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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest ... And Other Short Stories album cover
3.26 | 164 ratings | 18 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Medicine Man (3:56)
2. Someone There You Know (3:47)
3. Harry's Song (3:52)
4. Ursula (The Swansea Song) (2:54)
5. Little Lapwing (4:56)
6. Song With No Meaning (4:21)
7. Blue John Blues (6:50)
8. The Poet (5:33)
9. After The Day (4:05)

Total Time: 40:14

Bonus tracks on EMI reissue (2002):
10. Brave New World [1971 Demo Version] (3:59)
11. She Said (8:42)
12. Galadriel (3:07)
13. Ursula (The Swansea Song) (2:55)
14. Someone There You Know (3:47)
15. Medicine Man (7:48)

Tracks 11-14 from the BBC Session 5th July 1971, previously unreleased
Track 15 from the BBC Session 15th March 1972

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / lead (1,3,7) & backing (5,6) vocals, lead (2,3,7,9) & acoustic (1,3,7) guitars, percussion (4),
- Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme / lead (2,4,8,9) & backing (5) vocals, Mellotron (2,4,9), organ & piano (7), electric (1), acoustic (4) & 12-string (6) guitars
- Les Holroyd / bass, fuzz bass (7), lead (5,6) & backing (6) vocals, piano (2,3,5), steel (5), lead (6), acoustic (5,6) & 12-string (5) guitars
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion (4,5), congas (6), timpani (9), Fx (1)

- Martyn Ford / orchestral arrangements & conductor, tambourine (5)
- Toni Cooke / orchestral arrangements
- Martyn Ford Orchestra
- David Whiston / orchestra leader

Releases information

Artwork: Barry Honeyford with Barry Wentzel (photo)

LP Harvest ‎- SHVL 794 (1971, UK)

CD Harvest ‎- 538 4072 (2002, Europe) Remastered by Peter Mew with 6 bonus tracks; new cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ... And Other Short Stories ratings distribution

(164 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ... And Other Short Stories reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A rich man's Moody Blues

The band's growing confidence is apparent on this their third album. "Ursula", "Medicine Man", and "Someone there you know" all bear the hallmarks of a band at ease with itself, while developing its own hallmark sound. That sound is one of melodic prog with strong vocals and symphonic instrumentation. I hesitate to say it in view of BJH's undeserved "Poor man's Moody blues tag", but the Moodies are a good reference point for those unfamiliar with the work of BJH.

The band are working as a coherent unit here, with a definite sense of purpose and direction, coupled with strong compositional skills. These skills are perhaps most apparent towards the end of the album where the orchestral majesty of the delicate "The Poet" merges into the bombastic "After the day" to form a terrific two part closing track. Only "Harry's song" and "Blue John's Blues" let the side down slightly, both being rather dull with weaker melodies. In all though, a highly accomplished album which displays an evolving maturity.

By the way, it is interesting to hear on the subsequent live album how the opening track "Medicine man" is transformed from a BJH standard, to a lengthy beat laden jam.

The remastered CD version includes several interesting bonus tracks.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ah, the Barclay James Harvest! It's always a pleasure to hear some their album, expecially when there's an important part for orchestra. Medicine Man is simply superb and would move me to rate the entire opus with 5 stars. But the other songs are not of the same level even if its are very good example for mellotron and interesting melodic composition. I think about Harry's Song and Song Without Meaning. An excellent album to have in our own collection!

3.5 stars.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars July 1971 and BJH once more headed off to Abbey Road to record a follow-up to the acclaimed Once Again. Ex-Pretty Things bassist Wally Allen was now in the producer's chair [Norman Smith was theoretically 'executive' producer but played no practical role], which may account for a noticeable improvement in sound quality to a richer, warmer sound more sympathetic to BJH material. The BJH Orchestra was still on the go, though Martyn Ford had now replaced Robert Godfrey as 'musical arranger' and head of the orchestra which played a significant role on this album, integrated far more successfully than previously.

Despite the portents, Other Short Stories was a bit of a botched job, completed in a hurry between tours because EMI wished to capitalise on the success of Once Again. As a result, the album is perhaps not as gutsy as it might have been, and some parts were released in an unfinished state [eg Harry's Song should have had additional piano, guitar and backing vocals which simply did not get recorded]. The abiding feel is 'mellow' and 'laid-back' - acoustic guitars [inc lots of 12-string] abound on mid-paced ballads with understated keyboard work and undemanding orchestration.

The best is concentrated at the ends. Medicine Man opens the album, a classic song from John inspired by a Ray Bradbury novel, in an arrangement unloved by the band who proceeded to re-record it for a single B-side. Live [see the 1974 album 'Live'] Medicine Man became a stunning rocker based on pulsating bass lines and lengthy jamming from John and Woolly. Here, it is as different as it can be - a spooky orchestral arrangement which breaks into a lilting rhythm after the end of the vocal. The album ends with one of the best pieces BJH ever created - a twinned pairing of orchestrated The Poet with a quintessential BJH anthem, the apocalyptic but all too short After The Day led by majestic lead guitar phrases [and a genuine solo] and Mellotron.

The dynamic Someone There You Know [Woolly really spits the words "I know what it feels to be alone"] and a wistful Ursula (The Swansea Song) are typical Woolly songs about a lost love; the unlikely inspiration for Harry's Song was the death of a pet [a parrot]; Little Lapwing and Song With No Meaning are typical Les songs, full of soft pads and lush harmonies, and with most of the non-orchestral instruments played by Les; John's sad comment on the music business, Blue John's Blues, could have been a Prog blazer, with several distinct sections, including a Beatles pastiche and some nice ensemble playing but sounds unfinished [eg no harmonies].

Personally, I have always had a soft spot for this album. There are no bad songs, even the 'average' ones are well written, impeccably performed and have their own charm. As a whole their arrangements are not quite strong enough, often drifting along in a dreamy mood when a guitar solo or phrase might have provided a welcome lift. This lack of drive is its principle failing, yet it also provides its essential character, quite distinct in the BJH discography, and quite beguiling if the listener is in a receptive frame of mind.

In summary, a 'good' album for lovers of melodic Prog lifted a point to 'excellent' by the presence of Medicine Man and The Poet / After The Day. The 2002 re-mastered release contains 6 bonus tracks, amongst which are BBC session recordings of three tracks from this album which offer some insight into how they developed, especially Medicine Man.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This was my first (and only one till recently) BJH purchase I did after having discovered their fantastic "Live 1974". The orchestration mood were really annoying me and therefore, I did not insist at that time (1975) to get their whole back catalogue.

Two songs will be featured on this brilliant live effort : "Medicine Man" and "After The Day". If you have read some reviews of mine, you know by now that I do not really like the mix of symphonic arrangements with rock music (being prog or no). The only noticeable exception is "El Dorado" from ELO.

My deception to discover the original "Medecine Man" version was huge. "After The Day" is much better in my opinion. It features a beautiful guitar break from John and a wonderful vocal part from Stuart. It is by far my preferred track of this album and the only highlight.

The least that I can say about "Someone There You Know" is that, at least, it might well have influenced some ELO songs. A very catchy and poppy melody, as Jeff was will write a lot. A good song, after all. "Harry's Song" is an attempt to a more rocking number. BJH will occasionally write such a track in their previous album as well. Not always convincing I'm afraid.

"Ursula" is a childish (or naive) song. Press next if you have the CD version. " Little Lapwing" is about the same during its first half. The instrumental part featuring the orchestration (gosh, those horns!) is just as useless as the previous one. So, you should press next for the second time.

"Song With No Meaning" is, IMO the only one very much Crosby, Stills & Nash oriented. Actually, it features a similar passage as at the end of "Judy Blue Eyes". It is one of the few good songs of this album.

"Blue Johns Blues" is the longest number of this album (almost seven minutes). It allows BJH to investigate a bit more in the songwritting, very low vocals with piano in the backgroung during the intro and then more rock-oriented with some slide guitar effects. I have to say, that this profile (the rocking one) is not my fave of this band. John Lees trying to sound as Alvin Lee (Ten Years After, a great blues and rock band by the way) in his vocal part is not really my cup of tea.

"The Poet" is a very pastoral piece of music. Very much in the mood of the album. Maybe, slightly superior to most of the songs here. But I think that only the band would have been better. These orchestrations are really too much for my ears. It sounds as a soundtrack number. Only the last twenty seconds are appealing to me. Not more.

The best BJH album of this era is undoubtfully, "Once Again". Besides, there will be three very average records of which this one. Symphonic only due to the addition of an orchestra. Not by the music. Most of the time, this album sounds pure folkish and lacks in personality.

Their choice of having an orchestra along with the core band will lead them into major financial problems. It will be the essence of BJH sound during their Harvest years, though. I far much prefer their "Polydor" sound (at least during four or five albums).

I might have listened to this album in its entirety maybe five times at the time of purchase. I have to admit, that to have listened to it again for the purpose of this review, will not turn me into a ultimate fan of these short stories.

Two stars.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Yes, we have been charmed by the first BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST albums. Would BJH AND OTHER SHORT STORIES do the trick as well? not really as some old magic has been repalced by a more ''earhty'' sometimes more aggressive songwriting. Not that this is a bad album, on the contrary there are a few great songs as usual, but a few of them don't do anything for me.

The orchestra is not the culprit here as it is performing discreetly like on the nice MEDICINE MAN adding a lush soundscape to a good song or is bringing some majesty to the closer AFTER THE DAY. It's just that some songs are kind of weak like the west-coast sounding LITTLE LAPWING with its poor bland symphonic arrangement at the end. This is not LES HOLROYD at his best.

The same goes for JOHN LEES whos starts to find his voice on this album. HARRY'S SONG or BLUE JOHN BLUES are attempts at sounding more ''rock'' with LEES vocals sounding sometimes kind of harsh, not in the BJH style we know! We are a world away from SHE SAID or MOCKINGBIRD. Not that BLUE JOHN BLUES in a bad song, it has its character and charm , but it's quite dragging a little bit and doesn't fit at all with the rest of the album.

The highlights are the beautiful delicate ballad SONG WITH NO MEANING, one of those BJH trademark songs where everything is perfect in a perfect world, sweet melody and lush arrangements and the last 2 tracks THE POET and AFTER THE DAY which have been bridged together and can been heard as a mini-epic. THE POET is sung wonderfully by WOOLY WOLSTENHOME only accompanied by the orchestra. This song is the perfect example when i meant you are viewing romantic old country England when you listen to this tune, very pastoral indeed! AFTER THE DAY is BJH as its most symphonic reminding us of the orchestral goodies of the first 2 albums. The band has joined the orchestra and a beautiful sounding harpsichord leads the music to heaven again . John LEES guitar just sounds perfect , delivering simple but beautiful melodic lines to the song. The only bad thing is that it ends up quite abruptly and we are back on earth.

BJH AND OTHER SHORT STORIES is definitely not an essential purchase, not even to the BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST fan,but it is still a good album, but kind of raw compared to the first 2 LPs. BJH did better in the past and will do better in the future.


Review by kenethlevine
3 stars After establishing a sound that blew the socks off contemporaries on "Once Again", BJH decided to stretch themselves out again. While the results are not as sketchy as on their debut, "Short Stories" is definitely the beginning of a retrenchment that would last, at least in terms of studio releases, until the switch to the Polydor label. My review is based on the original LP.

The main difference between the self-titled album and this one is that here we are treated to several excellent songs, that remain classic reference points for BJH, in particular the opener and closer, "Medicine Man" and "After The Day". The latter is wed almost inextricably to the sublimely orchestrated "The Poet". In between are featured a most eclectic mix in terms of styles if not quality. "Someone there you Know" and "Ursula" are the two highlights, but" Little Lapwing", "Harry's Song" and "Blue Johns Blues" show that the individuals of the band were not quite ready to write their own material. The songs were not so much group efforts anymore, except those sung by Willy, who seemed best at bringing together the disparate influences of John and Les. The mellotrons remain front row center especially on "After the Day" which seems like a more succinct and down to earth version of "Dark Now my Sky".

Like written short stories, this recording is somewhat hit and miss, sadly showing that the phenomenon of the previous album was less like "Once Again" and more like "One Time Only".

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars BJH and Other Short Stories is the third album from Barclay James Harvest. Itīs a bit different compared to the two first albums which I found very enjoyable. Barclay James Harvest is a band that has a strange effect on me. On one hand I know this is cheesy pop music made up to look like semi-prog and that I should despise this attempt at dragging our beloved genre in a commercial direction, but on the other hand Barclay James Harvest are just so damn good songwriters that I canīt deny their qualities.

The music on BJH and Other Short Stories isnīt as impressive as it was on the first two albums IMO. Barclay James Harvest have moved towards an even more commercial pop form than what they played on the first two albums. The songs are still enjoyable but I think the orchestral parts have become a bit too pop cheesy on many of the songs. Songs like Medicine Man and Song With No Meaning ( with some psychadelic percussion) are still very good though. All songs are very smoothly constructed and with beautiful vocal harmonies to go along of course. Barclay James Harvest is still very influenced by The Beatles and The Moody Blues and it is clearly heard in many of the songs.

The musicianship is good and especially the vocals kill me every time. They are just so excellent.

The production is good but nothing special.

The cover art is typical for a pop album in 1971.

BJH and Other Short Stories is a disappointing album when compared to the first two albums from Barclay James Harvest but itīs still an enjoyable soft prog pop album and Iīll rate it 3 stars for the high quality song writing and beautiful singing. This is not my favorite style but quality canīt be denied.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars A song with no meaning and other short songs

Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories was the third album of Barclay James Harvest and compared to the previous two it was something of a disappointment. There are indeed some pleasant tunes here, but it is a bit hard to see what is supposed to be progressive about this music. Also, though competent musicians, they lack something distinctive, something that makes them stand out from the crowd. Indeed, they sound rather anonymous here and lacking any strong musical identity of their own. The previous two albums were better and had stronger and more Prog-relevant material. This is basically a Folk Rock album with only The Poet/After The Day being a symphonic Rock song.

If this band ever could claim to be an important band in a Prog context, they cannot site the present album as a reference! It must be with the two first albums that they were able to make some kind of impact on the progressive world.

The best songs here like Medicine Man and The Poet/After The Day are featured in better and more interesting versions on live recordings.

Only for fans this one

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Third album from BJH, this one pretending that they've had longer stories to say, of which I am totally unaware. Aside this nit-picking, the album comes with a totally un-committing cover artwork that announces fairly well the equally un-committing contents on the disc. Indeed if Once Again had shown vast improvement and promised much more for the future, it is pretty hard to see where they managed this.

One neutral observer might even suggest a regression of some kind, although not returning to the debut's mess. I will therefore provide you with exhibit A to prove my point, the regression of group- written tracks to 2 (down from 4) and the fact that the songwriters tend to hog the main roles in their compositions: in Les Holroyd's two tracks, he plays almost everything except drums and allows Wooly and Lees to just vocalize,; to which replied Wooly on Ursula. Plenty of fillers like Someone There You Know, Harry's Song (where the group play as a trio) and second-rate material still unable to hide their inspiration (ex; Ursula is Lennon Beatles inspiration)

The album started well enough on the heavily orchestrated Medicine Man, a song that starts on impressive cellos, before the rest of the orchestra joins in gradually to render the song close to cheddar valley. The only noteworthy track on the A-side, the rest is fillers or duds. As for the flipside, it starts with the very promising West-coast-sounding Song With No Meaning and those CSN&Y harmonies, but it's so far only the second track worth retaining. On a completely different realm with the atypical and interminable Blue Johns Blues, a track that shows the band can indeed sound louder, but certainly not better. I suppose many fans will love the orchestra-only The Poet, but to me, this is again veering Stilton county. But as Poet leads into After The Day, the group just drops one f their bombs (sonically and literally at the end of the tune) with its best track so far. Indeed, After The Day is a dramatic tune that gets heavy on the emotions and features some of the eeriest guitars.

A very poor showing in a patchy album that seemed to be on the verge of separation (unsubstantiated speculation on my part) and future financial problems eventually leading them into bankruptcy. Barclay Lames Hardest, the orchestra and this kind of album are exactly what the large public holds against prog, and by god, BJH did a ton of these that there is enough Shropshire blue cheese to feed China for two centuries. Not really bad, but you'd better

Review by Moogtron III
3 stars Is there a bad Barclay James Harvest album? BJH always had a basic quality in song writing. There are very good albums, and less good albums, but no bad albums.

"BJH And Other Short Stories" is not one of their best albums, still it's a charming album. Once again they were using an orchestra, and the sound of the album is good.

So why is it not one of their better albums? Because there aren't many standout compositions on this album, not as much as on, for instance, "Everyone Is Everybody Else". Still, there are at least three compositions that are classics: Medicine Man, and the twin songs (albeit written by different persons) The Poet and After The Day. The latter two belong two the very best that BJH have ever written, so if you like BJH, you shouldn't miss this album at all. Actually, I bought the cd mainly because of those two songs, which some friend had taped for me some time ago.

If you buy the remastered version (which you really should, like with any of the Barclay albums: a lot of extra songs, interesting liner notes, and the original artwork is within the booklet, and I have the idea that the sound is much better, which can be an important factor in enjoying BJH) you find that there is also an alternative version of their classic song Galadriel.

Not one of their best albums, but if you like Barclay, it's still enjoyable from A to Z. And the last two songs are spine chilling. For me: maybe the best they have ever released.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars BJH followed up 1971's Once Again by releasing the aptly titled And Other Short Stories later that same year. And Other Short Stories is a collection of comparitively short songs, a blend of rock-inspired tracks and folk-inflected ballads, but also displaying a notable West Coast influence.

Medicine Man is a suitably attention-grabbing opener, although the extended version on the 1974 live album is far superior. Someone There You Know is a pleasant romantic ballad featuring Mellotron, exciting guitar licks and some Crosby, Stills & Nash inspired harmonies. We then have Harry's Song, a fairly unmemorable John Lees composition. Ursula (The Swansea Song) is better; a lovely folksy ballad with Woolly's Mellotron-flute being particularly nice. An obvious reference point for this song is Voices In The Sky by The Moodies. Side One of the original album concludes with Little Lapwing, with Les Holroyd sounding uncannily like Graham Nash. This track has a strong West Coast feel with Les playing steel guitar. However the track concludes with a brass band to the fore, obviously influenced by BJH's ''oop north'' roots.

Song With No Meaning is another lovely tune featuring vocal harmonies that sound overtly like CSN. The John Lees penned Blue John's Blues starts off sounding a bit like James Taylor, before building to become a John Lennon rocker. Sounds like a filler to my ears. The album then concludes with the mini-epic pairing of Woolly's orchestral piece The Poet, and the apocalyptic After The Day which erupts with searing Mellotron similar to Epitaph by King Crimson (who else!), blistering guitar and an atomic explosion at the end. Considering the pastoral nature of the rest of the album, this is a very dark ending.

The music on offer here is not especially challenging or demanding, so serious prog-heads should probably look elsewhere. Even by BJH's own standards this album is fairly light, with the exception of the end track. However I've always felt it was under-rated, and in Medicine Man and After The Day it features two of BJH's all-time classic songs. And Other Short Stories is like an old friend to me, so 4 stars.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album is a huge letdown compared to the bands promising debut and it's follow-up Once Again. It's as if Barclay James Harvest didn't realize that they were on the right track with Once Again so they once again went for an inconsistent release which featured a bunch of different compositions that reminiscent of the popular music scene of the time.

Still it might be unfair for me to blame Barclay James Harvest for switching their gears since the band didn't give up entirely on their progressive sound and the two final tracks still give us, the listeners, hope for the better things to come. The band will later improve on two of this albums highlights, Medicine Man and After The Day, on their live album Barclay James Harvest Live. Medicine Man gets transformed into a fully fletched epic of a composition while After The Day finally gets rid of the hideous karaoke sounding vocals during the chorus sections.

My suggestion is to buy the 1974-live album, that is if you manage to find it, and skip this release entirely.

**** star songs: Medicine Man (3:56) The Poet (5:33) After The Day (4:05)

*** star songs: Someone There You Know (3:47) Harry's Song (3:52) Ursula (The Swansea Song) (2:54) Little Lapwing (4:56) Song With No Meaning (4:21) Blue John Blues (6:50)

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars 'Short Stories' has to be considered a bit of a letdown for BJH fans after their groundbreaking orchestral-folk debut and stellar follow-up 'Once Again'. The songs on this one remind me just a bit of the Moody Blues' 'On the Threshold of a Dream', and not just because both bands' music was steeped in orchestral arrangements and emotive, affecting vocals. In both cases the bands were coming off heavy touring schedules and in the midst of lots of pressure from their labels. In both cases the songwriting process was somewhat rushed, resulting in themes familiar to them such as family, relationships and pastoral wordscapes.

And in both cases the groups came up with albums that demonstrated their technical prowess and professionalism but do not rank among their greatest studio efforts.

John Lees does manage to open the record with a keeper though, the still-memorable BJH classic "Medicine Man" with its loose coupling to the theme of the Ray Bradbury novel 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'. His eerie vocals set to Martyn Ford's orchestral arrangements (he replaced Robert John Godfrey for this album) are stellar and instantly memorable. If only the rest of the songs had reached the same bar this would have been a classic album for sure.

The late Wooly Wolstenholme delivered two solid compositions for this record ("Someone There You Know" and "Ursula (The Swansea Song)"). In both cases the theme is lost love, and given the tender delivery I suppose both of them were autobiographical in nature. While both songs are technically proficient, neither advances the band's overall sound much, and in the case of "Ursala" I think the sappy string arrangement takes away from the overall tone of the rest of the tracks on the album.

"Harry's Song" is a bit hard to follow and like "Ursala" is based on a rather personal theme, that of the death of one of John Lees' pet parrots. The first time I heard the words I thought this was a treatise on the callous disregard so many have for common folk and the downtrodden. It was only after seeing liner notes for the reissue and reading other reviews that the real story emerged. I think I prefer to stick with my interpretation anyway.

"Little Lapwig" is another bird song so apparently the lyrics were written by Lees, but Les Holroyd plays pretty much all the guitars on this one and sings as well, and was given the songwriting credits on the original album notes. This is an acoustic number in the vein of much of the band's first album, including the gorgeous harmonizing vocals that the band would slowly move away from as their career progressed. Les also wrote "Song with no Meaning", which is quite laconic as well and probably the weakest track on the album (no offense intended toward Mr. Holyrod).

And "Blue John's Blues" features another typical theme of road-weary musicians, that of a manager whose interests and ethics are in question. The song doesn't do much for me, but Lees plays some wicked guitar along with Wolstenholme's stilted piano tinkling and Lees' rocking vocals show a side of the band that they had previously not revealed. For those reasons I think this was a good choice for inclusion. Wolstenholme actually wrote "The Poet" which appears on the backside of the album as well, so technically he delivered three songs and not two as I stated above. But this is an older tune resurrected I suppose to fill out the album and one that also doesn't quite fit here. Given the infighting and egos that eventually tore the band apart, the story it tells of a pretentious and fickle artist is as much prophecy as it is music.

And speaking of prophecy, Lees closes the album with the apocryphal end-of-world BJH standard "After the Day", possibly the best-known and remembered song from this album. The guitar work is creepy and made even more so by the mournful string effects and echoing treatment on the vocal tracks. This is a depressing song but has all the earmarks of the better BJH work, so in that respect it salvages what would otherwise probably only be a modest effort.

While this is certainly not the best Barclay James Harvest album, it is at least among the better work they did which was most of everything they released before the end of the seventies. The first and last songs are the best on this album, and are also the only ones I personally would include on a 'Best of' collection were I picking the tracklist. I'm going to lay four stars on this, but with the caveat that it really is more like 3.6 but deserves the bump simply because it stands up almost as well now as when it was first released. If you are new to the band pick up their first two records and 'Octoberon' before you check this one out, but once you've gotten that far this one certainly belongs in your collection too.


Review by kev rowland
3 stars By the time the band came to record their third album there were some changes in the BJH camp with a new producer and also the sacking of RJG (who later formed some outfit called The Enid). Reviews had been favourable to date but the band were still to make any kind of commercial breakthrough. Starting with "Medicine Man" 'And Other Short Stories' they were showing more of the consistency and genuine identity that had started to come through on the previous album. When they turned it on (as during "Someone There You Know") there was a very strong presence, as it contrasted greatly with the harmonies and gentleness of much of their work. With four of the nine songs credited to John Lees he was starting to make his presence as a composer and singer felt, and he was starting to guide the band into a different musical direction which would come to fruition years later when he was providing the more rocky numbers to contrast against Les's softer numbers. "Little Lapwing" is another highlight, with Les's soft, almost frail, vocals pitted against an acoustic guitar with subtle orchestration.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nš 633

"Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories" is the third studio album of Barclay James Harvest that was released in 1971, such as happened with their previous studio album "Once Again". It represents their third album released to Harvest Records. With this album, essentially the formula is still unchanged. The classic Barclay James Harvest sound is in place, with harmonies and orchestra and the Mellotron and the stuff in general are all in place. However, in relation to their previous album, "Once Again", we can say that it represents a step back in relation to the prog rock music and even in its quality. The overall feel of the album is one of peace and tranquillity, emphasised by the use of the orchestra.

"Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories" has nine tracks. The first track "Medicine Man" written by John Lees is a John Lees' classic opener which was inspired by the Ray Bradbury's novel, "Something Wicked This Way Comes". It's a superb song to open the album with beautiful vocal performance and also with a fantastic and memorable orchestral arrangement. This is a song that represents one of the highest musical moments on the album. The second track "Someone There You Know" written by Woolly Wolstenholme was a song written about a failed love affair. It's a nice song with a very catchy melody, good guitar and keyboard works, inspired harmony, and the final result is a pleasant and romantic ballad to hear. The third track "Harry's Song" written by John Lees was inspired after the death of a much-loved family pet, a blue Amazon parrot. It's a simple song made to sound as a rocking number. It isn't a bad song, but I sincerely think it isn't a very inspired song and the final result isn't very convincing. John Lees wrote much better things in his career. The fourth track "Ursula (The Swansea Song)" written by Woolly Wolstenholme is another song written about a failed love affair, and represents a particularly traumatic time in his life. It's a simple and beautiful song with nice melody and a beautiful Mellotron work. It has a lovely poetry work, is very well played and is carefully arranged. After so many years it still remains nice, fresh and pleasant to hear. The fifth track "Little Lapwing" although the song is credited to Les Holroyd, John Lees wrote the lyrics and once more he returned at which seems to be one of his favourite themes on this album, birds for inspiration. This is an acoustic song composed in the vein of much of the songs of their eponymous debut studio album. It's a nice and simple song where Les Holroyd not only played bass but also performed almost of the musical instruments. The sixth track "Song With No Meaning" written by Les Holroyd is another song composed in the same vein of the previous. It's essentially a typical English pastoral acoustic song where Les Holroyd once again played almost all the musical instruments. It's another simple and nice song, slightly laconic and probably represents the weakest musical moment on the album. The seventh track "Blue John's Blues" written by John Lees is a song based in the point of view of John Lees about the music business and the position the band found itself at the time. It's the other song of the album written to sound as a rocking number. It's a nice rock song with some good guitar work, nice piano and John Lees rocking vocals, which shows a side of the band not revealed by them until that moment. The eighth track "The Poet" written by Woolly Wolstenholme is in reality a fantastic mini-epic orchestral piece. It's a small but at the same time a perfect and majestic piece that proves the skills of Woolly Wolstenholme as a brilliant composer and shows perfectly well his musical influences of the classical music. This is a great song that makes the perfect bridge to the next and the final song of the album and forms a terrific two part ending of the album. The ninth track "After The Day" written by John Lees is an apocalyptic song that shows John's vision of Armageddon, which literally closes the album in a great and very bombastic style. It's a great song with a fantastic guitar work and a majestic Mellotron work. It's truly a symphonic piece of music with an irreproachable orchestral musical arrangement. This is a song that represents a perfect way to close this very interesting and nice album of Barclay James Harvest.

Conclusion: "Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories" is a good studio album of Barclay James Harvest and is also very interesting too. It's true that it isn't as good as "Once Again" is, but it's as good or probably even better than "Barclay James Harvest" is, but it's definitely better than "Baby James Harvest". Relatively to "Once Again", it hasn't the same quality level and the brilliance of "Once Again" and it also doesn't include some of their best and most known tracks such as "Song For Dying", "She Said" and "Mockingbird". In relation to "Barclay James Harvest" it isn't as cohesive and balanced as it is, but musically it's one step ahead of it and is more progressive and has also three great tracks "Medicine Man", "The Poet" and "After The Day". Finally, it's better than "Baby James Harvest" because "Baby James Harvest" isn't also very cohesive and balanced and their tracks are in general weaker and only two of them deserve some special mention, "Summer Soldier" and "Moonwater". So, "Barclay James Harvest And Other Short Stories" is definitely not an essential purchase, by any meaning, but it's a good album for lovers of prog melodic music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars "In this heaving, milling restaurant of rock, Barclay's present another room, just a turn off from the main eating hall. There's a good oak table, skeely steel knives, fresh napkins and a different menu, golden, weaping butter, no smarmy marg, brown bread and something tasty..." I'm quoting Ro ... (read more)

Report this review (#70480) | Posted by rupert | Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The third work announced in 1971 "And Other Short Stories". As for this work to which the act is raised with a dramatic cello, an acoustic sound is collected to various chiefly works. Album where result of experiment in the former work and work beforehand appears. A symphonic arrangement is th ... (read more)

Report this review (#44992) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In this album, Barclay James Harvest show more maturity and feeling. This album have two different styles: one in "Medicine Man", "The Poet" and "After The Show". This songs are epic and very symphonic. "The Poet" show Wooly and your vision of classic music. "Medicine Man" are a John Lee's sy ... (read more)

Report this review (#22611) | Posted by | Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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