and Chain", tending towards folky like "Vanessa Simmons " and "Lady Loves" (which features Alan Parsons guesting on jews harp) or the orchestral numbers already mentioned.

The album also features a couple of "conscience" songs, something that would become a trademark of BJH with at least one such number featuring on most of their studio albums. On this album we have an "environmental" song, "Happy Old World", with its clever key change in the chorus, and "Song for Dying", a short but powerful anti-war song - both were to be recurring themes in BJH's long history.

It would be wrong not to mention Norman Smith's excellent production of the album - BJH always benefited from having a strong producer overseeing their work and the fact that this album of diverse songs sounds such a cohesive piece of work is surely down to Norman.

It's a splendid album - if you're new to the band then buy it without hesitation! The sound on this remastered recording is excellent. The many bonus tracks add a certain interest but should be listened to separately from the album itself as they don't really fit in with the heavenly experience of the original.

Report this review (#162569)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second album from Barclay James Harvest called Once Again is another great pop/ rock album with slight progressive tendencies. The debut album was a really great collection of songs that I enjoy listening to on occasion and Once Again continues the style that was started on the debut. The best thing about Barclay James Harvest IMO is their beautiful melodies, they are really exceptionally melodic.

The music is not overtly progressive but there are progressive tendencies like orchestral arrangements and symphonic moments. Especially songs like She Said and Mocking Bird have beautiful orchestral arrangements. The songs are generally mellow and emotional but there is one rocker on the album. Ball & Chain is a great rock song reminding me of the few rock songs on the debut album. Ball & Chain helps the album to be a bit more diverse.

The musicians are good and play with emotional debth. I really like John Lees guitar which is very present compared to many other prog rock bands from that time. Mel Pritchard´s drumming is also very good. I like his thunderous playing in the more intense moments in the songs. I don´t know much about Barclay James Harvest and as both John Lees and Les Holroyd are credited with lead vocals I´m not sure who sings when but the vocals are generally an enjoyable experience and way above average.

The sound quality isn´t the greatest but it has it´s charm and I like it. The productions from the sixties and early seventies where the drums are only heard in one speaker and the other instruments in the other does have a certain charm that music today doesn´t. This is an aquired taste of course.

I think Barclay James Harvest have made a really excellent prog rock album here and again they show that they are very accomplished melody makers. I have to be in the right mood to fully appreciate Once Again though as it can get a bit cheesy at times, but the beautiful melodies saves them every time. 4 stars is a matter of course for this excellent album.

Report this review (#163164)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Anonymous Two

Once Again is a very good title for this second album by Barclay James Harvest. Once again they give us their brand of symphonic rock inspired by The Beatles, The Moody Blues and Procol Harum with a slight Folk rock influence. However, Once Again contains some of Barclay James Harvest's best and strongest classic songs like Mockingbird, Galadriel and She Said.

Barclay James Harvest were never truly groundbreaking, they were never pioneers of anything. The Mellotron had been used by other bands before them and the use of symphony orchestras in a rock setting had also been utilized. However, Barclay James Harvest did write some good material in their early days. It is hardly a coincidence that on a recently released live DVD (of the band performing live in London in 2006), material from the Harvest years (the bands first four albums) together with their fifth - Everyone Is Everybody Else - makes up the vast majority of the set list.

What Barclay James Harvest did not have, however, was a sound of their own; a unique musical identity. Rather they had a pretty anonymous sound that was also very inoffensive and mellow. The only song that rocks hard on this album is Ball And Chain, which probably is the least good one too. Somehow, this band were unable to rock out without sounding strained and uncomfortable.

Overall, Once Again is a very good early prog album and the best example of what Barclay James Harvest were all about in their very early days. Therefore, this is a perfect starting point if you want to investigate this band (together with the debut and Everyone Is Everybody Else). However, there are lots and lots of other bands that deserve your attention before you turn your attention towards Barclay James Harvest.

Good, but non-essential.

Report this review (#176863)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars In very few occasions I have witnessed such an improvement in so little time, from the weak and predictable "Barclay James Harvest" to the strong and dramatic "Once Again", seem to have passed four or five years and not only a few months, because the band not only found their path, but they improved in every field.

"She said" opens the album with a lot of drama, a heavy dense atmosphere proper of late Proto Prog albums with strong Psyche connections, Woolly Wolstenholme's keyboard sound much more mature and sentimental. After a frantic first section, a soft medieval flute break, prepares us for the grand finale, where the band hits us with all they have, simply amazing.

"Happy Old World" begins dense and Baroque, but soon changes into a soft melody, the difference with the first album is that the softer tunes are very interesting and with a more elaborate sound, no pre Psyche references, the band has entered into Prog territory with all their heart and soul, even the Hammond sounds more advanced than most of their peers and John Less seems another person with a more varied repertoire.

"Song for Dying" as the name indicates is very emotional with a fantastic piano and guitar enhancing the atmosphere, some moments aggressive in others breathtaking but always melancholic, of the ballads from the debut album were naïve and predictable, here are strong and dramatic.

"Galadriel" is so evocative that almost brings tears to my eyes, the orchestral addition is simply outstanding, despite the fact that "Galadriel" is a very simple song, doesn't affect its beauty. Another high point.

"Mockingbird" is a classic, a song that has absolutely everything, beautiful melody, strong atmosphere, but they don't stop there, the orchestra is breathtaking and the radical changes are nothing less than perfect. A masterpiece for any person who loves music.

"Vanessa Sinunons" is probably the weakest track of the album, a bit in the vein of the previous but at least here they have the excuse that it's acoustic and sounds very pretty.

"Ball and Chain" is another radical change, very aggressive and sensual, reminds me a bit of a softer version of LED ZEPPELIN with excellent keyboards and guitar sections, not what we could expect in the beginning of the album, but they put everything on this track.

"Lady Loves" again is a change, a bit of Country influences with Rock in ballad presentation, not as good as Mocking Bird, but still very good.

What a change from my last BJH review and the rating must also change, four solid stars. Wish it would had been 5 stars but despite it's close to be a masterpiece, still something is missing to reach that status.

I recommend this album without any doubt despite the modest popularity it gained, it's an underrated gem that deserved much more.

Report this review (#185083)
Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Second album and the artwork presenting a small section of their predecessor's artwork was leading us to fear the worst. Unsubstantiated fears though, as Once Again is a significant improvement over their poor debut album; and not because of two hits, but a general much-increase f everything, especially in the songwriting dept, which is evident by having four tracks written by BJH, while the rest are single writers.

Right from the first notes of She Said, you're wondering if indeed this is the same BJH band that had started so poorly the year before. Indeed, the 8-mins opener pulls some Vanilla Fudge-like drama (Pritchard's drumming is superb here, although not well-recorded) with some Moody Blues vocals harmonies. After a clam mid-section, the group comes back with fervour to close the song in a thrilling manner. Excellent and probably BJH's best track, but we're hardly talking masterpiece here, more of a minor classic, at best. The following Happy Old World starts with a short intro that reminds me of the Swiss group Circus's first line in Dawn (some six years later), but it stops there. This song is an average track for the present album, but it would be a highlight on the previous debut album. The following Song For Dying has loud fuzzed guitars, but I find it quite average, although I bet I'm in a minority on this one. Definitely the album's sonic peak, this abrasive rocker has uninventive chorus lines. I might appear a little tough with the last two tracks I mentioned, but I've spent years telling the people that this album is over-rated, because songs like these are generally likeable but nothing out of the ordinary.

The strings arrangements on Galadriel are so heavy that it crushes the original melody and reduces it to laughable excuse for using their orchestra. We're now reaching the group's first classic track, the charming Mocking Bird, a track that starts out really superbly on Lees' guitar underlined by Holroyd superb bass, with delightful vocals on rather overly simple lyrics. Unfortunately as the track goes on further it is gradually eaten up by the orchestra and quickly the great simple song grows in a cheese fondue for Gibraltar's garrisons, but the original melody manages to survive until its overstayed welcome has reached its end. The closing Hackettian guitar does give a substance to this average orchestra performance. The gritty Ball and Chain is a welcome change, with loud guitar, bluesy riff, a great underlining organ, sometimes reminiscent of Floyd's ATM track (of the same year) with some Gilmour-like sounds on guitar and some Wright-organ layers. The soporific Lady Loves and the unremarkable Vanessa are just fillers, but compared to the debut album, they'd be just.. Fillers as well.

While Once again IS a great improvement on the debut album, and this might just be BJH's better album (among the early ones anyway) we're still a far cry from a prog classic album and there is no way this deserves more than three stars, no matter what my (not-so, this time) trusted colleagues will tell you in their own words.

Report this review (#185106)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece. Beginning with a tender, humble, guitar arpeggio, the song starts as a gentle love song, a genuine love song, tinged with a definite bittersweet melancholy. Gradually strings and horns fade into consciousness, ebbing and flowing like waves of feeling, but giving the piece a growing sense of scale, a sense which rises into a sudden sweeping crescendo of powerful layered strings and vocals, with a majestic guitar line thrown in for good measure. 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the track doesn't set the tone of the album, instead standing out like a shining professional in a team of fairly snotty-nosed gawky teenagers on a team of [insert team sport of your choice] players. The resplendent marriage of sweeping orchestration and honest folk-rock of 'Mockingbird' barely raises its head anywhere else on the album, which is instead populated with rough sounding by-the-numbers rock staples. The band never sound at ease with these lesser tracks, so it is a great shame that the album is padded with them when they could clearly do so much better.

The opener, 'She Said', sets the tone of the album. Clearly harbouring pretensions of being a sweeping orchestral epic, it only really succeeds in being a rock song with some string fills between the chords, and one that goes on too long. It isn't bad; it just feels a wasted opportunity. 'Happy Old World' and 'Ball and Chain' are much worse, being a failed attempt at an eco-anthem and a blues hard rocker respectively, both of which end up sounding a little embarrassing. It isn't all gloom, 'Galadriel' grows into a very prettily textured piece, and 'Song for the Dying' has an odd charm. But overall, as an album, it really fails to hang together and is a disappointment given the band's clear talent.

But then again, 'Mockingbird' is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#226486)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars BJH's Once Again represents a vast improvement upon the band's listless debut album. Released a year later, in 1971, the songwriting has matured and Lees joins Holroyd and Wolstenholme in handling vocal duties. The BJH orchestra remains in residence, but generally speaking the orchestral arrangements are more tasteful this time around.

From the opening pitch-bend Mellotron of She Said you instantly know this will be a classic track. Raw, jagged fuzz guitar, busy drumming and stirring Mellotron get the album started in dramatic fashion. A quiet interlude halfway through this opening song features John Lees playing an Elizabethan-type melody on recorder, before the main part of the song repeats and is then rounded off with a typically aggressive guitar solo from Lees. This track alone blows anything from their first album right out of the water. Happy Old World begins in quiet, subdued manner before building to a psyche-sounding chorus featuring various keyboards (piano, organ, Mellotron). Song For Dying is an anti-war song, a theme that BJH would return to on successive albums. It contains a typical Lees soaring guitar melody backed by Mellotron; there are some Crosby, Stills and Nash type vocals in here as well. Another great song. The first half of the album closes with Galadriel, a tender ballad with gentle guitar and Mellotron. Sadly the orchestration is a bit heavy handed on this song, with the brass sounding especially incongruous on a pastoral ballad... surely woodwinds would have produced a better effect?

Mocking Bird begins the second half in atmospheric manner with guitar, bass and orchestral strings. Pizzicato strings and orchestral percussion mimic the sound of the mocking bird wonderfully... at least that's what I imagine listening to the song. The song develops and around the four minute mark we get that great guitar solo. Really this track should require no introduction as it's arguably BJH's most famous song. The album peters out a bit after Mocking Bird; well, anything else would tend to be an anti-climax after that song. Vanessa Simmons is a pleasant enough acoustic ballad. Ball And Chain is a slow blues-psyche workout, while Lady Loves is a country-tinged song featuring some piano- playing that is bordering on honky tonk!

Once Again is one of those albums that falls somewhere between good and excellent, and has induced much head-scratching on my part in trying to award an accurate rating. I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and go for 4 stars, with the caveat that I am an avid BJH fan. I would recommend non-fans to start with the 1974 live album.

Report this review (#258903)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars My introduction album to the sound of of Barclay James Harvest is a definite improvement to their debut release. I'm not only talking about the great compositions like Mocking Bird but the whole album in general has a dark and shadowy mood to it which I really like and it ultimately results in a feeling of consistency for me.

It's interesting that many reviews favor She Said since I've never really been a huge fan of that particular work for reasons that are unknown to me. I guess the track never managed to ignite that certain feeling that I have towards many of the other songs featured here.

This album marks one of the few occasions where Woolly Wolstenholme would get two of his compositions featured on a studio album and next time won't be until XII which also marked his last album with the band.

After all my praise I still hesitate to think of this album as an essential release for everyone since it only marked a step in the right direction, a potential, and there is still a great deal of improved to be made on later releases. Overall it's a solid introduction album to the early Barclay James Harvest-sound that everyone should listen to at least once!

***** star songs: Mocking Bird (6:38) Vanessa Simmons (3:45)

**** star songs: She Said (8:19) Happy Old World (4:39) Galadriel (3:14) Ball And Chain (4:48) Lady Loves (3:57)

*** star songs: Song For Dying (5:01)

Report this review (#260200)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST's second album released in 1971. This is a favourite for many of their fans out there. While I only have a few of their albums this is my favourite of those.

"She Said" is my favourite track off this album and best song i've heard from them period. Drums and mellotron to start as vocals join in. I really like the prominant electric guitar on this one. Nice bass before 2 minute too. It turns pastoral then kicks back in before 6 minutes.The guitar is great. "Happy Old World" features reserved vocals early. A full sound 1 1/2 minutes in. Organ 3 minutes in followed by piano. "Song For Dying" is a top three for me. Piano and fragile vocals to open. It sounds excellent when it kicks in with guitar. Contrasts continue.

"Galadriel" features some orchestral sounds that i'm not into. "Mocking Bird" opens with gentle guitar as light drums and laid back vocals join in. Orchestral sounds before 2 minutes. "Vanessa Simmons" is led by acoustic guitar and vocals. It's kind of folky. "Ball And Chain" is the other top three tune for me. A heavier sound here with guitar. The vocals are more passionate too. "Lady Loves" is another laid back folky track.

Well it certainly has it's moments but I can't give anything more then 3 stars.

Report this review (#284775)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars BJH was one of the most surprising encounters for me on Prog Archives. As far a I remembered the band was a 70s pop act and the exact opposite of what I thought Prog was about. So I snatched some BJH away from the library. Only to find my opinion largely confirmed by them.

The album opens nicely though, with a very mellow type of symphonic rock, complete with romantic orchestration and bitter-sweet pleasing melodies. The sharp guitar soloing gives everything a bit of an edge and creates a nice balance where the mellowness fits in just right. At least it does on this opening track.

With Happy Old World we're off for a couple of dreary 70s cliché ballads. Imagine Simon and Gartfunkel doing mellow country tunes and crooners and you're close. I guess a song like Mocking Bird has some redeeming qualities but even for someone that is completely disinterested in lyrics like me, the words here are so clumsy that I can't enjoy this at all. Vanessa Simmons is a pretty campfire tune, Ball and Chain an average soft-blues song and Lady Loves another syrupy crooner to conclude.

I'll conclude with a 'good' rating as it's not a bad album, but actually I don't care much for these tunes except for the opener.

Report this review (#299014)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Barclay James Harvest's second album probably represents their finest hour. The well- experience quartet of musicians had gelled quite well at this point and were quite accomplished individually, with all but drummer Mel Pritchard contributing at least one original composition each and with producer the late Norman Smith (Pink Floyd, the Beatles) providing a skilled hand in the studio along with Robert John Godfrey's always spectacular orchestral accompaniment.

The use of orchestral accompaniment along with often folksy undertones and Les Holroyd and John Lees' wistful vocals have always drawn comparisons to the Moody Blues circa the same period, and while they certainly owe a debt BJH's music is noticeably more pensive and dark than most of that on the big-seven Moodies albums, although the emotional, relationship-inspired themes are often similar.

Many of the 'classic' BJH songs come from this album, most notably the 'She Said', 'Galadriel' and 'Mockingbird' with their grand orchestral arrangements, lush mellotron and (for the period) rather innovative melding of softer rock conventions which come across as almost pop at times, along with classical interludes and a uniquely English ability to make contemporary music sound timeless.

'Mockingbird' has held up particularly well over the years, a bit surprising considering musical differences over this arrangement are what led Godfrey to depart in 1972. Ultimately of course he formed his own band the Enid, an orchestral-centered group that took the bonding of classical and rock music further than BJH could have possibly envisioned when they recorded 'Once Again' in late 1970.

On the other hand the band shows a glimpse of the musical variety so prevalent on their first album with the near-ballad 'Vanessa Simmons', a laconic, sappy acoustic number that I suppose may have been written as a tribute by John Lees to the child of someone he knew; then again maybe not, but that's my impression. This one comes off an awful lot like a James Taylor number which makes it an odd inclusion on the album although it's a decent enough song on its own merits. 'Ball and Chain' is another strange inclusion with sort of a bluesy guitar riff and harder, more conventional rock rhythm that is unlike much of anything else they did in the early seventies. This is also one of only two of the late "Woolly" Wolstenholme's tunes on the record, the other being the more ethereal 'Happy Old World' though that one also has a fairly conventional refrain to go along with the spacey keyboards.

In all this is a very solid album and very representative of the Barclay James Harvest sound despite the comparatively weak 'Vanessa Simmons' and 'Ball and Chain'. I've seen this album on a lot of 'greatest records' and 'must hear' lists over the years and while I agree it's a must-hear, I can't go quite far enough to call it a masterpiece. Easily four stars out of five though, and a must-have for just about any progressive rock fan. Highly recommended for those reasons.


Report this review (#390533)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Once Again is one of those rare albums that moved me the first time I heard it, which was about 20 minutes ago.I always stayed away from the band, because of the Light Prog label, I also heard if you don't care much for the Moody's, you probably won't like BJH. What a mistake that was, This is a stunningly beautiful album, that shimmers with the finest symphonic elements, I did not think this was light prog at all, I suppose the lead guitar with a bight has something to do with that. I feel as if the music is in between The Moody's and Crimson in style. Closer to the Moody's of course. but not light weight at all. I took a gamble finding a vinyl copy for 7 bucks, might be the best deal this year. cool cover art too. As I re spin Once Again I am thinking how BJH beat the Moody Blues at their own game. If you like the softer King Crimson numbers or the best of the Moody's I can't see why you wouldn't like this.
Report this review (#561842)
Posted Thursday, November 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sounding like any other 'Progressive' album, caught in the transition period between the late 60's and the early 70's, I feel that it's an 'almost' album, because it lacks that final 'edge'. Yes, it sounds dated, but then unless they're exceptional, they all do!

Maybe as a package it fails. I mean the first track virtually stops dead in the middle, pretty much before we've even got going! And not one of the other tracks on the album would be lively enough as an alternative opener...

Maybe that explains why BJH never made the big time. Their sound is too subdued. It lacks excitement or dynamism. It needs more of a spark!

Despite this, there are some good songs to listen too here. BUT, I feel that it all ends after track 5 (Mockingbird). So, 5 tracks and no opener? As I say, not enough in the package. Obviously, 'Mockingbird' is a fantastic song, whilst 'Galadriel' is a strong effort too.

It seems hardly fair to review an album so long after its creation, but then I can only apply my logic to what I hear now. The songwriting is probably good enough to make me want to hear some later material. Maybe the album 'Everyone is everybody else'.

If you've not heard 'Mockingbird', or even 'Galadriel', then these two songs are definitely worth a listen.

Report this review (#583984)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Once Again" is a vintage classic. Recorded in late-1970, it of course retains a certain charm and beauty that could have only been captured during its time. When it comes to the sound on the album, it's agreed that there are many nods towards Moody Blues' classic era, mostly due to the atmospheric keyboards and mellotron work. But as another reviewer said, there are other edges to this music too, including the similar bittersweet qualities from early King Crimson.

"She Said" is the great opener, and talking of edge the hard-rock guitar here is very powerful over some of the other gentle arrangements. It's nice how this piece has a tranquil middle section with flute to calm the nerves before crashing back to the powerful verse lead-chorus. "Happy Old World" is another strong piece with some dark lyrics touching on the environment. The keyboards are quite eerie here.

These songs are catchy as well as melodic. They are melancholic too, while still being soft, pleasant and comfy, especially the following "A Song For Dying", a very emotional anti-war song. "Galadriel" and "Mockingbird" are definitely two personal favourites with Robert Godfrey's orchestral arrangements adding to the glory. "Mockingbird" really is the most stunning and majestic of all. The edgy guitar appears towards the end as well. This is a brilliant fusion of rock, folk and classical styles.

There are some mellow moments towards the end. "Vanessa Simmons" is a lovely folky acoustic song. The last two pieces on the original release "Ball And Chain" and "Lady Loves" aren't quite as good as the others but still very likeable, particularly the latter. Wonderful album this! Four solid stars.

Report this review (#641927)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A very good album by an artist I was never really into as they seemed too mainstream for my tastes. This is perhaps their most commercial album with the famous hit single Mockingbird and in fact the song is the only one many would have heard such is its infamy, in the same way that many might consider Procol Harum to have only one hit with Whiter Shade of Pale. Mockingbird has an infectious melody and is difficult to get out of the head once heard.

Of course there is more on "Once Again" to revel in such as the glorious She Said, and very beautiful Galadriel. Ball And Chain is also worth a listen with some excellent riffs from Lees. The keyboard work of Wolstenholme is exceptional especially when he plays the Mellotron. The vocals are always easy on the ears and the whole album is quite a pleasant early 70s blast from the past. I would suggest it is the best of Barclay James Harvest and of course many might consider it to be a masterpiece. I am not so convinced as to that status but it deserves 3 stars for the two or three excellent songs.

Report this review (#874003)
Posted Sunday, December 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars A classic and often hailed as BJH's best work to date, "Once Again" was remastered in 2002 and this is the version that caught my attention as I looked to familiarise myself with them.

Originally released in 1971, it is no surprise that this album is covered by a general veil of psychedelia, even if this expressed through the softest of approaches, quite often pop. The closest act that comes to mind is certainly The Moody Blues, where this album shares the "nostalgic" late 60's feeling to the nth degree.

Eight compositions and another five (although three are simply different takes/versions) comprise this release, the majority based on very slow tempos - actually many of them can be simply described as sophisticated pop-rock (and possibly proto-prog) ballads. The one element that stands out is Holroyd's work on the bass lines, easily the proggiest aspect of "Once Again", that otherwise does not show any sign of outright innovation. The orchestral work of Robert Godfrey on 'Galadriel' and 'Mocking Bird' is certainly worth of mention, giving these two tracks a more pompous, grandiose atmosphere with beautiful arrangements. If it wasn't for the latter I pretty much doubt that they would be remembered and hailed as fan favourites.

'She Said' is possibly the best number here (with the best guitar work), with 'Happy Old World' being possibly the weakest. Although the vocal melodies are pleasant, I get the impression that the tracks tend to drag much longer than they should have, and the experimentation/diversity is not there to sustain the duration, often leading to repetition towards the end.

All and all, a good album with its own character but not in my top list of the early 70's; nevertheless, this psych/blues feeling of nostalgia I get from "Once Again" will make me spin this a few more times in the future.

Report this review (#961289)
Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Once Again finds Barclay James Harvest in a symphonic and miserable mood - symphonic in the sense that there are a few orchestral collaborations on this album, and miserable in the sense that several songs (including the utterly misleadingly titled Happy Old World) are depressing to the stage of being suicidal (in some cases literally). It's one of the more understated and subdued prog releases of 1971, but it's rather successful at that. In particular, I appreciated the subtle touch shown on the tracks featuring the orchestra, where the band don't overwhelm the orchestra and the orchestra don't overwhelm the band - a rare balance. At the same time, I find it fairly shallow as far as this sort of early symphonic prog goes; it's pretty enough, but it doesn't have the hidden depths of contemporary works by the likes of, say, Yes or Genesis.
Report this review (#962758)
Posted Monday, May 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
3 stars 1971 saw the release of the second album, 'Once Again', which opened with Les Holroyd's "She Said" which again saw the band starting to create their own musical style although it was still firmly based on The Moody Blues. While Les, John and Woolly all provided songs for the album there were also four group compositions, including the wonderful "Mockingbird". The longest song on the album, this is the first song that shows them taking their music and the Mellotron firmly in hand to create a song that is both thoughtful and beautiful, quiet and soaring. The fact that it is still very much a firm favourite shows just how well the song has lasted, but for me it is unusual to hear the impact of the orchestra which in the live environment has now been replaced with keyboards. This is a much more consistent album, and is more approachable than the debut.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

Report this review (#978118)
Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The version of the album that I am basing this review off of is the 2002 remastered version, how this differs from the original in terms of production quality I do not know, but being unable to get my hands on the original the remastered version will have to suffice. Once Again is one of BJH's best albums in my (and it seems many others) opinion. This is helped in no small part to the mammoth opener to the album, She Said. Although the album does dip for a bit, it does reach this height once again with the wonderful Mockingbird.

Other songs on the album are good for the most part, Song For Dying and Lady Loves feel sub-par, while Happy Old World feels, well, sub-sub-par. The rest of the music however is extremely enjoyable with a couple of real highlights scattered here and there.

Nevertheless, this album suffers from the same thing that every BJH album suffers from, they pay great homage to all of their influences but, most of the time, wind up sounding like merely a pale image of them, and switch styles so readily that they don't seem to have any continuous flow, or a recognizable sound.

Nevertheless this is definitely one of their stronger efforts here with a couple of real winners. Still a mixed bag. Still Barclay James Harvest.

3/5 stars.

Report this review (#1180267)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | Review Permalink

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