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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Barclay James  Harvest picture
Barclay James Harvest biography
Founded in Oldham, UK in 1966 - Split in 1998 as "John Lees' BJH" and "BJH featuring Les Holroyd" since 2002

In 1966 two R & B bands local to Oldham (UK) merged to form a blues outfit THE BLUES KEEPERS. With sponsorship from a local businessman (also their manager) they rented an 18th century farmhouse where they practised extensively, gradually moving towards a progressive rock style then beginning to emerge. On turning professional the name BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST was adopted, and the line-up stabilised as JOHN LEES (guitars, vocals), LES HOLROYD (bass, rhythm guitar, vocals), STUART "WOOLLY" WOLSTENHOLME (keyboards, vocals) and MEL PRITCHARD (drums). After releasing their first single in April 1968, the band joined the legendary progressive HARVEST label, quickly expanding their musical horizons, chiefly by experimenting with longer evolving song structures and orchestrations. Initially this involved the use of woodwind, strings and brass before acquiring a MELLOTRON, but by the time of the release of their first album 'Barclay James Harvest' in 1970 they were employing an orchestra, the grandly titled BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA led by ROBERT GODFREY who later became a member of THE ENID.

Though producing some of their best melodic progressive work at this time, the orchestra proved to be too expensive and very nearly bankrupted the band, but in 1973 a move to the POLYDOR label saw an upturn in their fortunes. With increasing commercial success, their music began to develop towards simpler song structures with stronger arrangements which caused detractors to dub them 'The Poor Man's Moody Blues'! By 1979 WOOLLY left the band because he had become disillusioned that they had moved away from their Prog roots. They continued into the 1980s as a 3-piece augmented by hired musicians, and with a string of melodic AOR albums finally made a commercial break-through in Europe, particularly in Germany where they played several major outdoor concerts, beginning with a massive free concert on the steps of the historic Reichstag in August 1980.

By the end of the decade the band's popularity was starting to wane. In the 1990s, a traumatic court case and widening musical differences between band members took its toll. In 1998 the two songwriters HOLROYD and LEES agreed to go their separate ways while continuing to work under the umbrella of the old band name. T...
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Videos (YouTube and more)


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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST discography


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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 196 ratings
Barclay James Harvest
1970
3.82 | 272 ratings
Once Again
1971
3.26 | 148 ratings
... And Other Short Stories
1971
3.02 | 153 ratings
Baby James Harvest
1972
3.88 | 250 ratings
Everyone Is Everybody Else
1974
3.66 | 210 ratings
Time Honoured Ghosts
1975
3.77 | 258 ratings
Octoberon
1976
3.38 | 198 ratings
Gone To Earth
1977
3.54 | 159 ratings
XII
1978
2.94 | 125 ratings
Eyes Of The Universe
1979
2.59 | 109 ratings
Turn Of The Tide
1981
2.71 | 97 ratings
Ring of Changes
1983
2.27 | 90 ratings
Victims Of Circumstance
1984
2.58 | 88 ratings
Face to Face
1987
2.91 | 80 ratings
Welcome To The Show
1990
2.56 | 74 ratings
Caught In The Light
1993
2.25 | 66 ratings
River Of Dreams
1997
3.04 | 53 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Nexus
1999
2.33 | 48 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Revolution Days
2002
3.02 | 52 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North
2013

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Stereo Pop Special - 32
1973
5.00 | 1 ratings
Stereo Pop Special - 77
1974
4.40 | 116 ratings
Barclay James Harvest Live
1974
3.75 | 83 ratings
Live Tapes
1978
3.20 | 72 ratings
A Concert For The People (Berlin)
1982
2.92 | 30 ratings
Glasnost
1988
3.30 | 21 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Revival - Live 1999
2000
3.59 | 27 ratings
BBC In Concert 1972
2002
2.05 | 10 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Live In Bonn
2003
3.00 | 10 ratings
Hymn: The Best Of Barclay James Harvest Live
2003
4.00 | 13 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Classic Meets Rock - Live
2006
4.03 | 17 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Legacy - Live At The Shepherd's Bush Empire
2007
3.64 | 11 ratings
High voltage 3CD set
2011
3.39 | 12 ratings
John Lees Barclay James Harvest: Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London
2012
4.25 | 4 ratings
25th Anniversary Concert - Live In London 1992
2012
4.50 | 2 ratings
John Lee's Barclay James Harvest: The 50th Anniversary Concert.
2018
5.00 | 1 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: The Bloomsbury Theatre, London, 30th October 2009
2018

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.88 | 16 ratings
Caught Live
2002
3.24 | 10 ratings
BJH 25th Anniversary Concert
2003
2.42 | 5 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
2.33 | 5 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: On The Road
2005
3.14 | 9 ratings
Glasnost And Victims Of Circumstance
2006
3.54 | 9 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Classic Meets Rock
2006
4.47 | 13 ratings
John Lees Barclay James Harvest: Legacy - Live At The Shepherds Bush Empire (DVD)
2007
4.10 | 10 ratings
Berlin - A Concert For The People
2010
4.25 | 8 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2011

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.30 | 16 ratings
Early Morning Onwards
1972
2.17 | 12 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1977)
1977
2.76 | 10 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest - Volume 2
1979
4.50 | 2 ratings
Mocking Bird - The Early Years
1980
2.53 | 11 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest - Volume 3
1981
2.32 | 9 ratings
The Compact Story Of Barclay James Harvest
1985
2.66 | 9 ratings
Another Arable Parable
1987
1.93 | 12 ratings
Alone We Fly
1990
4.00 | 2 ratings
Twice As Much
1990
3.11 | 13 ratings
The Harvest Years
1991
4.04 | 8 ratings
Barclay James Harvest / Once Again
1992
3.55 | 9 ratings
And Other Short Stories / Baby James Harvest
1992
2.82 | 13 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1992)
1992
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Best of BJH
1992
5.00 | 1 ratings
Twice As Much
1992
2.20 | 6 ratings
Sorcerers And Keepers
1993
3.61 | 6 ratings
Four Barclay James Harvest Originals
1996
3.05 | 5 ratings
Endless Dream
1996
4.00 | 2 ratings
Premium Gold Collection
1996
2.59 | 6 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1997)
1997
2.17 | 4 ratings
Master Series
1999
2.49 | 8 ratings
The Collection
2000
2.17 | 4 ratings
Millennium Edition
2000
2.25 | 5 ratings
Mockingbird
2001
3.34 | 7 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Brave New World
2002
2.14 | 3 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Echoes Of A Brave New World
2003
3.17 | 4 ratings
Baby James Harvest / Once Again
2003
3.00 | 4 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Gold Collection
2003
4.13 | 11 ratings
All Is Safely Gathered In - An Anthology 1967-1997
2005
3.34 | 10 ratings
After the Day: The Radio Recordings 1974-1976
2008
4.00 | 2 ratings
Welcome To The Show - The Best Of Barclay James Harvest
2008
4.50 | 2 ratings
Sea Of Tranquillity - The Polydor Years 1974-1997
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
Starboulevard
2010
4.25 | 7 ratings
Taking some time on (The Parlophone-Harvest years 1968-73)
2011
4.25 | 4 ratings
Child Of The Universe, The Essential Collection
2013

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Early Morning / Mr. Sunshine
1968
2.22 | 4 ratings
Brother Thrush / Poor Wages
1969
3.10 | 2 ratings
Taking Some Time On / The Iron Maiden
1970
4.00 | 3 ratings
She Said
1971
4.00 | 2 ratings
Thank You / Medicine Man
1972
5.00 | 1 ratings
I'm Over You
1972
4.00 | 2 ratings
Rock And Roll Woman / The Joker
1973
4.50 | 2 ratings
Child of the Universe / Crazy City
1974
5.00 | 1 ratings
Poor Boy Blues / Crazy City
1974
3.67 | 3 ratings
Titles
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sweet Jesus / Hymn for the Children
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Time Honoured Ghosts
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rock 'N' Roll Star
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
Gone to Earth EP
1977
3.26 | 8 ratings
Hymn / Our Kid's Kid
1977
4.75 | 4 ratings
Live EP
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Friend of Mine / Suicide
1978
3.00 | 1 ratings
Loving is Easy / Polk Street Rag
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sip of Wine / Hymn
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
Love on the Line
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Capricorn / Berlin
1980
3.83 | 6 ratings
Life Is For Living
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Time Honoured Tracks
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Waiting on the Borderline / Doctor Doctor
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mockingbird
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Child of the Universe / Back to the Wall
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
French Tour 82
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Just a Day Away
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ring of Changes
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
I've Got a Feeling
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
He Said Love
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Panic / All My Life
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
John Lennon's Guitar
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cheap the Bullet
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Halfway to Freedom
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Welcome to the Show
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Stand Up
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Origin of Pieces
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Strangely Mixed
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Au Naturel
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Harris Session (5th july 1971)
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Harris Session (15th march 1972)
2010
4.50 | 2 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Ancient Waves
2014

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Barclay James Harvest by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.26 | 196 ratings

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Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by mickcoxinha

4 stars Barclay James Harvest had very good albuns through all the seventies, but I would say it is the best example of progressive rock. They have some prog tracks here and there, but most of the time it is the exception, not the norm.

The first album might be the most interesting from a prog point of view because here we are talking about an album recorded in 1970, where most of the future major prog acts were not still that different from what BJH was doing at the time: a mix of psychedelia, rock with orchestral arrangements, with folk elements and a just few longer and more complex songs.

The real highlight here is the classically-inspired 12-minute song, Dark Now My Sky, with great piano, guitar and orchestral arrangements, different parts and it is great enough to be considered one of the early "prog classics". Interestingly enough, in the CD with the bonus tracks, you have another version of the same song, a organ-driven ballad with an extra verse that was removed from the lengthy epic.

As for the other songs, there are two psychedelic guitar-driven songs (Taking Some Time On and Good Love Child), two ballads reminiscent from their earlier singles, with some-acoustic pastoral sounds complimented by mellotron or strings (Mother Dear and The Iron Maiden), and two "symphonic rock" songs, either keyboard-based (And The Sun Will Never Shine) or with heavy orchestral arrangements (When The World Was Woken). None of the songs are bad, and the best two are probably the closest to prog (And the Sun Will Never Shine and When the World Was Woken) since, though their structure is pretty straightforward, they have better arrangements and longer instrumental parts.

Whoever gets the edition with bonus tracks will get a nice collection of tunes, with ballads, pastoral and folkish songs. There are but a few hints of what the band would become in the seventies, but there are quite a few interesting tunes. My favorites are Eden Unobtainable (with a mellotron solo), Night, Pools of Blue and Dark Now My Sky.

It might not be the more accomplished BJH album, since it doesn't have the most recognizable songs, nor the hits, but BJH never gets "proggier" than that. For me, it is one of their best albums, although, till Gone to Earth, you can't go wrong with BJH if you like 70s music with good playing, good mellodies, lush keyboard and orchestral arrangements.

 Gone To Earth by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.38 | 198 ratings

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Gone To Earth
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Lupton

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 weeks. The album is best known for "Hymn" and "Poor Man's Moody Blues" but neither of these tracks are my favourites on the album. "Hymn" is an effective opening track and I do like the way the music builds with keyboards and drums being added as it progresses but at just over five minutes is a tad long for such a simple song. Having said that it is hard not to ignore the fact that not only is this song appears to be regarded by most BJH fans as their ultimate Classic as evidenced by the way it usually acts as concert closer.Moreover it also seems to have taken on a life of its own with none other than Sarah Brightman not only covering the song in 2018 but making it the title track of her album released that year and not only that but taking it straight to No1 on the US Classical Music chart. As for "Poor Man's Moody Blues", I always felt that while it was an interesting exercise to de-construct the famous Moody Blues song -"Nights In White Satin", I found the result a little stilted and mannered and frankly would have preferred it to be a "B" side rather than effectively being at nearly 7 minutes the centerpiece of the album or at least side one which it closes.Then again - what do I know?- like "Hymn " it is one of those transcendent songs that has taken on its own life even being used at Greek weddings for the first dance.

For me the real standout tracks are Holroyd's "Hard Hearted Woman" with its catchy hook and funky in a Floydian way outro which leads onto my absolute favoiurite track on the album- Wolstenholme's exquisite "Sea Of Tranquility".I particularly admire the way the composer packs so much into 4 minutes - a true mini proc epic.Also the arrangement is just superb Lees provides a great soaring lead guitar over the top of Wolstenholme's swelling keyboards.

As for the other tracks they are are all fairly good although bordering on straight forward soft rockers. I do particularly like Leper's Song with it phased out and soaring guitar lines. I am not sure if any other reviews have mentioned this but I think this album is superbly well produced, easily their best sounding album and really, in my opinion in the same league as Pink Floyd and Steely Dan in their mid seventies prime.

Overall, while not as ambitious in Progressive terms, this is an immensily enjoyable album

A solid 4 stars

 Octoberon by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.77 | 258 ratings

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Octoberon
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Lupton

3 stars The song goes on forever..............

After the relatively mainstream but immensely enjoyable "Time Honoured Ghosts", BJH decided to get ambitious again with their eighth album, the aptly named "Octoberon".With only seven tracks three of which exceed the seven minute mark and one over six minutes long things look promising from a Prog fan's viewpoint- the possibility of musical development, epic solos etc. The problem is that with the exception of one song- more of that later, the songs are simply long.The opening track "The World Goes On Forever" is really just a fairly slight song stretched to nearly six and a half minutes and to make matters worse the band have decided to use an orchestra again which makes the song even more bloated.The following track "Mayday" actually starts off well with an engaging "Dear Prudence"type guitar riff but again seems to drag on and ends with a rather jarring choir or should that be several choirs all singing different tunes over each other. OK, it's experimental but not particularly enjoyable.The closing track "Suicide?" is another ambitious song which is very melodic with some grim humour ("Don't jump. Let me move my car"!) but again just seems too long.":Rock N' Roll Star" is a straightforward rock song and actually quite catching. The main highlight for me though isthe seven minute plus "Ra" by Wolstenholme. It really is a prog rock masterpiece with a particularly engaging and dramatic intro and outro. Overall though I find the album while ambitious and experimental does not really succeed.

My rating 3 stars

 Time Honoured Ghosts by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 210 ratings

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Time Honoured Ghosts
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars "Mister reap but never sow"

After their sonic-ally powerful Polydor debut, BJH eased off a little on the bombast and focused on their songwriting and melodies with "Time Honoured Ghosts".I find it difficult to be objective with this album because I still remember immediately falling in love with it the very first time I heard the intantly ear-catching riff that introduces the opening track "In My Life".Even now, decades later, I still love every aspect of it; the sensitive production by Elliot Mazer, the melodies and the arrangements,the gorgeous Maxfield Parish inspired cover art and even the album title itself.Elliot Mazer is best known for producing Neil Young and various other American folk rock artists so it is not surprising that this album has a very laid back West Coast feel which might seem strange for a quintessentially English group but actually suits their style of playing and singing with their fondness for jangling guitars and close harmony vocals."Hymn For The Children" almost sounds more like Crosby Stills and Nash than Crosby Stills and Nash.But I also love the way they they incorporate some very delicate as opposed to bombastic proggy elements in these recordings especially the swirling keyboards on "Song For You" and the beautiful melotron and synthesizers backing the otherwise straightforward ballad-"Jonathan"We are also treated to another epic Wolstenholme solo "Beyond The Grave"- has anyone noticed how similar the menacing opening chords sound suspiciously similar to the opening bars of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" released a few (ahem) years later? In some ways I can see why Prog fans might not rate this album highly especially given the way the prog elements are downplayed especially compared to the previous album but ironically for me (as a devoted Prog fan) it is that very subtlety that gives this album its charm.

My Rating-5 Stars

 Everyone Is Everybody Else by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 250 ratings

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Everyone Is Everybody Else
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Lupton

5 stars What a difference a change of label makes. In retrospect being deprived of their precious orchestra was the best thing to happen to BJH. Being effectively forced to toughen up their sound to make up for it made them a far more commercially viable group Gone were the bloated arrangements and tentative melodies and in came some genuinely powerhouse playing and arrangements. Individually, the songs on "Everyone is Everybody Else" stand up extremely well but collectively they make up a song cycle that is frankly stunning- a real case of an album being so much more than a sum of its parts. The legendary English radio presenter and producer, John Peel famously gave a tick next to every track when deciding which tracks he would play on his show- not something he would normally do and it is easy to see why. Every song is an absolute cracker and as a result it is hard to pick out any highlights. There are some obvious standout moments such as the brilliant drum heavy second half of "Paper Wings" and the superb guitar solo in the closing track "For No One" but the playing and arrangements throughout are just about faultless. Interestingly the re-arranged version of "Child Of The Universe" (originally planned as a US single) but apparently never released is actually more dramatic and effective than the original version and is closer to the live version which appears on "Live Tapes"This version is included as a bonus track on the Remastered CD.u Another bonus track is Wolstenholme's mini epic "Maestoso"Even though it is another brilliant, very proggy contribution which was notoriously left off the original album I am not sure where it would have fitted in-something which the producer Roger Bain apparently decided at the last minute. Nevertheless, even without any solo contributions from the keyboard player the album remains an absolute classic which never seems to age.

My rating-5 stars

 Ring of Changes by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.71 | 97 ratings

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Ring of Changes
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars I think that the whole "hey guys, let's hold back rating to this album, because it's not progressive enough" attitude gets finally a bit old when it comes to sit, shut up, and listen to it for a while.

It's not that the vocals had change, or the melodies had stop coming, or the rythmic changes in pace an accent had rendered less impresive than before. It's something much more basic, I think: the mainstream air over several of the tracks. And we all know that mainstream is the enemy. Worse yet, you can hear some vocal harmonies in "Looking From the Outside" clearly reminiscing of the Bee Gees, to the point that probably this song wouldn't be out of place in, let's say, Living Eyes (1981).

Epochal influences, things floating in the air by then, but nothing spoiling the goods. I'll take a risk stating the obvious: these people were musicians, not monks cloistered away from the real world. And I'm glad for that.

 Love on the Line by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1979
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Love on the Line
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars In the late 70's BJH's popularity in the UK was fading. The gradual stylistic change towards more streamlined and contemporary sound only resulted in the leaving of keyboardist Woolly Wolstenholme, whose input also in composing had IMHO been an essential part of the whole, even if his songs were a small minority against those of John Lees and Les Holroyd.

Eyes of the Universe (1979) was the first studio album without Woolly. It's not bad at all, both Lees and Holroyd had written some strong songs rivalling two or three preceding albums. But now into this single containing the two first tracks of the album.

Holroyd's catchy pop-rock piece 'Love on the Line' sounds very American, but is nevertheless quite enjoyable. Curiously the sharp repetitive riff reminds me of The Alan Parsons Project instrumental 'I Robot'.

John Lees' song 'All Right Get Down Boogie (Mu Ala Rusic)' has a disco flavour and terribly hollow tongue- in-cheek lyrics, as one may expect from the idiotic title. Without his energetic guitar work it would be a complete throwaway number. Unfortunately the group increased disco influences on their next album Turn of the Tide (1981) which is much worse than Eyes of the Universe. Sadly this single represents its less impressive side.

 She Said by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
4.00 | 3 ratings

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She Said
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here's the first review for this great single, and some music memories of mine with it, mainly for my own pleasure. My favourite BJH album has "always" been their second one, Once Again (1971) which I bought on CD quite soon after finding the band in the early 2000's (with the aid of internet, but it must have been before ProgArchives). It was much later that I found that for example Everyone Is Everybody Else (1974) is also so good that it could have taken the merit instead. But most likely I would have preferred Once Again as a later discovery as well.

This single happens to contain, IMHO, the best tracks of Once Again, edited to a more single-friendly length from the album versions. Inevitably some of the charm of both the mighty, orchestral album opener 'She Said' (edited from 8:21 to 3:54) and the perennial classic 'Mockingbird' (from 6:39 to 5:20) are lost, but I sympathize the idea of giving these beautiful songs a chance on the singles market, and hopefully they also found their way to radio* at the time. I guess 'Mockingbird' is the best known BJH song, and probably still a concert favourite for John Lees' BJH. It's very romantic and nocturnal without being too sentimental. The edgier and more progressive 'She Said' is actually a brave choice for a single. Respect!

A nice cover drawing, by the way, quite suitable to the music's vintage atmosphere.

[ * A side-note: here in Finland I have sadly never heard any Barclay James Harvest on radio, as far as I remember -- not counting the time I myself played 'Hymn' in 2017, when I made a prog-oriented series on the local university station. ]

 Once Again by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.82 | 272 ratings

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Once Again
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by iluvmarillion

4 stars Like Yes, BJH are largely influenced by Simon and Garfunkel and Vanilla Fudge, but go in an altogether different direction investing in Mellotron instead of organ and a softer more mellow edge to Yes, aiming for a classical/rock fusion than a blues or folk orientated sound. The band often draws comparison to the Moody Blues, not because they sound alike but more because of their common use of Mellotron and soft classical-rock fusion sound.

John Lees, Les Holroyd and Woolly Wolstenholme all share the lead vocals, but there's a sameness in their light tenor voices. Their harmonies don't sound as great as some of the other bands around and they don't have the vocal range of Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Ray Thomas. However, I prefer their instrument playing to the Moody Blues. Mel Pritchard is a fine drummer, once asked to audition as the new drummer of Fairport Convention. Les Holroyd achieves a great groove with his bass guitar. His bass line has a sweet mellow sound reflecting a romantic side of his playing. He and Mel form a very strong connection as a rhythm section.

Like Mike Pinder, Woolly Wolstenholme, a largely self-taught musician and lover of Mahler music, was one of the earliest exponents of the Mellotron using it more as an orchestra substitute than for achieving rock sounds from it (as say Bob Fripp does in King Crimson). He and John Lees met in Art school before teaming up in a rock and roll band in the mid 60's before forming Barclay James Harvest with the other two musicians.

The two clearly stand out numbers on Once Again are the Tolkien inspired Galadriel and Mocking Bird. Both feature superb orchestral arrangements from Robert Godfrey, which perfectly mesh with the rock instrumentation. Mocking Bird is a ballad piece which builds atmospherically from a Bach like series of unresolved chords to full orchestra of violins and trumpets and chorus of voices in the middle section, as it unwinds into the orchestral finish. Galadriel is a haunting number with a gentle guitar riff underneath the organ/ Mellotron before a breakout into a blossoming full orchestra of violins and trumpets, returning to a coda of guitar and Mellotron.

The longest song is the 8 minute opener, She Said, which is a sort of weepy love song with lots of Mellotron and heavy guitar lines and some great bass work and drum fills from Pritchard. The middle section the music comes to an abrupt halt to a salutary whistle before more Mellotron/ drums and then a great guitar solo from Lees. Happy old World, is an interesting environmental protest song with some more great bass lines from Holroyd and nice contributory electric piano and organ from Wolstenholme. Song for the Dying, creeps up on you a bit. You need a couple of listenings to appreciate the way the song builds up from the piano intro into the melancholy theme of the main chorus before the fade out of the bass at the end. Vanessa Simmons features some nice acoustic guitar without standing out and Lady Loves is a fairly standard folk/country song, but the last part of the album is redeemed by Ball and Chain where the band lashes out with some really heavy bluesy electric guitar, drums and bass.

Once Again, might have benefited from a little less angst and melancholy and one or two up tempo songs in the mix just to break the music up. However, the undoubted quality of Mocking Bird and Galadriel, two of the best songs BJH wrote, makes this one of their most memorable albums. One wonders how the album would have sounded if the album had featured orchestra all the way through. Wolstenholme's organ and Mellotron are a perfect compliment to Robert Godfrey's orchestral arrangements.

 Capricorn / Berlin by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
2.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Capricorn / Berlin
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars In the late 70's Barclay James Harvest's waining popularity concentrated on continental Europe. Keyboardist Woolly Wolstenholme left the group which carried on as a trio of Lees, Holroyd and Pritchard, plus the session musicians such as Kevin McAlea. Eyes of the Universe (1979) is the first Woollyless album, but it's hardly much worse than its precedessor XII (1978). A more dramatic change in the style occurred with the next, disco-oriented album Turn of the Tide (1981) which sounds almost awful. Several songs from Eyes of the Universe were edited for possible singles. The two materialized singles were Les Holroyd's 'Love on the Line' and the John Lees composition 'Capricorn', the latter coming out in March 1980.

'Capricorn' is a decent song, not too commercial sounding but certainly not among the album highlights either. The chorus becomes a bit too dominant with its sharp guitar riffs. Roughly a minute shorter than the album version, as well it could have been edited with a heavier hand without losing anything crucial.

The B-side song 'Berlin' is taken from the XII album. Written by Holroyd and inspired by the wall dividing the city in two, the song is one of the many emotionally strong BJH ballads of this era. Piano/synth centred arrangement has the lush orchestral feel typical for BJH prior to Wolstenholme's departure.

2 stars rounded down.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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