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Kingsnake View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Barclay James Harvest appreciation thread.
    Posted: September 11 2016 at 05:42
Any Barclay James Harvest enthousiasts out here?
To me, one of the most important bands to ever reach my ears and heart.

To start the ball rolling, my top 5 albums and top 5 songs.

Top 5 albums:
1. Octoberon
2. Once Again
3. Everyone is Everybody Else
4. ... and other Short Stories
5. Turn of the Tide

Top 5 songs:
1. The Poet/After the Day
2. Summer Soldier
3. The World Goes On
4. For No One
5. The Song for the Dying


Edited by Kingsnake - September 11 2016 at 05:43
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 11 2016 at 20:26
I don't listen to BJH too much, so here's my top two songs

1. Mocking Bird
2. She Said
I can feel the magic of my world when my mind is touching my soul.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2016 at 01:09
Well, those are great songs. Both from Once Again.

So I guess that's your favorite album.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 11:36
Caught in the Light is a top 50 favorite album of mine. My friends and I played it nonstop in college (not long ago in the 2010s funny enough)

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 11:38
I love this band.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 12:47
I really enjoyed them at the time, mainly Octoberon (I might still have the LP somewhere stacked in the attic).
Now you force me to go and re-listen everything, you devil Wink

Not exactly the same genre but if you prefer your music on a mellower tone maybe will like Cordon Bleu, an album by the Dutch band Solution from around the same era as BJH (for some reason I get the same feeling from both these bands and used to listen them sequentially)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 14:03
With BJH, Jethro Tull and Camel it all started for me.

BJH - Octoberon
Camel - Mirage
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
oh and
Gentle Giant - Free Hand

BJH is indeed very mellow. I already had some music of Moody Blues on cassette, when I was 10 years old or so. So I guess I was born to be a soft-prog enthousiast. :D

Octoberon to this day still is my favorite album and The World Goes On is some kind of anthem to me. My credo, it helps me pull through....
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 16:15
I love all their early work with Stuart Wolstenholme. The Mellotron Master. All excellent, not a single dull song. 3 lead vocalist, each having a style completely own. What bands had 3 lead vocalists ? Not so many. BJH never copied anyone or anything. Totally unique sound. Melodies & singing harmonies second to none. Never get tired of those albums. "Time Honoured Ghosts", from 1975 my fav, perhaps... One of very finest pop bands in the late 60īs really as well, I mean musically. Pioneers of symphonic pop music, they toured with a symphonic orchestra... long time ago. They created timeless music... in the 70īs.
You may see a smile on Tony Banksī face but thatīs unlikely.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2016 at 22:03
I love them........
Today Tomorrow Yesterday Or Next Week...same spat different day!
sometimes someone will pi** you off...trust in yourself
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 02:31
Actually BJH were copying Moody Blues and Beatles, but to great effect.
 
Eventually they had their own sound, and the albums without Wolstenholme are not as good (agreed), but I have some post-Wolstenholme favourites, like Turn of the Tide, but the sympho was gone, and they were sounding a lot more like Bee Gees.
 
I like John Lees as a songwriter. Really underrated. He made several lyrical tributes to Moody Blues, Beatles, David Bowie.
 
Agreed that BJH had a great 3-vocal approach (The Moody Blues and The Beatles did it aswell, to great avail).
Another band symphoband that springs to mind, is Camel. They had three vocalists, but not very good, though.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 02:33
I must also add that the new John Lees' version of BJH is very nice.

Mel and Woolly sadly both died, so there's only Les and John left.
Both touring with their own versions of BJH. I like Lees' version the best. It has that particular romantic sound, and John still plays songs like The Poet/After the Day, Medicine Man and Summer Soldier.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 02:36
Mockingbird was always playing on the stereo in my 6th form common room, and then in my 20s I had a friend who was really into BJH. I quite like them, but all I have is a compilation album. I think my favourite songs of theirs are

Mockingbird
Berlin
Ursula (The Swansea Song)
Hymn
Poor Man's Moody Blues
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 02:43

Hi AlanB,

I think you should try out the following full albums:
 
- Once Again
- Gone to Earth
- XII
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 07:31
Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:

Actually BJH were copying Moody Blues and Beatles, but to great effect.
 
Eventually they had their own sound, and the albums without Wolstenholme are not as good (agreed), but I have some post-Wolstenholme favourites, like Turn of the Tide, but the sympho was gone, and they were sounding a lot more like Bee Gees.
 
I like John Lees as a songwriter. Really underrated. He made several lyrical tributes to Moody Blues, Beatles, David Bowie.
 
Agreed that BJH had a great 3-vocal approach (The Moody Blues and The Beatles did it aswell, to great avail).
Another band symphoband that springs to mind, is Camel. They had three vocalists, but not very good, though.

No they did not copy anybody, they had their very own sound & style from very beginning. Revisit "Early Morning Onwards" compilation album containing singles etc. material prior they studio albums. Of course they got inspiration from both bands mentioned but who didnīt back in the day ? I hear nothing of those bands in the classic BJH sound really. Thatīs why their are so great and more prog than Moodies for me.
Yes, they vocal range is wider than any others, in style & sound.

Otherwise agree. Man, you have a great taste and sense for melody & harmony. Respect. 

You may see a smile on Tony Banksī face but thatīs unlikely.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 07:55
Originally posted by Son.of.Tiresias<div>Otherwise agree. Man, you have a great taste and sense for melody & harmony. Respect. </div><div>[/QUOTE Son.of.Tiresias
Otherwise agree. Man, you have a great taste and sense for melody & harmony. Respect. 
[/QUOTE wrote:

 
Thanks. :D
 
When I said 'copied', I should have said 'inspired by'.
 
Thanks. :D
 
When I said 'copied', I should have said 'inspired by'.
Of course they were not merely a copy of Beatles or Moodies. BJH quickly went beyond the psychrock of the 60's, creating a somewhat unique sound.

The only thing coming close is some songs of the real early King Crimson.
But, to this day, I haven't heard any progband creating something similar to Medicine Man, Mockingbird, Poet/After the Day, Summer Soldier or Song for the Dying.
 
Just because BJH is soft doesn't mean it can't be good. The band's music is really mellow and something to fully enjoy. Especially when walking through nature or relaxing in the grass (on the headphones, of course).
 
The comparison to Beatles and Moodies is alwasy easy (because of the singing bassplayer and guitarplayer).
But on closer view, the comparison is weaker. BJH were in their prime, when both bands were not recording anymore.

And when BJH released Gone to Earth and XII, The Moodies released the weak Octave.
 
Also worth checking is John Lees solo and Wolstenholme solo (also Maestoso).
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 08:05
Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:

Actually BJH were copying Moody Blues and Beatles, but to great effect.
 
Eventually they had their own sound, and the albums without Wolstenholme are not as good (agreed), but I have some post-Wolstenholme favourites, like Turn of the Tide, but the sympho was gone, and they were sounding a lot more like Bee Gees.
 
I like John Lees as a songwriter. Really underrated. He made several lyrical tributes to Moody Blues, Beatles, David Bowie.
 
Agreed that BJH had a great 3-vocal approach (The Moody Blues and The Beatles did it aswell, to great avail).
Another band symphoband that springs to mind, is Camel. They had three vocalists, but not very good, though.

"In the year 1994 I asked Justin Hayward, singer of the Moody Blues (Nights in white satin) in the Moody Blues Newsletter what he think about the song "Poor Manīs Moody Blues" of Barclay James Harvest. He answered: 'It was interesting and I was flattered that they gave us credit that we had been an influence on them'."
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 08:32
John Lees even stated that he wrote the song, because the press were calling them the Poor Man's Moody Blues.

So John took the chords of Night in White Satin and created a new song (with almost the same subject, feel and structure). Where the Moodies had a flutesolo, John played a guitarsolo in the middlesection

Justin sang: "Cause I love you, Yes I love you, Oh how I love you"
 and John sang: "Cause I need you, Yes I want you, Yes I love you".
 
Well, Justin didn't mind, John didn't mind, the fans didn't mind. And now the world has two wonderful songs, instead of one.
John did this kind of thing (paying hommage) a lot in his songs and lyrics.

In The Great 1974 Mining Disaster he borrowed a songtitle from the Bee Gees, and referred lyrically to David Bowie (Man Who Sold the World and Space Oddity).
In  See Me, See You he sang 'Hey Jude' after each chorus.
 
Titles is comprised of songtitles of Beatles' songs.
In Nova Lepidoptera,  John used the titles of popular SF-novels to create the lyrics.
In The Tale of Two Sixties, he pays hommage to almost all his heroes (David Bowie, Buddy Holly, etc.)
 
John is also the only progrock-lyricist that wrote about sex and sexuality (Polk Street Rag was about the movie Deep Throat, Loving Is Easy is about fellatio or even more explicit...)
Even Vanessa Simmons was about a prostitute, but it was less eplicit.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2016 at 16:04
I have been a fan since 1975 when "Child of the Universe" got a LOT of airplay on the Montreal FM station.  I was fascinated by its similarity to the song "Crime of the Century" by Supertramp, but both came out around the same time so I don't think either writer had heard the song by the other.  After that, onward and upward through the 1970s.  My favorite studio albums in approximate order would be

1) Octoberon
2) Everyone is Everybody Else
3) Once Again
4) XII
5) Time Honoured Ghosts/Gone to Earth/Short Stories

The Harvest material was harder hitting but less consistent.  When they lost Woolly they went downhill, but that may have also just been a sign of the times.  Of the post Woolly albums, only "Ring of Changes" seems above average to me, although most have at least a couple of strong tracks.  A few of their early singles are definitely worth seeking out, especially "Early Morning" and "Poor Wages", both available on a lot of compilations.  The most recent album by the John Lees version is probably the best thing since "Ring of Changes", and features several long tracks which are the best, particularly "On Leave" as a tribute to Wolstenholms.

Only saw them live once, in about 2009 at Nearfest.  Great show.  Wolstenholme was more or less the MC, and quite funny.  In retrospect he made a very poignant and prescient remark, referencing a common reaction to a fan telling a friend that they are going to see Barclay James Harvest, something like "Barclay James Harvest?  Aren't they dead".  Woolly said something like "we're working on it.  Or give it time"  Unhappy
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2016 at 06:09
Originally posted by Kingsnake Kingsnake wrote:

John Lees even stated that he wrote the song, because the press were calling them the Poor Man's Moody Blues.

So John took the chords of Night in White Satin and created a new song (with almost the same subject, feel and structure). Where the Moodies had a flutesolo, John played a guitarsolo in the middlesection

Justin sang: "Cause I love you, Yes I love you, Oh how I love you"
 and John sang: "Cause I need you, Yes I want you, Yes I love you".
 
Well, Justin didn't mind, John didn't mind, the fans didn't mind. And now the world has two wonderful songs, instead of one.
John did this kind of thing (paying hommage) a lot in his songs and lyrics.

In The Great 1974 Mining Disaster he borrowed a songtitle from the Bee Gees, and referred lyrically to David Bowie (Man Who Sold the World and Space Oddity).
In  See Me, See You he sang 'Hey Jude' after each chorus.
 
Titles is comprised of songtitles of Beatles' songs.
In Nova Lepidoptera,  John used the titles of popular SF-novels to create the lyrics.
In The Tale of Two Sixties, he pays hommage to almost all his heroes (David Bowie, Buddy Holly, etc.)
 
John is also the only progrock-lyricist that wrote about sex and sexuality (Polk Street Rag was about the movie Deep Throat, Loving Is Easy is about fellatio or even more explicit...)
Even Vanessa Simmons was about a prostitute, but it was less eplicit.

Great post, very informative. Vanessa Simmons, funny kind of name. I didnīt know she was a hooker... Iīm glad John wrote it for her. She must have been a lovely girl. There are many songs about lovely girls in Barclay James Harvest mythology, Iīm delighted that they tell stories about women in a positive sense. Thatīs an important part, makes their music so nice.



Edited by Son.of.Tiresias - September 16 2016 at 06:09
You may see a smile on Tony Banksī face but thatīs unlikely.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2016 at 08:48
BJH are a bit of an enigma for me. "Once Again" is in my top 10 prog albums of all time, possibly top 10 of all albums. It's just a wonderful album from start to finish. I have listened to some of their other albums and never got the same feeling from any of them. I will persevere but so far they're a bit of a one album band for me.
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