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Barclay James  Harvest - Baby James Harvest CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.03 | 168 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Baby James Harvest is an album I have owned for a fair old number of years, now, and, each time I play it, the more it plays as a sort of curiosity, something I am never quite sure how much to take seriously.

At the time, it was really serious for the band. This was to prove the last of their four albums for the EMI imprint Harvest (they had helped with the name!), but poor sales, and the enormous amount of money chucked away with the touring and recording orchestra, meant that they had become a commercial liability. They left and signed for Polydor after this.

It is a good album but really nothing more, and certainly, in my opinion, the weakest of this particular period, although there are some aspects that serve to keep us all interested. I like the experiment with brass instrumentation on Delphi Town Mum, and, of course, as scions of Northern towns, the boys will have been familiar with the magnificent colliery bands that flourished thereabouts.

There is a genuine classic, and a track which makes the price of the album worth its entrance price alone, in Summer Soldier, widely believed to be a (bitter) commentary on the escalating Troubles of Northern Ireland of the time, and this track, perhaps more than most others, added to the long held satirical blast of BJH as kaftan clad, hopeless, hippies. I love this track, and, in truth, the lyrics were rather brave at the time, commenting as they did on just how damned awful the times were from all perspectives, and how a little bit of peace and love might just be the answer. Oh well, only 30 years ahead of its time. Musically, it was a mix of the experimental (certainly in the way that it was, in reality, two distinct tracks in one) and classic symphonic psych prog, and, all told, it came off very well indeed, and stands up very well in 2014.

Elsewhere, Woolly only really contributed largely to album closer, Moonwater, which was recorded with orchestra separately from the remainder of the album, and this also stands up extremely well as a delicate, pastoral piece of beauty, musically and lyrically.

The remainder is fine, without being remotely exciting or memorable, more like BJH by numbers, I suppose. Thank You, especially, is a strange one, with a glam sort of backdrop, thanking the entire globe for riches had and to come, and Les Holroyd produces a sort of Poor Man's (pardon the pun) David Bowie in One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out

Two tracks, then, which were, and are, superlative, amongst competence and pleasantness, something which could, I think, rather be the final epitaph of this act when we write the final narrative.

Three stars. A good album which fans will have to have, and others might wish to.

lazland | 3/5 |


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