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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest Gone To Earth album cover
3.41 | 215 ratings | 28 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hymn (5:06)
2. Love Is Like A Violin (4:03)
3. Friend Of Mine (3:30)
4. Poor Man's Moody Blues (6:55)
5. Hard Hearted Woman (4:27)
6. Sea Of Tranquility (4:03)
7. Spirit On The Water (4:49)
8. Leper's Song (3:34)
9. Taking Me Higher (3:07)

Total Time: 39:34

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
10. Lied (5:05) *
11. Our Kid's Kid (B-side) (4:00)
12. Hymn (single edit) (4:26) *
13. Friend Of Mine (single Version - B-side) (3:01)
14. Medicine Man) (A/B side of "BJH Live" EP) (11:53)

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme / keyboards, vocals
- Les Holroyd / bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Maldwyn Reece Tootill

LP Polydor ‎- 2442-148 (1977, UK)

CD Polydor ‎- 800 092-2 (1983, Germany)
CD Polydor ‎- 065 398-2 (2003, UK) Remastered by Paschal Byrne with 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Gone To Earth ratings distribution

(215 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars this is supposed to be their pinnacle or their cornerstone and from my rating you will get that I don't care much for this band. I prefer slightly more the early albums but I don't get why some people make such a big deal of them .I find them tedious , boring , and well over-rated
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A Harvest of Souls?

A lot of fans list this as their favourite BJH album, mainly because in contains of 2 of BJH's best ever tracks.

The first track, "Hymn" has an anthem like feel, which is exploited to the full when performed live. On the face of it, it is overtly religious, describing in brief the life of Christ. There is however an underlying cynicism which leaves the listener to decide for themselves on the true meaning of the song. "Poor man's Moody Blues" is a self depreciating title reflecting the accusation made of BJH over many years, that their music was similar but inferior to that of the Moody Blues. The irony of the title is amplified by the song itself, which is deliberately reminiscent of "Nights in white satin". These 2 tracks are among the best BJH have produced, and "Hymn" in particular appealed well beyond their traditional audience.

Apart from these tracks however, the rest is pretty much standard BJH. The songs are pleasant and accomplished, but for me there are much better BJH tracks on other albums.

The bonus tracks on the recent remaster include a lengthy live version of Medicine Man the original of which appeared on the "..and other short stories" album.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is, again, a mix of folk and rock, even with a slight country influence. I was surprised by the present and elaborated bass. The drums are very good too, not minimal and never aggressive. Usually the rythm is slow. The songs having floating keyboards can be very sad and depressive, but it is never bland. There are many very good smooth parts without bass nor drums. The vocals are often mellow. Some parts sound a bit like SUPERTRAMP. Some songs are catchy. This record is definitely among their best ones.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By the time this album was released, you could tell that the BJH sound had already been affirmed and reaffirmed in an abundantly clear manner. So there's nothing new here. But "Gone to Earth" is nothing to be dismissed or overlooked, since it comprises some undisputed classics of the BJH repertoire, and the band's best qualities are still there, not worn out yet. 'Hymn' is precisely a hymn, solemn as any other hymn, but not based on church organs or over-impressive orchestrations and chorales, but Lee's acoustic 12-string guitar, elegantly supported by Wolstenholme's ethereal synth layers and countermelodies. The final result is quite emotional, indeed, but mostly it feels intimate and serene, more like an act of contemplation than a prayer of adoration. This same spirit is developed in 'Poor Man's Moody Blues', which is mainly Lee's personal reconstruction of The Moody Blues' classic 'Nights in White Satin': Lee's opus is certainly beautiful, but we all must admit - even the most fervent BJH fan - that Justin Hayward has (indirectly) played a major role regarding this song's artistic merits. Other featured highlight in this album are: Wolstenholme's 'Sea of Tranquility', which shows the eerie side of BJH in full splendour; Holroyd's 'Spirit on the Water', a very nice slow number, firmly rooted in the British pop- rock tradition, but wisely taken to an art rock level thanks to Wolstenholme's keyboard parts and the clever use of simplicity in the guitar riffs; and the closure 'Taking Me Higher' - also penned by Holroyd -, the vocals and the instrumentation (floating keyboards, delicate guitar arpeggios) flow effortlessly through an air of somber melancholy. The remaining pieces are fun, nothing special, at times including some attractive moments: here you'll find plain mid-tempo rockers with a slight prog arrangement ('Friend of Mine', 'Leper's Song'), a rocker with a something like a R'n'B feel in it ('Hard Hearted Woman'), and a first-slow-then- a-bit-rockier number ('Love is Like a Violin'). Although this one doesn't impress me as much as their 1974's 'Everyone is Everybody Else', this is a very good album, mainly because it contains a considerable amount of beautiful musical ideas.
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The classic Barclay James Harvest album, with, as always in the polydor period, an excellent cover art! It seems strange to me see that an album like this is so low rated! Ok, it is not an example of hard/prog rock, but its sweetness, its gentleness is a real delight to ears! The contributions of the band members are all great: - Stuart "Wooly" Wolstenholme's one is Sea Of Tranquility (a good name for a progressive music site, isn't it?), which is generally reckoned to be one of his best! The lyrics are about, presumably, the futility of the 60's and 70's space race. He always tries to write music and words in an optimistic and romantic vein. - Les Holroyd's works demonstrate a stronger commercial attitude than the other member's songs, but are all essential in the Barclay James Harvest live reperetoire! I think in particular about Friend Of Mine which has splendid guitar riffs and beautiful voice! Also Hard Hearted Woman, Taking Me Higher and Spirit On The Water are all soft and strong at the same time. - John Lees' songs are the most celebrated of the many he had written: in primis Hymn, a song that, alone, give the album 5 stars, a song rivalled only by Mocking Bird (1971); then Love Is Like A Violin and Poor Man's Moody Blues concepted to de-construct the Moody Blues well-known hit "Nights In White Satin". Ironically the song has become one of the most popular in the BJH repertoire. Other important song, the only one in this album with a stronger rock vein is the beautiful Leper's Song on a man who cannot deal with the pressures of his job. Conclusion: a great album, with a strong personality! Great atmospheres and deep emotions!!
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gone To Earth is another Barclay James Harvest album that's full of beautiful songs that don't seem all that adventurous. A fair amount of the material on this 1977 album reminds me of the kind of music that America (and sometimes even Paul McCartney and The Wings) was doing at the same time. Those looking for BJH's most progressive period should head for their first four albums and look out for tracks like Dark Now My Sky, She Said and Summer Soldier. Having said that, even the previous album Octoberon was distinctly more progressive.

Still, what soul can resist the lush, the beautiful sweeping acoustic ballad Hymn, even the Christianity-bashers will admit that this tune has a majestic feel to it. Or the strong symphonic moods that propel the aching Sea Of Tranquility (We sold our souls for senseless gain). And let's not forget that this is the album that actually contains the song Poor Man's Moody Blues, an ironic shot at critics who accused BJH of being just that. It's one of the last great tracks the band recorded, but be prepared for the similarity of the song to The Moody Blues' Nights In White Satin. It's a fine piece with great orchestration from Woody Wolstenholme, and indeed the most symphonic work on here.

The rest of the material is generally lighter, and seemingly aimed at getting some radio airplay. Love Is Like A Violin is the quintessential Wings like pop/rocker. Hard Hearted Woman is a superb commercial track that manages to have combine some progressive sounds and an infusion of both reggae and disco! Spirit On The Water, The Leper's Song and Taking Me Higher (despite the strong organ presence) are also really nice songs with nary a trace of progressive rock. It all really make you wonder why BJH never broke through to the mainstream.

There's lots of good music here, but it scarcely qualifies as progressive rock. ... 54% on the MPV scale

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gone To Earth is BJH's biggest selling album, launching them on the road to success, at least in continental Europe, but at a cost. Songs here are consciously shorter and more compact without the expansive, sprawling and slightly indulgent arrangements on Octoberon, but still retain the familiar BJH mixture of quality mid-paced soft-rock songs and ballads with varying degrees of Prog-ness.

John's efforts are led by the mighty Hymn, a song that contrasts the misuse of narcotics with a spiritual high. Beginning with strummed acoustic 12-string guitars, each verse builds with an extra musical layer until it finally reaches a rousing and uplifting climax. Hymn soon became a concert set-piece and perennial crowd-pleaser surpassing even Mocking Bird. Yeah! Another John song, Poor Man's Moody Blues, is one you either love or hate. Developed as a means of getting back at the band's critics, one of whom had used this phrase to describe the band, it is a believable re-write of Nights In White Satin. It too became a fan favourite but the synthesized orchestra sounds a little dated now.

As so often, Woolly's contribution stands apart. Sea Of Tranquility is superficially about the old 'space race' but closer attention reveals lyrics that appear to be more autobiographical, suggesting Woolly's disillusionment was already bubbling under. Starting with the warm mellow tones of a Hammond, this highly 'orchestrated' song slides along until finally the band crash in for a rousing crescendo. One of Woolly's unheralded gems but it would be nice to hear it recorded with a real orchestra!

Not to be outdone, Les contributes a couple of crackers too, though inevitably simpler in nature. The understated, and much underrated, Spirit On The Water is his best despite a constricting 'stop-start' arrangement [whereby the song stops, then restarts by repeating the opening bars - an over-used device that blights three of his four songs]. The atmospheric Taking Me Higher is his other high spot, lifted by Woolly's massed keys, John's guitars and lush unvoiced harmonies. Sadly it fades out just when you expect a searing guitar solo to crash in [the definitive version of this song is to be found on Live Tapes where it does indeed rock out at the end].

The remaining four tracks adequately assume a supporting role while failing to grab the attention in the same way. Gone To Earth is a good album with two 5-star and three 4-star songs, but occupying an artificially elevated position in the BJH canon probably due to the presence of Hymn.

Review by chessman
4 stars I bought this on its release back in '77. It was the first, and to date, only BJH album I owned. The other day I purchased from Amazon the remastered cd, and it has brought back lots of happy memories for me. The opening track, 'Hymn' is very much in the Moody Blues camp, with its simple yet powerful acoustic guitars, catchy melody and nice, slow building harmonies. No wonder this band were compared to the Moodies; for me, that is a good thing. A magnificent song! 'Love Is Like A Violin' however, is nothing like the Moodies. The guitar is subtle and interesting, and the verse is atmospheric and slow paced, really lovely in fact, though the chorus lets it down a tad, being a touch pedestrian. A good song though. 'Friend Of Mine' is far closer to the Eagles in style, and in the vocal department. Almost akin to 'Take It Easy' by that band. Funny, I never noticed the similarities with the Eagles back in the '70s, but now I do. Still a decent track though, with a flowing, strong melody. Last track on the old side one is the classic 'Poor Man's Moody Blues' written in response to a journalist's carping about their influences. For once, this song is intentionally like the Moodies, in fact it is like 'Nights In White Satin', and it is a really fine song with even the chorus having the sort of choral effect that 'Nights' had. 'Hard Hearted Woman' has some simple but effective guitar riffing in it, and a solid melody, and this then leads to Wooly Wolstenholme's magnificent opus; 'Sea Of Tranquility' which starts off in a gentle, quite way, and builds wonderfully to a soaring climax. One of the highlights on the album. Another highlight is 'Spirit On The Water', with its infectious rhythm, atmospheric, spacey vocals, and very catchy verse and refrain. It also has more beautiful harmonies and backing vocals. One of my favourites. 'Leper's Song' has some really strong guitar work on it, as befits a track that rocks more than any other here. The musicianship throughout the album is very strong, if understated at times, and the band obviously know how to play! Mention must be made of Mel Pritchard's drumming, which is unobtrusive, yet fits perfectly into the Barclay's overall sound. The keyboards also soar on 'Leper's Song', and it is another highlight for me. 'Taking Me Higher' ends the album beautifully, with its soft, warm harmonies, almost ethereal in texture, flowing in and out of the track, which begins with a short verse before fading out (and up?) slowly. Uplifting in a ghostly way. On the remaster I have, there are some 5 bonus tracks. The first song, 'Lied' is a previously unreleased tune which is decent if unspectacular, whilst the second, 'Our Kid's Kid' was originally a B-side. This is another mid-paced, almost Eagles style song which is ok, though not breathtaking by any means. The next two tracks, 'Hymn' and 'Friend Of Mine' are single versions of the album tracks, and are unnecessary in my opinion, though, again, harmless. Finally comes the epic 'Medicine Man', which is a live track that originally appeared on an EP. This song is very powerful, very well played, and is rightfully regarded as one of the band's classics. A very strong way to end a fine album. For me, I could live without the bonus material (though I do enjoy the last track), but the remaster is very well done and only enhances the overall sound, which is warm and friendly. Four stars methinks.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Once upon a more innocent time I owned, or had at least heard, close to a dozen Barclay James Harvest LPs, plus a solo album (now only dimly recalled) by guitarist John Lees. Years later the only survivor of the bunch is this 1977 effort, arguably the most typical (if not quite the best) album by a group that hasn't aged very well since their mid-70s heyday. The music itself is best heard today as a rose-colored time-capsule artifact, slightly faded with age but providing a handsome portrait of some exclusively English cultural trends of the time.

Compared to other, better-remembered Progressive bands, BJH may have actually been more of a Regressive Rock group. Even their name recalls the pastoral simplicity of an earlier age, and in its better moments the refined, folk-based richness of their music was like an early autumn sunset over the English countryside, so beautifully captured on the album artwork here. (The original vinyl edition featured a clever cutaway front cover, allowing listeners to change the scenery by simply reversing the inner sleeve.)

They were never in the first rank of Prog Rock innovators, but make no mistake: no one could match them for symphonic grandeur, as the album opener "Hymn" makes abundantly clear. This may be the quintessential BJH song, and the combination of lush 12-string guitars, gorgeous vocal harmonies, and gut-shaking bass pedals is enough to make a believer out of even an old, acknowledged skeptic like myself.

Then there's the band's affectionate, tongue-in-cheek "Nights in White Satin" rip-off, self-mockingly titled "Poor Man's Moody Blues". The song itself is every bit as maudlin as the original, but it's hard not to imagine the Harvesters having a good laugh when they wrote and recorded it (or would borrowed and stole be a more accurate phrase?).

Too bad the rest of the album offers little more than the sort of soft rock your parents might approve of: pleasant, inoffensive, and unambitious, not exactly adjectives you want to apply to supposedly Progressive music. Only on "Leper's Song" does the playing exhibit anything close to real aggression, and the blazing guitar work offers some muscular relief to the otherwise radio-friendly conformity of tracks like "Friend of Mine" (with its generic country-western twang) or the closing ballad "Taking Me Higher", both songs closer in spirit to an Eagles or (gag me) Fleetwood Mac LP.

"Gone to Earth" marked the peak of what now might be called the group's classic period, soon to be followed by the obligatory 2-LP live set and a long, slow fade to redundancy, victims (as were so many others) to changing times and trends. Look at it this way: at least the band didn't bend over backwards to radically alter their style just to suit the fashions of the moment, and for that small act of defiance they deserve a little respect and sympathy.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I am one of those who believes that BJH early Polydor years were their best. Creatively, maybe not commercially. They have produced four albums of which the superb "Live" and two of their best studio albums ever released ("Everyone" and "Octoberon). Another one, a bit of a disappointment ("Time..."). I'm afraid this one belongs to the later category and initiates a downhill trend in the quality of their work.

The opener is a mellow folkish ballad submerged by heavy orchestrations. This specific aspect, omni-present in their early Harvest years, has never been appealing to me and are hardly bearable to my ears. It is a pity because as such this song could have been OK (I'll have to wait for some live version to be more positive about this number). Still, I have already mentioned that the injection of some religious aspect in their music was not my cup of tea (although, again, I respect each one's philosphical opinion).

"Love Is Like a Violin" is a combination of a very slow track which rocks for the chorus. Not bad, but where is the symphonic BJH I have praised so much in "Everyone" ? What to say about "Friend of Mine" ? An insipid and vaguely rocking tune, sounding as if it was coming out of another time. The Fab Four influence is obvious (like in their early years).

Finally, the first great track of the album appears now. "Poor Man's Moody Blues". It is of course very much MB oriented ("Nights In White Satin"). It really follows the structure of this wonderful song and even if this one might sound plagiatory for some of you, I have to say that I like it a lot. By far, the highlight of this release. Since it is the longest one as well, I can not complain. A great BJH/MB track but I would have titled it differently ("Moody Blues Fantasy" or something like that). This title implicitly indicates that this track plays in the MB second division and I believe it deserves more consideration. Anyway...

"Hard Hearted Woman" is another mellow and passionless song. Where are the great mellotron sounds from Wooly. Gone to hell, I'm afraid. Instead we'll get some electronic and useless ones. The fan is a bit fooled so far...

I guess that with a title like "Sea of Tranquility", we won't get a rocking number. It reminds me at times "Ra" from "Octoberon" by its quiet and oppressing mood. Even if some orchestration are also to be noticed, this is another good song (but only the third one so far). At least it has some vibrant aspects of the archetype of a BJH song. A bit pompous at the end though.

The last three numbers are typically the ones to be brodcasted in a supermarket to be sure that the customers won't rush out of the shop. Quiet and pleasant music, nice melodies; but again where is the grandeur and the passion one could feel in previous releases ?

The vocal harmonies from "Spirit on the Water" are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash (but they were more inspired, at least during the first part of their career).

The true emotion and beauty generated by their magnificent and typical sound (mostly noticeable on "Everyone" and "Live 74") seems to be all gone (to where?).

Instead BJH has produced a collection of poppish and easy listening music. For sure, they have never released complex music but on this effort, we'll really get too much of useless songs and the overall feeling that prevails is the one of boredom. Too bad.

My disappointment after their very good "Octoberon" is great. I guess that one part of the answer comes from the fact that John and Les have taken full control over BJH (they will both composed four songs on this album) . The only exception is "Sea of Tranquility" co-signed by Wooly and one of the proggiest (the only one ?) of this album.

Two stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars This is the other of BJH's Polydor (post-Harvest) albums I've heard, the other being Time Honoured Ghosts. The very first times I read anything about BJH in the net, long before I found ProgArchives, I remember that this album was praised as their pinnacle. Well, not quite. I love Once Again (1971) the most; from that point on they got gradually worse, and their new phase with another company was delightfully different, somehow fresher and brighter, if not quite as good. And Gone To Earth could be the highlight of THAT era.

'Hymn' is an interesting case. An anthem-type of a song with critical thoughts about God and Jesus. 'Love Is Like a Violin' is something like a ballad with a more rocking chorus. The next song represents straight country rock'n'roll. 'Poor Man's Moody Blues' was a bitter reaction to the press attitude; they took 'Nights In White Satin' and wrote a very similar sounding song. Not very original, but it's a great song, or a re-work of its model.

The rest of the album has some more relatively straight r'n'r stuff with clean production and good arrangement. 'Leper's Song' has Graham Greene's novel A Burnt-Out Case as its inspiration. Wolstenholme wrote and sung the gorgeous 'Sea of Tranquility' that most of these reminds of the more progressive earlier BJH. 'Taking Me Higher' closes the original album with hymnal serenity. The remaster (2003) includes 5 bonuses, two of them single edits of the album songs, one B-side song and one previously unreleased ('Lied' could have been one of the album's less interesting songs), and nearly 12-minute live version of the perennial 'Medicine Man'. It has a different, edgier arrangement than the studio version, but it stays its welcome way too long. All in all, a strong 3-star rock album with an elegant production - or is it perhaps too clean here and there?

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Following the rather uneven OCTOBERON shooting in every direction, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST comes back one year later with GONE TO EARTH, an album showcasing the band at its artistic best. GONE TO EARTH can be compared favorably with their 2 best albums EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE and TIME HONOURED GHOSTS. The cover was once again gorgeous reflecting perfectly the athmosphere of the music the band was playing back then: melodic light prog/symphonic songs.

As usual, LES HOLROYD and guitarist JOHN LEES share right in the middle the writing credits with the exception of one track left to the talent of Stuart WOLSTENHOLME.It reminds me of the BEATLES where LENNON and MCCARTNEY allowed HARRISON to bring one track for each album if they liked it!

There are a lot of goodies on GONE TO EARTH which would become big classics in the BJH repertoire like the anthemic HYMN, a JOHN LEES song at his best: Powerful melody, great instrumentall build-up. Yes the lyrics might turn off some people because of its religious contents but i never really cared for lyrics and their meanings anyway! I am more interested by the melodic side and the musical arrangements than by the ''message''! HYMN is the perfect title for this song as it can be considered as one.This is one of the biggest song of the band, still playing in concert these days, the same way MCCARTNEY performs YESTERDAY.

JOHN LEES is in great form again with LOVE IS LIKE A VIOLIN, a beautiful ethereal melody being broken by a more rockish chorus before returning to the beautifully sung verses. We all know about the harsh critics BJH got some music ''specialized'' writers comparing the band with a poor version of the MOODY BLUES. JOHN LEES, i guess fed up by these never-endingl comments, took care of the problem by writing a song on this subject simply named: POOR MAN'S MOODY BLUES. Lees got his inspiration using the well-known KNIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN from the Moodies, undressed the song to its bones just keeping the structure and then reconstructed it with his own version . A protest song that will become one of the band's biggest hit! Of course, it's reminiscent to the JUSTIN HAYWARD masterpiece, but that's a JOHN LEES nonetheless.

LES HOLROYD can be heard in better form than he was on OCTOBERON. There are no attempts at dull overlong syrupy orchestral ballads this time, but there are a few melodic songs to enjoy like TAKING ME HIGHER or SPIRIT ON THE WATER. They are not as strong as the JOHN LEES compositions , but they flow well with the rest of the album: nice melodies, delicate singing, fine harmonies...all what you're askinf for in a BJH album. LES tries his hand once again at writing a potential commercial hit with HARD HEARTED WOMAN, but why not as long it's a good tune.

HOLROYD is still responsible for writing the least interesting track on GONE TO EARTH with FRIEND OF MINE which sounds like an attempt to apply for a position to be part of the EAGLES! Not bad, but this song is all surrounded by the LEES goodies, so you notice the difference. Knowing WOLSTENHOLME wrote a song named SEA OF TRANQUILITY , you can be certain that you are in for a wonderful trip as usual . I don't think i need to go into details as the title says it all: This is very tranquil indeed, a smooth spacey journey with the usual serene beautiful vocals from WOOLY! Another great gem on this album.

GONE TO EARTH would be a successful album and deserved it.Everybody in the band was on their best feet; No one tried to be a hard rocker or a singer of a syrupy bland ballad.All is well in the BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST kingdom!


Review by kenethlevine
3 stars With "Octoberon" being a modest success in America and the group solidifying their base in Europe, they moved swiftly to capitalize by releasing "Gone to Earth" only about three quarters of a year later. While not as strong and deep as its predecessor, it contained the major song that the group needed to really hit the big time on the continent. Otherwise this is a somewhat schizophrenic effort, although the cover of the original LP was uniformly beautiful and unique. My review is based on this 1977 release.

The song that anchored the album, and appeared to motivate the group to rush out the release, was the opener "Hymn", an uplifting and beautiful Lees song built on a simple 12 string guitar riff. Building within it are trademark harmonies and the atmospheric keyboards of Woolly Wolstenholme. The main verse is repeated several times at the end to solidify the experience. I knew fans of modern 80s music, with no particular religious inclination, who knew nothing of BJH except this tune, and loved it. That is not so much an endorsement as an affirmation of the song's ability to dissolve cultural barriers in music. In Germany the album became a massive hit, largely on the strength of "Hymn".

The rest of side 1 is excellent as well. "Love is Like a Violin" is a placid almost contemplative tune with a surprisingly boisterous chorus. Again, the spacey element is exploited to perfection. The surprise here is "Friend of Mine", which shows a rarely seen country rock side to the group propelled by Holroyd. It is remarkably effective and, after the initial shock and several listens, actually works well in the surroundings of the more progressive numbers. The original side 1 is concluded with the ode to "Nights in White Satin" called "Poor Man's Moody Blues". When I first heard it I did not figure out the connection until the instrumental break after side 2. It is a lovely and languid reconfiguration of the Moody Blues song.

Unfortunately, Side 2 is very uneven and mostly on the negative side. "Hard Hearted Woman" is relatively catchy but shows Les Holroyd's increasing tendency to write simplistic poppy songs even if the arrangements are good. "Spirit on the Water" is an environmental protest song with a great verse, but the chorus and instrumental breaks are lacking intensity. It is somewhat salvaged by more ethereal harmonies as the song concludes. The rest of the side features the gamut of group styles executed halfheartedly with no glue to hold them together. These include a Lees rocker, a swollen Wolstenholme epic, and an unctuous Holroyd closer.

If side one soars, side two is stuck on Earth, and shows BJH succumbing to lazy songwriting and arranging, as well as a complete loss of focus. Nonetheless, enough great material is present to make this one worth getting for anyone into this brand of melodic and easy listening progressive rock.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars A poor man's Moody Blues, indeed!

What a drop in quality from their previous album Octoberon! Calling this band a poor man's Moody Blues might have been (at least slightly) unfair earlier in their career, but in 1977 it was pretty accurate (judging from this album)! Even the band themselves seemed to admit this since they named one of the songs on this album just that - Poor Man's Moody Blues - and this song really sounds like the Moodies' Nights In White Satin too! You could see it as a rip off, but charitably we should (I think) see it more as a kind of tribute to the Moodies.

The album opens with one of it's better tracks, Hymn. This is a song about Jesus, but it is not religious in any obvious way since it really just tells you the story without telling you what to believe. It is clearly a song about religion but not so much a song in religion, if you know what I mean. They sing people say it was a virgin birth, they don't sing that it actually was a virgin birth. Likewise, they sing that Jesus said he was the saviour of us all, they don't sing that he actually was. You can make up your own mind about what to believe. Being a convinced atheist myself, I can still enjoy this song. However, it is certainly not progressive music.

The following three tracks; Love Is Like a Violin, Friend of Mine and the aforementioned Poor Man's Moody Blues are musically boring and lyrically really bad! The lyrics to the chorus of Love Is Like a Violin is extremely cheesy; not really fit for a rock band! In these songs the very same verses and choruses are repeated several times through the song; not fit for professional song writers. Friend of Mine sounds very much like American AOR music. Bands like Boston and Journey come to mind! This song therefore fails completely in impressing this reviewer in any way. I just keep getting the feeling that I've heard it all before. And this is certainly not progressive music!

The second side of the album is clearly better than the first. But even if Hard Hearted Woman rocks harder than any of the tracks on side one, it still doesn't contain anything exciting enough to really grab the listeners attention. The following three tracks, however, made this album worth having for me. Sea of Tranquillity sounds very much like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and this is clearly one of the better tracks of this album. Sprit of the Water reminds me a bit of The Beach Boys, with a good melody. And Leper's Song, the hardest rocking track on this album, is also among the most interesting ones (still, not progressive, though). The closer, Taking Me Higher, however, is again back at the boring style of Poor Man's Moody Blues.

A few good tracks here, but overall not very impressive. In my opinion this is one of the least good of all Barclay James Harvest albums (that I've heard so far).

NOTE: the CD release from 2003 have bonus tracks including a 12 min long live version of Medicine Man. This song is really good, and shows that BJH used to be capable of good things before they had "gone To Earth".

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is in my opinion the last great Barclay James Harvest album. Some might argue that Gone To Earth is a John Lees tour-de-force since the side one features two on his most iconic compositions. Personally I've never been a big fan of the opener Hymn nor Poor Man's Moody Blues and tend to enjoy the latter part of the album a whole lot more.

Hard Hearted Woman might not be progressive rock but it's definitely my personal pick from this album because I just love these great vocal/instrumental melodic hooks and the solo finishes off the track quite nicely. Woolly Wolstenholme manages as always to outdo himself with Sea Of Tranquility and it's a pity that he only wrote one track for each of the last three studio releases.

It's true that Gone to Earth continues the trend from the previous albums which is great but I somehow feel that Holroyd and Lees have become so good at this game that most of the compositions lack the creative and spontaneous sparks I've heard previously. Excellent but not essential.

***** star songs: Hard Hearted Woman (4:27) Sea Of Tranquility (4:03)

**** star songs: Hymn (5:06) Love Is Like A Violin (4:03) Friend Of Mine (3:30) Poor Man's Moody Blues (6:55) Spirit On The Water (4:49) Taking Me Higher (3:07)

*** star songs: Leper's Song (3:34)

Review by lazland
4 stars An exceptional release in 1977 from a band who I have been listening to and revisiting quite a lot lately. In fact, I believe that it might be a good time for them to be generally re-evaluated in a far more positive light than they presently are for their contribution to the genre.

This album contains three genuine classics, and a whole lot more good stuff besides.

Hymn, the opener, is simply beautiful, and one of my favourite tracks of all time. Listening to it again tonight, it certainly carries a bitter sweet irony in the wake of the tragic suicide of Woolly Wolstenholme. On the face of it, this is an overtly religious song, but one which has at its heart a definite gentle cynicism, allowing the listener to make his/her own mind up about its true intent.

Poor Man's Moody Blues, which, if you close your eyes and mind, is Nights In White Satin retold, was a deliberate act by John Lees, obviously absolutely fed up with all of the (sometimes extremely unkind) comparisons to the band that were, by then, described as The Stockbrokers of British Rock. A song dripping with irony, I never felt, as others did, that it was a true tribute, just Lees way of hitting back. Whether it was unintentional or not, what he actually came up with was a lovely song, and I don't think he ever sounded better singing, nor, indeed, the band in their lush sound and harmonies. Perhaps, in hindsight, it is better to listen and regard it as a wonderful love song that was in stark, and welcome, contrast to the chaos of punk that was raging around our country at the time.

Taking Me Higher closes the album, and is a portent of the direction the band would take with later releases. Only just over three minutes in length, this is another gentle ballad, this time written by Les Holroyd, backed especially by some fine keyboard work by Woolly.

So much for the highlights. Elsewhere, the remainder ain't half bad, either. Hard Hearted Woman is more upbeat that anything else on the album and features some great bass work by Holroyd especially. Almost funky and danceable to, it's a very good piece of music.

Sea Of Tranquility is Wolstenholme's sole compositional contribution to the album, and it is a blinder. Spacey (no pun intended) and written and performed as just the type of symphonic masterpiece that made the band's name in the first place, it is a joy.

The rest is just what makes me enjoy the band. Melodic, flowing vocals and harmonies, and very easy listening compositions, which, in the hands of a band as good as this, is by no means a bad thing.

It is not good enough to be a masterpiece, and I don't think that the band themselves would place it there. It is, however, an excellent album and one of the finest crossover albums I own.

Four stars and highly recommended to those who wish to explore these unsung heroes of English melodic rock further.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars 'Gone to Earth' is apparently the most commercially successful Barclay James Harvest album and especially in Germany where for some reason it launched itself onto the top- selling albums charts there and stayed until well into 1980.

The band apparently was pleased with the results of self-producing the prior year's 'Octoberon' along with David Rohl (Mandalaband), so much so in fact that they retired to Strawberry Studios in the early spring of 1977 to do it again. 'Gone to Earth' is the result.

There are definitely similarities between the two albums, although of the two this one is a bit more rocking without an orchestra or choir, and tends to eschew most synthesized orchestral sounds in favor of more straightforward organ and piano to complement Lees' ever-soaring guitar work.

The opening "Hymn" is about as perfect an example of a prototypical Barclay James Harvest song as you'll find anywhere. It has everything: Woolly Wolstenholme's grand organ framing a spacious and building rhythm; Lees' efficient yet brilliant guitar riffs; Mel Pritchard's quietly supportive percussion with its sense of effortless brilliance in placement of rolls and snares; Les Holroyd's comfortable accompaniment on both rhythm guitar and vocals; and a theme for the ages (self-destructive behavior and particularly substance abuse) that respects and acknowledges a moral compass without being preachy or judgmental. This one belongs on every hit collection or anthology of the band, and should be included in any mix playlists you make of their music as well. I could say the same for "Spirit on the Water" although it doesn't stand out in quite the way this one does.

"Love if Like a Violin" is a typical British pop-rock tune of the mid-seventies and could have come from the likes of 10cc, Supertramp, Decameron, Heron or any of a hundred similar bands. Decent but not noteworthy. "Friend of Mine" on the other hand shows some signs of influences from the band's earlier foray into recording on the U.S. West Coast with their 'Time Honoured Ghosts' release. This one has the same easy country-rock feel with contemporary white-blues riffs, simple rhythm and the sheen of solid production. I'm surprised this one didn't end up on the radio mixed in with a bunch of Eagles, Poco and Firefall singles. I'd make the same comments about "Hard Hearted Women" which appears on the flip side of the original vinyl release.

And you knew it had to happen eventually. John Lees gets fed up with his band being referred to as 'a poor man's Moody Blues' and speaks out as he does best, with a song. And does so in the most endearing way possible, but taking the same chord structure from the Moody's most famous song "Nights in White Satin" and reworking that as a completely different tune steeped in BJH's own trademark synthesized orchestral sounds and lots and lots of mellotron. Just like the Moodys, only different. Quite brilliant and apparently a fan live show favorite for many years.

"Sea of Tanquility" is a somber and somewhat uncomfortable song from Wolstenholme that is, like pretty much everything he wrote, full of bombastic keyboards, mellotron, layered real and synthesized vocal accompaniment, and in general a majestic, sweeping piece of music. The theme is about the 'space race' of that day, and Woolly takes a dim view of the ultimate value of likely outcome of the effort. Some, including the band itself have suggested that the words may also represent his feelings toward his involvement in the band, and in fact he would depart less than two years after the album's release.

I really like the way this album ends. "Leper's Song" is almost a requiem for a time in music that is fast fading, but is delivered with an almost defiant energy much like so much of Roger Hodgson's work with Supertramp around the same time. In fact, once again the band reminds me a lot of Supertramp with soaring guitar and chatty vocals that speak to social alienation in a weirdly uplifting and inclusive way. And the closing "Taking me Higher" is a tender love song set to piano and organ with tender vocals that closes the album in an optimistic way and hints at a bright future for the band's music. This was not to be of course, but for the time being at least Barclay James Harvest was definitely at the top of their game as a creative force.

I can't get into this album quite as much as 'Octoberon' or really even 'Time Honoured Ghosts', the latter which I have a special affinity for due to its American influences. But for BJH fans this is an essential recording, and one that I recommend highly to anyone interested in the band or even in the state of progressive music as the seventies began to wind down. Four stars for sure.


Review by Warthur
3 stars Damn, this is a spooky one. Despite having lyrics still mired in wide-eyed hippy naivity (as though the 1970s had never happened) and some of the most syrupy music BJH would ever muster, somehow Gone to Earth rises above all that to communicate a bleak melancholy that doesn't quite feel reflected in either the compositions or the lyrics but somehow comes across loud and clear anyway. Take the world-weariness of Child of the Universe from Everyone is Everybody Else, crank it up to 11, and you've got it here, in what has to be BJH's most emotionally effective albums. Poor Man's Moody Blues? Maybe, but the Moodies were never quite this moody, nor this blue. Musically speaking, there really isn't much advancement over their previous few albums, but some fans may find the more cynical direction interesting.
Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 716

"Gone To Earth" is the eighth studio album of Barclay James Harvest and was released in 1977. The album's name has a curious and interesting signification. The album's title, "Gone To Earth", refers to the fox hunter's cry used to indicate that the quarry has returned to its lair. It was a big successful album, their most successful and popular album, and it was housed in one of the most beautiful die-cut covers ever. It became the band's largest selling album until today, eventually selling more than a million copies worldwide. On "Gone To Earth", Barclay James Harvest dropped all ambitions about being complex as they never were the band for that anyway. Instead, they were focused on what they did best, writing sweet, symphonic and strongly melodic tunes without any interrupting elements or unnecessary turns.

"Gone To Earth" has nine tracks. The first track "Hymn" written by John Lees is a religious song describing briefly the life of Christ. However, the meaning of the song is dubious and leaves for everyone the true meaning of the song. It's a very powerful song with great melody, incredible instrumental work and it has also a true incredible and luxurious arrangement. This is, without any doubt, a great song, one of their best, one of the most beloved songs by their fans and it's also one of the most performed live on their concerts. The second track "Love Is Like A Violin" written by John Lees is an extremely beautiful song with an ethereal melody that suddenly turns into a rock song. It's also a song with beautiful verses and nice chorus. It represents also one of the best musical moments on the album, indeed. The third track "Friend Of Mine" written by Les Holroyd is, in my opinion, a true surprising track. It shows a country rock side of the group, rarely seen on the band until now. It seems to me that this song reflects yet some influences of the American west coast sound, taken by them when they were in San Francisco. This had been much noticed on their studio album, "Time Honoured Ghosts". This is the weakest track on the album, until now. The fourth track "Poor Man's Moody Blues" written by John Lees is a song that contains two meanings. It's a personal homage of the group to The Moody Blues and their song "Nights In White Satin", and it's also, at the same time, an ironic song whose title song reflects the accusation made to the group, that for many years their music was considered very similar but inferior to The Moody Blues music. As "Hymn", it's also one of their best, one of the most beloved songs by their fans and it's also one of the most performed live on their concerts. It's interesting to note that if Justin Hayward's song is a masterpiece, this John Lees' version is also a great version. The fifth track "Hard Hearted Woman" written by Les Holroyd is a nice song. It's a pleasant song to hear with great bass work, performed by Les Holroyd. It's almost a funky and danceable song but sincerely it doesn't contain anything exciting enough to be considered a true great song. The sixth track "Sea Of Tranquillity" written by Woolly Wolstenholme represents one of the typical pieces of music of him. It's a very pretty piece of music, full of some great bombastic keyboard work and is very well accompanied by great vocal performance performed by him. It's a very progressive song, probably the only totally progressive song on the album. This song represents another high musical moment on the album and gives to it the progressive touch that it needed. The seventh track "Spirit On The Water" written by Les Holroyd is an environment protest song with some good lyrics. The vocal harmonies by the backing vocals are very beautiful and remind me Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or the Eagles. Still, being a nice and pleasant song to hear, it hasn't, in reality, anything special to be considered a great song. The eighth track "Leper's Song" written by Jon Lees is a rocker song, the only truly rock song on the album. This is an interesting song with some nice guitar work. However, despite being a good and nice song of John Lees, it represents, without any doubt, his weakest contribution to this musical work. The ninth and last track "Taking Me Higher" written by Les Holroyd is a nice love song performed almost on piano and organ with tender and beautiful vocals that closes the album in a very soft and quiet way. It's a very calm and nice ballad that finishes the album nicely and harmoniously.

Conclusion: I know that lots of the fans list "Gone To Earth" as their favourite studio album of Barclay James Harvest, mainly because it contains two of the best and most beloved tracks from the band, "Hymn" and "Poor Man's Moody Blues". However, I'm convinced that there are better tracks on their other studio albums. Being "Gone To Earth" a very pleasant and accomplished album, it isn't, in my opinion, a very cohesive and balanced album. It has two great songs, "Hymn" and "Poor Man's Moody Blues", two very good songs "Love Is Like A Violin" and "Sea Of Tranquillity", but the rest is pretty much standard musical material from Barclay James Harvest, actually nothing truly noteworthy, especially the material composed by Les Holroyd is unusually bellow from the quality level in which we were used to. So, my rating of 4 stars is only because "Gone To Earth" has some of the best material ever composed by the band, indeed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Alone We Fly" After the slightly over-ambitious "Octoberon", BJH played to their strengths as singer- songwriters on "Gone To Earth". It clearly paid off because the LP proved to be their best seller especially in Germany where it stayed on the charts for an eye-watering 181 consecutive wee ... (read more)

Report this review (#2486492) | Posted by Lupton | Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars On the 40th anniversary of its release I thought this mid period effort by BJH was worth revisiting. At the time it was well received by their fans and indeed I quite enjoyed listening to its melodic tones at a time when Punk Rock was in its harshest and most iconoclastic phase. For me though it now ... (read more)

Report this review (#1791018) | Posted by Tonbridge Man | Friday, October 6, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Finally BJH return to Earth. "Gone To Earth" is a remarkable step forward from the previous "Octoberon". Finally, the band abandons the pompous atmosphere and the redundant arrangements in favor of simple and melodic songs. For this reason, the general tone of the album is much more varied an ... (read more)

Report this review (#450131) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

1 stars A surprisingly weak album which has fewer redeeming features than you might reasonably expect, since the albums before (Octoberon) and after (XII) are definitely among the better BJH records. Starting with the anodyne and bland HYMN (*) which is almost totally harmonically and rhythmically st ... (read more)

Report this review (#443259) | Posted by _Mike | Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I really don't understand why this band is considerate eclectic prog. except some symphonic parts; there is just a lot of melodic rock and pop music. And all the albums seem as one. Vocal parts are quite good, but to repetitive and with no fluctuation, no feelings, except some melancholy. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#191757) | Posted by chaos8619 | Thursday, December 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Music is about emotion... if not for you then you've got something wrong. This review has to be an emotional review or else it were wrong because this album was the start of a life-long loveaffair ( and addiction ). Way back in 1977 a 12-year-old german boy couldn't believe his ears there' ... (read more)

Report this review (#68415) | Posted by rupert | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The ninth work of BJH released in 1977 "Gone To Earth". The David roll of MANDALABAND is received in the orchestra arrangement. The content is dreamt as usual and a gentle BJH sound is developed. It is polished further, and a mellow tasting increases to naive music to make EAGLES. Mysterious r ... (read more)

Report this review (#60155) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars For some mysterious reason Gone to earth was BJH's breakthrough in German-speaking Europe. Of course Hymn is a great song, never mind the religious lyrics (which are not solely meant to be religious!), Poor man's moody blues gets better and better and Leper's song is another proof of Lees' abi ... (read more)

Report this review (#22662) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When this album was released, you could tell that the BJH sound had mature. Because of this, there's nothing new here. This album contains "Hymn" a folk-rock classic. Two the best songs of BJH: "Poor Mans Moody Blues" and "Sea of Tranquility" (another epic classic of Wooly) and one group of go ... (read more)

Report this review (#22660) | Posted by | Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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