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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest Time Honoured Ghosts album cover
3.68 | 225 ratings | 27 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. In My Life (4:39)
2. Sweet Jesus (3:30)
3. Titles (3:49)
4. Jonathan 4:45
5. Beyond The Grave (4:08)
6. Song For You (5:20)
7. Hymn For The Children (3:39)
8. Moongirl (4:51)
9. One Night (5:21)

Total Time: 39:52

Bonus track on Polydor remaster (2003):
10. Child Of The Universe (2:49) *

Total Time: 42:41

* Remake for planned US single, previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars
- Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme / keyboards (Hammond C3, Solina string ensemble, Mellotron 300 & 400, Lawrence piano, Mini-Moog), vocals
- Les Holroyd / vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion

- Mantric Sun Mountain Choir / chorus (5)

Releases information

ArtWork: Bill Dare with Geoff Halpin (logo)and late Maxfield Parrish "Harvest" painting for inspiration

LP Polydor 2383 361 (1975, Germany)

CD Polydor 831 543 (1987, Germany)
CD Polydor UICY-9048 (2001, Japan) Remastered by Paschal Byrne
CD Polydor 065-400-2 (2003, UK) Remastered by Paschal Byrne w/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Time Honoured Ghosts ratings distribution

(225 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Time Honoured Ghosts reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars In good spirits

At first, this may sound somewhat weaker than other BJH albums, but it does have hidden depths.

The tracks which start each side of the LP "In my life" (no relation to the Beatles song) and "Song for you" have similar structures. Each starts with an upbeat section, leading to a slower, melodic, closing part. The style works well for BJH, and gives the songs a slightly more prog feel.

While previous albums had included tracks with similarities to other peoples' songs, this takes a whole new twist with the song "Titles". The track is made up entirely of Beatles song titles, and also borrows from their melodies. It's a reasonable pastiche, but has something of a corny feel to it (the song is revisited on the "Nexus" album, where it is given an extra verse and longer closing section).

"Jonathan " is influenced by the short story "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" (which also inspired Neil Diamond's concept album of the same name!), and bears a suitable light, soaring atmosphere.

Woolly Wolstenholme's "Beyond the grave" is one of BJH's most powerful tracks ever. It swims in keyboards, building from an almost inaudible start to a magnificent symphonic crescendo. The closing track "One night", seems at first to be something of an anti-climax, but it is in fact a haunting melody, which belies it's apparently simple 4 verse 4 chorus structure.

In all, a deceptively understated album, which, like a malt whisky, take time to mature, but is certainly worth getting to know.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is definitely like their previous ones: very rock, even sometimes hard rock. There is still this omnipresent folk style. The keyboards are floating and it is often an organ. The bass and drums are elaborated and present, but never aggressive. The electric guitar can be surprisingly razor and aggressive ("Song For You"). Lead vocals are a bit more conventional than the smooth ones on the following albums. This record is among their best ones.
Review by daveconn
3 stars Hooking up with veteran producer Elliot Mazer (Neil Young, etc.), BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST continues their homage to The BEATLES by way of CROSBY, STILLS & NASH with "Time Honoured Ghosts". The album's most noteworthy (or is it notorious?) track is "Titles", which takes as an ingratiating melody as the band has committed to vinyl and blows it on lyrics comprised almost entirely of titles from BEATLES' songs. It's a cute gimmick, but still a gimmick, and the melody deserves better. There remain shades of The MOODY BLUES, mostly when Woolly's mellotron is in attendance, as on "Jonathan," and an obvious nod to KING CRIMSON on the not-so-cleverly disguised "Moongirl." While the material is generally enjoyable, BJH's willingness to subvert their own identity in favor of established acts sells their own skills remarkably short. When the band steps away from idolatry to follow their own muse, there are moments when they can hold their own with the best of them - take the introduction to "Beyond the Grave" as exhibit A.

Aside from the aforementioned Wolstenholme song, the album alternates between tracks from Lees and Holroyd. When Holroyd gets some vocal support he does a pretty fair job, especially for The Who-like first half of "Song for You," but his voice sounds weak much of the time. Although the harmonies are fewer, the arrangements less cluttered, and the mellotron often absent, this streamlined approach better suits the simple love songs that have always been at the core of their music. It's unclear if that was the rationale behind hiring Mazer to produce, or if it was another case of the band's starstruck nature, but the result is pleasant if not exactly ambitious.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From the beginning: -The cover art is simply great and in a relaxing colour; - John Lees' songs are all very good, expecially In My Life and One Night. Titles is a good tune, tribute to the Beatles. Words are real titles of their songs... - Les Holroyd's pieces are at the same level. my favourite is Sweet Jesus, with a strong Christian influence, and its sparse arrangments is the secret of its beauty. Jonathan is a live classic, inspired by the novel Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. The final coda reminds me of some Pink Floyd movement. Song For You and Moongirl are good example of the talent of this Man! - Wooly Wolstenholme's unique composition is in a orchestral conception, with a strong theme: death will not end our mortal lives, we will survive Beyond The Grave!!!

In conclusion: A very good album, that defects only in the fact it is too quieter than the previous one. Anyway, there are moments with some mordant in the first and final part of In My Life and in the first half of Song For You. Finally I suggest it to all who love mellotron in particular and good songs in general!!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By 1975, BJH was moving firmly away from its symphonic progressive roots (although the next year's Octoberon would temporarily reverse the process) and ploughing down a catchy commercial direction that had been forged by the likes of America. They still kept writing some exceptional songs though, and Time Honoured Ghosts is full of beautiful material.

In My Life is an excellent pop-rock tune with one of those catchy John Lees lead guitar riffs (it's not quite as good as Baby James Harvest's Crazy (Over You) though) and Sweet Jesus is a moving Les Holroyd ballad, with nice gospel organ,courtesy of Woody Wolstenholme. The Beatles' influence on BJH is shown to the max on the song Titles (a superb pleading ballad that uses Beatles' song titles as its lyrics!), even the outro, with all the guys chipping in with little ad-lib vocals, is a hilarious yet melodic tongue in cheek nod to their idols. Jonathan is a nice ballad, as is the melancholic Hymn For The Children, which continues a theme that Lees touched on the previous album's Child Of The Universe. One Night also continues the trend of making pleasing, but unchallenging music.

In fact only on 3 of the 9 tracks here do BJH attempt to stretch the boundaries of rock. Notably, Wolstenholme's sole compostion, Beyond The Grave is the most arty piece on here with a menacing guitar riff, symphonic synths, Gothic organ and a free-form melody that rides on a variety of chord formations according the piece a welcome unpredictable character. Moongirl is another highlight, not quite as impressive, but ethereal and symphonic in nature. And Song For You also attempts to be quite bold, but doesn't quite work as well, with a weak vocal performance from Les Holdroyd not helping its cause.

Overall, though, like most mid-period BJH albums (1974's Everyone Is Everybody Else to 1978's Barclay James Harvest XII), this record is damn good, but not really "progressive enough". ... 58% on the MPV scale

Review by loserboy
5 stars BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST released a number of fantastic recordings in the 70's with "Time Honoured Ghosts" representing one of this music lovers favourites. At this point in their musical careers these guys were in full flight and recording some of the most beautiful soft progressive rock. John Lees and Les Holroyd were the dominant song writers and literally shared the penmanship and wrote some of the world's most gorgeous melodies many of which are featured on this album. For those who are not familiar with BJH and those who love symphonic rock will love this band. BJH blend mellotron and organ whispers with acoustic and soaring electric guitar leads all put to the backdrop of complimentary bass and percussion. Like many of the BJH albums, "Time Honoured Ghosts" captures that special musical melancholy feeling.
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The 1974 Live album was something of a watershed for BJH as it effected closure on the Anglophile guitar-and-Mellotron anthems of the past. The transitional Time Honoured Ghosts is altogether smoother, lusher and more rounded in all departments, a 'mid-Atlantic' sound that relies more on diverse arrangements and professionalism with the band beginning to think outside the box and consistently producing accomplished and enterprising songs. That it was recorded in California, USA undoubtedly broadened their horizons.

Nearly all songs reach a very high standard, even the weakest retain interest, yet somehow the album lack's the killer punch of a She Said or For No-One to take it onto a higher plain. It would seem that in removing the rough edges they unwittingly [?] also removed many of those proggier 'wow' moments. Another factor is the increased range of keyboards adopted by Woolly, especially organ, replacing the old Mellotron-with-everything approach, though Mellotron is never far away including some orgasmic 'choir' in In My Life.

John's songs are all strong, often lyrically elusive but always interesting and thought provoking, such as his oblique take on prostitution in One Night illustrated by an appropriately jaded ambience to the arrangement. Les's songwriting tended to become somewhat formulaic in later years, but here his songs are fresh and exhilarating though lyrically indifferent. Woolly's sole songwriting contribution, Beyond The Grave, is as always a little off-beat, an 'orchestrated' classic with almost hippy lyrics about the eternal nature of the human soul.

Though BJH never again recorded outside Europe, the die had been cast and trends set in motion which saw their popularity soar as commercial sensibilities were fine-tuned over succeeding albums, though for a while this new direction was convincingly married to the old proggish outlook. Time Honoured Ghosts may not be faultless, but it is a supreme example of a melodic Prog and soft rock blend with the emphasis on quality arrangements rather than grand musical statements. Highly recommended.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars After their excellent Live '74 and their first Polydor studio album (very pleasant as well), BJH won't change their style.They will keep on producing very melodic songs that convey some sadness or melancholy due to John's vocals. "In My Life" fully corresponds to this description.

Some religious oriented songs will also be part of their repertoire. I respect one's philosophical ideas but I can hardly cope with this (same feeling applies to Carlos Santana or Yes, especially when they play live). So, "Sweet Jesus" is definitely not a fave of mine.

The musical intro for "Titles" sets the pace. What we'll get here is a very original tribute to the Fab Four. In previous releases (Harvest days), I mentioned the strong influence of the Fab Four on BJH's music. It starts with some notes from "The Long & Winding Road" and most of the lyrics are made of titles from their songs.

I can't resist to provide you with the chorus lines : "Lady Madonna let it be, Something in the way you moved me yesterday, All you need is love so they say". But don't worry : "The Long & Winding Road", "Here Comes The Sun", "Across The Universe" won't be forgotten. The idea is rahter original and the melody if of course very Beatles- esque.

Still, this album is not as strong as their previous one. It sounds as if the band is short of ideas. They try to match "Everyone..." but some songs here are a bit too flat to achieve that ("Jonathan" for instance). BJH invented the most symphonic rock possible. Mellotron lovers (to which I belong) will be delighted with a track like "Beyond the Grave". But too little of these songs will be featured here.

It might sound strange but at the time of this release, BJH was one of my favourite bands (together with Genesis, Yes, Floyd, Van Der Graaf and ELP in my order of preference). I guess that I needed to get some breaks from time to time and listen to less complex music. This is exactly what you'll get here. But less polished, less achieved than on "Once Again" and "Everyone...". Some nice little songs and that's it.

"Moongirl" is my favourite track from "Time Honoured Ghosts". But are The Beatles ghosts ? The album closes on a weak song, so it was time to finish the album...

I've seen the supporting tour for "Time..." in Brussels. The (vague) souvenir I have is that BJH did not play too many songs from this album. It was almost the content of "Live 74" augmented with some new songs so, I was quite happy at the end of the concert.

Songs featured here are short ones. I would call them "symphonic pop". This album is of course not a must have and is far from being a masterpiece. Three stars.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

TIME HONOURED GHOSTS always has had a special place in my heart, mainly of course because of its great artistic prowess but also sentimentally as its release coincided with some great times in my life back then and this album was closely associated to them. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST finally has found the right formula with EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE and will stick to it with this new 1975 release. Although not quite yet successful, the band has broaden its fanbase (like me back then) and you could sense something was going on with this band which would go from obscurity to some relative stardom very soon!

The same recipes that succeed on EVERYBONE IS.... are re-applied here. Nine tracks in the 4-5 mns range, 4 from JOHN LEES, 4 from LES HOLROYD and WOOLY WOLSTENHOLME has even been allowed one credit with the wonderful BEYOND THE GRAVE. TIME HONOURED GHOSTS sound more of the same than its predecessor as the songs sound like they come from the same sessions. But as we have enjoyed EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE very much, why should we be complaining about?

There are galore of those symphonic prog pearls like the gorgeous HOLROYD's penned JONATHAN and MOONLIGHT which happen to be 2 of my favorite all-time BJH songs. What a beautiful world we entering when listening to these 2 tracks, so melodic, so delicate and we don't want to forget about tha magical sound of the harpsichord on MOONLIGHT. I am more of a JOHN LEES fan than HOLROYD's, but when he goes this way, no one can catch himl

JONATHAN is the perfect opener for the aforementioned WOOLY track BEYOND THE GRAVE, the most proggish track of the album with its grandiose keyboards athmosphere! Pompous, you said? well, pompous like that, i can take it every morning with my breakfast.

JOHN LEES is no slouch either on this recordeing with the opener IN MY LIFE with an upbeat guitar lick before turning into an athmospheric middle section ready to make a prog fan happy with its lush arrangements. I don't have a beef with TITLES, a LEES tribute to the Beatles, at least he doesn't plagiarize them, it's a respectful hommage to his heroes and i think it's well done with good taste.HYMN FOR THE CHILDREN is another LEES gem in the FOR NO ONE vein while the closing track ONE NIGHT goes back to LEES west-coast influences, another beautiful melody NEIL YOUNG or STEPHEN STILLS would have been proud to create.

I can't hear nothing remotely bad on TIME HONOURED GHOSTS; This is a great album of a band reaching his artistic peak.The only critic i could come up with is the rigid structure of the songs as some such as JONATHAN could have been used more room to develop when for example at the end starts a soaring beautiful guitar solo only to be cut after a few seconds...just when i was ready to enter heaven!!!.....I know, we are always asking for too much!!

Another great addition to a prog/collection! A must-have for any BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST fan!

4.5 STARS,

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars With "Time Honoured Ghosts", BJH travelled to San Francisco to enlist the services of acclaimed producer Elliott Mazer, and borrowed esteemed Maxfield Parrish's "Harvest" painting for the cover. Going American perhaps? Not really...for starters, the title utilizes British spelling. Moreover, Mazer works with the group's naturally English sound, and it is here that the only real improvement occurs over the previous masterpiece. Mazer has opened up more space in the group's signature styles and worked brilliant contrasts into the material, like those on the bold Parrish work.

So what is wrong, and why is this a decided step down? Simply, the songwriting and material is a lot weaker. The dominance of Beatle-esque references extends far beyond the "traditional" tune "Titles" into segments of "Jonathan", which, unlike its namesake, never quite gets off the ground and "Moongirl" with Holroyd's growing tendency to crank his voice to ever higher octaves. Think "Lucy in the Sky..." for an idea. Even Woolly, who was shunned as songwriter just a year earlier, delivers an overwrought dud in "Beyond the Grave". One could argue, somewhat justifiably, that he adapted his songwriting and arranging for the group's new style, but at the cost of a complete loss of subtlety.

Luckily, where the album shines it sparkles - "In My Life", "Song For You", and "One Night" are all top notch, with creative shifts and harmonies. Even "Sweet Jesus" is an expressive Holroyd tune that can almost convert the agnostic. Its spare arrangements and naive vocals fit the bill. "Hymn for the Children" is the highlight, with a gorgeous Lees melody, uplifting vocals, jangly Byrds styled guitars and a whiff of celestial mellotron in the chorus.

At its best, "Time Honoured Ghosts" lives up to its lovely name, but this is not quite often enough to justify an excellent rating. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Time typical ghost

This is a very typical Barclay James Harvest album, perhaps even the most typical one. It has all the band's trademarks and no real surprises. As often, there is a song about Jesus (Sweet Jesus), there is a song about prostitutes (One Night), as well as a song that builds on another band's work (Titles - this one builds on the work of The Beatles as Poor Man's Moody Blues would later build on the work of The Moody Blues. The entire lyrical content of this song is made up by Beatles' song titles). Not very inspiring at all in my opinion!

If there is anything at all to put this album apart from the others in the vast discography of this band it has to be that this one is even more laid-back than the rest! The two albums that surrounded it (Everyone Is Everybody Else and Octoberon), for example, are both distinctively better.

As always, the best and most progressive song is written by Woolly Wolstenholme. This time it is Beyond The Grave which is a very typical Wolstenholme composition but also one of his better ones. But hardly something to blow the Prog fan away. In My Life, Jonathan, Song For You, Hymn For The Children and Moongirl are all decent songs, but certainly nothing remarkable. The aforementioned trio of Sweet Jesus, Titles and One Night are quite uninspired, lacking in inspiration both lyrically and musically.

The word 'typical' is a very good description of this album. However, being typical is not necessarily a bad thing if you like this band. But as far as I'm concerned, this album - like so many others by this band - is for fans and collectors only.

Review by Kotro
4 stars Ghosts from the past

In an attempt to dote my sporadic reviewing with a bit of order, I made the recent decision of going through albums that I own alphabetically, a decision that is proving to be both a pain and a pleasure - on one hand, I can only rarely find the will to write something mildly useful to possible readers when being compelled, rather than inspired; on the other hand, this method not only encourages a more dedicated way of dabbling with reviews, but also brought to my attention a few records I hadn't heard in ages. That's probably one of the reasons why I'm sticking to it for the time being. So, it was due to this "policy" that I once more crossed paths with Barclay James Harvest's Time Honoured Ghosts, an album I had not heard in over 10 years. And such a special album it is - it belongs in the restricted group of the first few albums I heard and liked, way back when I had no knowledge of the concepts "Art-Rock" or "Progressive-Rock" - music was just music.

Artwork usually gives you an impression of what's the come when you put the record on. I wasn't that surprised to hear the opener 21st Century Schizoid Man when first played In the Court of the Crimson King - the terrified look in the cover kinda gave it way (I was much more pleasantly surprised by the rest of the album!). This was not the case with BJH's Time Honoured Ghosts - the bucolic artwork made me think of gentle acoustic guitars, a sweet harmonica, a delicate folky feel - everything but the explosive guitars and martial drumming of the opening track, In My Life. When I think of all the influential solos that made me pick up the electric guitar, this one still haunts me, even if, like I said, I hadn't heard it in over 10 years. The track continues in a western influenced mood, almost transporting us ridding to Rancho Ponderosa. A quieter part then follows, the guitars and drums are silenced and all we hear is the celestial choir of the Mellotron supporting the soothing vocals. Organ, choir, speed-up of the guitar, crescendo, and the blazing return to the initial section that now closes this stunning opener. It is followed by the kind of folk ballad I was waiting to hear when first taking the record out - Sweet Jesus is dominated by acoustic guitar, Hammond, and vocal harmonies in the vein of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, with the occasional appearance of the electric guitar for a discrete but effective solo. Titles is a nice exercise of Beatles emulation, taking the Fab 4's song titles and some of their famous licks to produce a semi-original work. Delightful arrangements and little details make this otherwise simply curious track into a pleasant listening experience. After 10 years, my memories of this album were limited to the first five tracks (Side One, as it was). Yet as I was hearing the fourth track, Jonathan, I couldn't remember what was it I enjoyed about it - it starts as another delicate acoustic ballad, with an unimpressive keyboard soundscape (quasi-orchestral, but not in an exciting way) in the background, complemented by some lazy drumming. A rather cheesy track, I thought, still wondering what was it I enjoyed in this track. Then, after about 2 minutes, it all came back to me - the finale. After a repetition of the first sung part, the Mellotron-drenched finale begun, with the spacey atmosphere and the scorching, out of control guitar - a finale that ends a bit too soon, deserving of being explored a few more minutes. The first side of the LP was closed by the highly symphonic Beyond the Grave. Listening to its opening marching beat and guitars, one can easily imagine where Roger Waters got the inspiration for In The Flesh. The beating crescendo gives way to a spectacular keyboard passage (the kind you would find on a J.M. Jarre album), that fades away giving its place to the majestic vocals. Not a hint of folk in this haunting, keyboard-drenched track. Just like In My Life, the opening section returns to bring the song (and the first side of the album) to a close.

Side Two remained the most mysterious one to me, in this rediscovery of Time Honoured Ghosts. With the exception of the first half of Jonathan, Side One was vividly implanted in my memory - the same did not occur with Side Two. Its opener kicks off with a nice guitar riff and organ, very reminiscent of The Nice. The beat and structure of the song are rather unimpressive, pretty much standard rock, if it weren't for the Niceish organ explosions once in a while. Features a piano and acoustic guitar dominated middle section (with loads of keyboards textures in the background), where the vocals once more take on a more soothing tone, and ballad-like, that continues until the end. The start of the next track, Hymn for the Children, reminds me a lot of The Byrds' classic song Turn Turn Turn, but it soon turns (no pun intended) into a lot more. The vocals are similar, but the emotional chorus of the song truly sets the difference, with its keyboards and percussion. The speeding up of the rhythm after the first chorus ends all comparison. The ending, while still pleasant, could be better, but it takes no thrill away from this beautiful song. Moongirl opens with a Santana-like guitar solo backed by organ. Vocals then enter, backed only by what sounds like harpsichord. The organ and assorted keyboards return for the charming chorus, which is followed by the same guitar solo from the beginning. The chorus then reprises, retrieving the harpsichord that and other keyboards which bring the song to a close in a slow fade-out. The final track, One Night opens in an interesting way - a rather gloomy guitar solo gives way to a more cheerful beat and singing (despite the unfortunate nature of the theme), characterized by the drumming and acoustic guitar playing. The vocals in chorus are once more similar to what one would expect to hear in a Crosby Stills Nash & Young song. It is followed, however, by an exquisite but short guitar solo in crescendo. We hear again the first section, with the track following the typical pop song structure - this soon changes, as the unusual second solo (the same from the opening) is heard, followed by the middle one. And, once more, like a never-ending cycle, the same sung structure is repeated - but this time, the solo that follows is longer, growing more impressive - sadly, this happens just as it is beginning to fade-away, bringing the album to a close.

This album brings back a lot of memories, of days of yore when I was just a young toddler going through my parents' vinyl relics, discovering gems at every opening of a gatefold. Perhaps this nostalgia is what makes me so fond of this album, rating it perhaps a bit higher than it deserves for the purposes of a progressive rock review. This is because at no point do we witness in this album an attempt to extend the boundaries of rock music - these is nothing exceptional about Time Honoured Ghosts, no breakthrough has been made. It is pretty much a straightforward rock album, with elements of folk and symphonic prog and, no point in hiding it, a bit of pop. There is a clear influence of American Folk, mostly in the vocals, via Crosby Stills Nash & Young and their quintessential album Dejā Vu, but the manner of the arrangements and composition is still pure British symphonic. It's funny to think, while revisiting this childhood memory, how much I like this album, which makes me wonder why I never felt the urge to explore more of Barclay James Harvest. But hey, I guess it's never too late.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I consider Everyone Is Everybody Else to be the pinnacle of Barclay James Harvest's career but the band managed to follow it up by another quality release which is not always a given. I think that Barclay James Harvest did a great job with this release because the band actually built upon the work they've done previously while still exploring some new territory.

Time Honoured Ghosts kicks-off with In My Life which is probably the best rocker that John Lees has ever written. Overall I think that Lees' compositions have a slight advantage here to Les Holroyd's material with the slight exception of the magnificent Moongirl. Woolly Wolstenholme finally gets one of his compositions on the album and although Beyond The Grave is probably the most prog-related composition featured here it falls out with the contrast set by Lees' and Holroyd's work. This is quite strange considering that non of the composers have changed their individual styles but it could be because the orchestrations on their Harvest-albums hid the relatively basic song structures that Lees and Holroyd have always been aiming for.

Although Time Honoured Ghosts may not be a must have album it's definitely one of the highlights in the band's discography.

***** star songs: In My Life (4:39) Titles (3:49) Moongirl (4:51)

**** star songs: Sweet Jesus (3:30) Jonathan (4:45) Beyond The Grave (4:08) Song For You (5:20) Hymn For The Children (3:39) One Night (5:21)

Review by friso
3 stars Barclay James Harvest - Time Honoured Ghosts (1975)

What hides beneath this superb sleeve?

BJH was a high quality symphonic rock and songwriting band of the seventies. Their symphonic vision influences others around them, but they never made a masterpiece themselves. The main ingredients of the music of BJH is the emotional song-writing with the acoustic and electric guitars and symphonic/pastoral sounds. This crossover prog impact of the made BJH an interesting bands for proggers. The music isn't about innovation, it's isn't about sophistication. The focus is on the beauty of the professional rock songs.

On Time Honoured Ghosts the song-writing is strong and the recording polished. I must say I recently regained interest in the music when I got my new pick-up element and my new speakers. Normally I don't like polished recordings, but BJH made it a profession and it makes their music very relaxing. The acoustic guitars play the nice chord progressions, whilst the slightly distorted electric guitars often play simple, yet effective melodies. The keyboard sounds of the band are amazing. The vocals are personal and remind me a bit of Crosby, Stills Nash and Young. The vocal harmonies are a real attraction on some songs.

The one problem with this record is fact that is doesn't stand out on some aspects. The song- writing is catchy, but a bit cheesy at times. The melodies are fine, but never innovative. The question arises, how important is this well-played song-based record for fans of the progressive genre? Is it perhaps a bit boring at times? It depends on you. If you can accept this light symphonic form of prog with it's emotional song-writing it might please you very much. It surely sounds very professional and the production is no less than brilliant.

Conclusion. This record is recommended to fans of the band, the crossover prog genre and those who have enjoyed the song-writing of the seventies/late sixties. For me this an album I won't listen to very often, but I won't deny it's quality. Three stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Barclay James Harvest was one of the bands that colored my childhood together with bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like. Unfortunately the band had never been caught into my attention as the music was, to me, very mellow and I had no patient at all to wait the music playing from my cassette player. That's wahy I rarely had the CD collection of any BJH albums, only some of them. From the CDs that I have, there is no single album that really sand out from my personal taste.That's why I rarely wrote my review about the band. I knew the band for the first time from a favorite song called 'Poorman's Moody Blues' that really made me pay a more attention to the band's music. Again, unfortunately there is no single song or album that really hook me with BJH.

This album is by no exception even though I admit that the songs contained in this album is not bad at all and having good melody line. All songs are mellow in style with good tracks like 'Titles', 'Jonathan', 'In My Life' and 'Moongirl'. Prog? Nope. I don't think this kind of music is a prog music but it's OK as an easy listening music even though The Alan Prasons Projest does better than BJH.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars 'Time Honoured Ghosts' was recorded in the U.S. with an American producer and at times the influences of the seventies West Coast sound come through in these songs, particularly early in the album. Elliot Mazer had been a longtime producer when he was tapped for this record, crafting commercially and artistically successful albums for the likes of Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, It's a Beautiful Day, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Gordon Lightfoot, all North American artists with more than a tinge of country and modern folk in their sound. The location was His Master's Wheels studio in San Francisco, which had yielded well-received albums from the likes of Rory Gallagher, Journey, Santana and the Dead.

Not that this is a country-rock album, far from it in fact. But Mazer was quoted as saying his motivation in producing it was that he felt BJH had been "overpowered" by orchestral arrangements on some of their prior work, and he wanted to focus on highlighting their musical talents versus embellishing their songs with the lush instrumentation they were more accustomed to. He was partially successful.

The opening "In My Life" and "Sweet Jesus" both could have easily come from any number of American bands. There's nary a trace of string orchestration and little keyboard work, especially on "In My Life". I'm not sure what the song is about, maybe a cautionary tale about being a bad person or some sort of thing like that (the repetitive refrain "you reap what you sow" seems to indicate as much). This is a John Lees composition and he flat out wails on electric guitar, which combined with the two- and three- part harmonies comes off sounding like very much like the sort of country/blues/folksy/easy-going music that was quite prevalent around the Bay area at the time. "Sweet Jesus" seems to be a quasi- spiritual tune, mellow with tasty guitar licks and acoustic accompaniment and also plenty of harmonizing. This album came out at the end of the Jesus freak music era which was especially strong on the West Coast, so perhaps the band was either influenced by the sounds around them or simply felt the song's theme would resonate with that element of the mid-seventies music scene. Either way it's an unusual song for BJH but is appealing and well-delivered.

Lees seems to have had a penchant for clever songs back in the day, perhaps as a way to overcome writer's block or maybe just because he felt showcasing the music was sometimes more important than the lyrics. Either way "Titles" is one of those, another easy- going tune with layered vocals delivered in somber keys and consisting of nothing more than Beatles song titles strung together with snippets of lyrics from the same songs and a persistent refrain of "Lady Madonna, let it be". A pleasant tune though in reality not much more than well-disguised filler for a band of this caliber. But still quite pleasant.

Holroyd wrote "Jonathan" as a tribute to the uber-famous Richard Bach novella 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull', a story about self-awareness and personal growth told from the vantage point of a bird. Here Wolstenholme's keyboards begin to noticeably work their way into the music for the first time, and with this and the next track "Beyond the Grave" the band morphs back completely to the symphonic and slightly baroque sound of their early work. Wooly lays down bombastic organ bleats with heavy crescendos and Lees' electric guitar with an abrupt and somewhat unexpected ending. Next on "Song for You" (composed by Wolstenholme) he shifts to a sort of Styx-sounding series of trilling keyboard sequences along with Lees on electric guitar, though midway through the sound switches to a more acoustic motif, again mostly Lees on guitar and Wooly moving to piano for the duration.

"Hymn for the Children" is another one of those Holroyd songs about everybody loving one another and making the world a better place, this one moving slightly back to the West Coast harmonizing sound ala CSN&Y or some of the more poignant Grateful Dead songs of the same period. "Moongirl", another Holroyd tune, is similar but as with "Beyond the Grave" more steeped in organ and synthesized keyboard sounds than most of the rest of the album.

Lees manages another odd subject with the closing "One Night", a mostly acoustic and somber number that tells the story of a one night stand with a prostitute told from the view of the john. As with most of Lees' songs it isn't judgmental as much as reflective. I'm not sure what he meant to achieve with this one but the backing vocals, simple organ work and easy-going rhythm bring the overall album vibe back around to where it started and give the impression of continuity and a sense of completeness for the listener.

I don't know all the background of why the band and Polydor decided to record this album in San Francisco with an American producer, but that decision combined with changing musical tastes of the time resulted in one of the more unique Barclay James Harvest albums. Their next release 'Octoberon' would take a decidedly different direction. But this one has aged well and it is still a great example of what the band could achieve without having to completely wrap themselves in strings and orchestral fluff, so maybe Mazer was on to something after all. I'll go with four stars here and a high recommendation, especially for those only casually familiar with BJH. This is one you really should hear.


Review by Matti
3 stars BJH went weaker after their magnificent second album Once Again (1971), without radical changes in style. 1974's Everyone Is Everybody Else marked a bigger stylistic change, from symphonic to tighter and cleaner sounding sophisticated rock, and was an improvement over the preceding albums. This next one with such a beautiful cover art is still better, and very well produced. Some songs sound a bit like they were American (soft) rock of the time, but there's still a certain pastoral Englishness to BJH. For the vocals - sometimes a bad spot with BJH - this is average, not great but not the worst either.

All of the nine songs are at least listenable in their simple accessibility. Lyrics of 'Titles' is built on Beatles songs; the powerful chorus ("Lady Madonna, let it be...") easily sticks to mind. Les Holroyd's 'Jonathan' is a highlight and a tribute to Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Wolstenholme sings his touching and majestic 'Beyond The Grave'. Slow and dreamy 'Moongirl' is very nice too, and 'One Night' ends the album finely in faster tempo, with a mood of urban loneliness. This album may be a bit lame and unproggy for many of us, but if you enjoy also softer melodic rock of the seventies, this will please you.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Even more syrupy and sweet than Everyone is Everybody Else, Time Honoured Ghosts just about manages to hold together thanks to the band's musicianship despite the creeping soft rock influences. Opener In My Life is a powerful one, and whilst Titles is a shameless gimmick track it at least manages to be a decent Beatles tribute. I wouldn't call it essential listening for prog fans as a whole because the band seem to be severely watering down their prog sound at this point, but if you like mid-1970s soft rock it'll probably appeal to you - and if you don't it's just about proggy enough to perhaps be an exception to that.
Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 666

"Time Honoured Ghosts" is the sixth studio album of Barclay James Harvest and that was released in 1975. After the release of their previous studio album "Everyone Is Everybody Else", it was agreed that the next studio work of the group should be recorded is USA. So, "Time Honoured Ghosts" was recorded at the His Masters Wheels studio in San Francisco. It's a quite decent album, with a bit generic formulaic. Despite it has nothing new, just the usual mix of sweet symphonic songs relieved by some more acoustic and down to earth tracks, it seems better than their previous one.

"Time Honoured Ghosts" has nine tracks. The first track "In My Life" written by John Lees is a great and powerful opener for the album in the same vein of the song "Child Of The Universe" of their previous studio album "Everyone Is Everybody Else". It's a very beautiful song, very melodic and with good lyrics, a great guitar performance with a great guitar riff and it has also a great and nice Mellotron work. The second track "Sweet Jesus" written by Les Holroyd is a very religious oriented song and mainly for that reason displeases many of us. Sincerely, I can respect those ideas and live with that. Musically, it's a song dominated by the acoustic guitar, Hammond organ and nice vocal harmonies that reminds me Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Eagles. I like the song and sincerely think that we are in presence of a nice and pleasant song to hear. The third track "Titles" written by John Lees is a lyrical tribute to The Beatles that interwoven some titles of The Beatles songs to make up the lyrics. It's a very beautiful song very well arranged, with beautiful and powerful chorus, very well done and with good taste. It's, in reality, a very simple song with a simple tune as only John Lees can do so well. It's, in reality, a very nice and honest tribute to John Lees' heroes. The fourth track "Jonathan" written by Les Holroyd was inspired by Richard's Bach book "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull", a novel about imposing limitations upon one's self, which used a metaphor of a seagull to illustrate that. Musically is a very nice and delicate ballad extremely mellow and beautiful. It has a very impressive guitar performance, some acoustic and electric, beautiful keyboards in the background and is also very well complemented by drums. The fifth track "Beyond The Grave" written by Woolly Wolstenholme is the contribution to the album from him. It's a very powerful and epic musical composition, probably the most powerful song ever created by the group. It's a magnificent piece of music that grows and grows from an almost inaudible start to an incredible crescendo and in the end the song ends abruptly. It's, without any doubt, one of the best tracks on the album and is for sure the most progressive track on it. The sixth track "Song For You" written by Les Holroyd is typically a rock song. The mainly reference on this song is the electric guitar. Here, the electric guitar can be surprisingly razor and aggressive. This is probably the best contribution of Les Holroyd to the album, although some weak vocal performances from him especially on this song. The seventh track "Hymn For The Children" written by John Lees is a love song written in the spirit of everybody love each other and making of the world a better place. I'm a free mind and I've no problem with the lyrics and the spirit of songs like this. This is a melancholic song which continues a very dear theme to John Lees, especially touched with "Child Of The Universe" included on their previous studio album "Everyone Is Everybody Else". The eighth track "Moongirl" written by Les Holroyd is a very harmonic and beautiful song. This is a true impressive song because is a very simple song which have at the same time a great deep musical quality. It's a very slow song giving us time to enjoy its beautiful melody and harmony. The vocal harmonies are also one of the highest points of this song. The ninth and last track "One Night" written by John Lees is a song which touches the subject of prostitution from the eyes of a world weary client. It tells the story of one night stand with someone with a prostitute view through the eyes of John Lees. This is another John Lees' strong song, mostly acoustic, with interesting and allusive lyrics, and as is usual most often, they're also a bit provocative. This is another fine John Lees' song which closes magnificently this beautiful and well balanced album, in my humble opinion.

Conclusion: As I wrote before when I reviewed "Everyone Is Everybody Else", "Time Honoured Ghosts" is a better studio work than "Everyone Is Everybody Else" is, because it's a more cohesive and a well balanced album. I know "Time Honoured Ghosts" since it was released and I even have a vinyl copy of it purchased in those times. Barclay James Harvest was always a band that I always liked very much, and in addition to "Time Honoured Ghosts", I also have vinyl copies of other albums from them, "Octoberon", "XII", "Eyes Of The Universe" and "Turn Of The Tide", also purchased in those times. By the other hand, "Time Honoured Ghosts" was also my first introduction to Barclay James Harvest. It has certainly improved with age. There are some pretty songs here and Woolly's keyboard playing is in great form. So, in my humble opinion, "Time Honoured Ghosts" is, without any doubt, one of the best works made by them.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars "Mister reap but never sow" After their sonically powerful Polydor debut, BJH eased off a little on the bombast and focused on their songwriting and melodies with "Time Honoured Ghosts".I find it difficult to be objective with this album because I still remember immediately falling in love w ... (read more)

Report this review (#2485142) | Posted by Lupton | Monday, December 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album became my favourite as soon as I first heard it at the age of fifteen in 1975 and it has been the "no.1" ever since. I was doing some homework one Saturday afternoon with the radio on - it was Alan Freeman's show and he played a song called One Night from Time Honoured Ghosts. Its ... (read more)

Report this review (#102373) | Posted by alextorres | Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the superb 'Everyone is everybody else' it would have been a hell of a job for any band to produce a successor that could stand in the shadow of their Polydor debut. And so it happens that 'Time honoured ghosts' isn't that good. It is a very mellow album with a particular pastoral atmosp ... (read more)

Report this review (#95586) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This has always been my favourite BJH album and I cannot remember how many times I saw them perform this set live. It contains what I believe to be both the greatest songs that they put together such as Titles and Johnathon, but also totally captures the true sound of the group. Alas, I think tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#71849) | Posted by | Monday, March 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars BJH went to San Francisco to produce with Elliot Mazer and it was him who made the band's sound as a 4-piece definitely shine for the first time ( though he, as an american "rock-producer", had difficulties diggin' Woolly Wolstenholme's musical vision ! ). What you get is another flawless ... (read more)

Report this review (#69073) | Posted by rupert | Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The seventh work released in 1975 "Time Honoured Ghosts". It is the third work in the POLYDOR label. The content is gentle and a folk-rock of fantastic and a calm ensemble. It is considerably made to pop, and is not suitable for a maniac fan of a progressive rock in this work. However, it is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#60149) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars BJH probably hit the peak of their popularity in the UK in the mid 70's although later they became even more popular in parts of Europe. Their style is melodic rock/soft prog. Their albums as reviewers above have said contains various influences to which for this album I would add Genesis, par ... (read more)

Report this review (#58972) | Posted by Tonbridge Man | Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Barclay James Harvest made a album very simple,very beautiful with a good taste. The songs are in style of melodic symphonic rock with a folk touch. The title very diferent is Wooly Wolstenholme's "Beyond the grave" one of BJH's most powerful tracks ever. Wooly is a Barclay's member with a mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#22590) | Posted by | Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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