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Barclay James  Harvest - Everyone Is Everybody Else CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.90 | 273 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Now that I'm getting around to writing a review of 'Everyone is Everybody Else' I find myself rethinking the four (out of five) stars I gave to 'Baby Harvest' some time back. The reasons for the volte-face are quite simple. First, this album (the band's first on the Polydor label) was much more well-thought-out and organized than 'Baby Harvest' with its revamped closing epic, the weird rolling credits-like "Thank You" and lack of overall thematic or aural continuity. And second, this one seems to have the mood and tone of more of a true team effort despite the poor choice of hard-rock impresario Rodger Bain as producer which reportedly caused friction, especially between Bain, John Lees and keyboardist Wooly Wolstenholme.

No matter, I'm not going to go back and revisit that decision. But I am going to sprinkle faint praise on this album even though it came out at a time when this sort of music was so much in decline as to be almost non-existent, very much in the process of being replaced by glossy pop, disco, and aging progressive and folk rockers reconstituted as easy- listening pop-country and arena rock acts. Despite their sound becoming rapidly outdated Barclay James Harvest stayed the course and as a result managed to crank out a handful of very solid psych/folk progressive albums that stand up and are appreciated today far more than when they were new.

As with the last album the orchestral arrangements are gone on this one, replaced solely by Wolstenholme's mellotron and other keyboard wizardry. Anyone who's heard the closing "Summer Soldier" from 'Baby Harvest' will recognize Wolstenholme's signature contribution to the band on that song and sprinkled liberally throughout this one, despite the fact Bain, Holroyd and Lees finalized the playlist without including a single Wolstenholme composition. In particular the opening "Child of the Universe" and "For No One" are quite lush with keyboards and mellotron and stand up well with the best of similar acts like the Moody Blues, Camel and Harmonium circa the same period.

The one mild complaint I have about this album is a bitch I have with several lighter, more symphonically-inspired progressive classics of the period; that is, the music tends to be just a tad bit too subtle, too restrained and dare I say too smooth. Pink Floyd perfected smooth with 'Dark Side of the Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here', but they did so without losing that psych tinge or ability to force the listener to come face-to-face with the music and its meaning, and to form a bond with both. This album, while quite technically proficient and even very pleasant to listen to, doesn't quite do that. Right now I find myself having to labor just slightly and (egad) to take notes on what I want to say about it once the music finishes playing. That would certainly never happen with Floyd, or with any of the Moody Blues' big seven albums, or even with a contemporary of this album, Supertramp's 'Crime of the Century', that is every bit as polished and smooth but could never be described as a 'pleasant yet passive listen'.

But I don't have any trouble saying that about the Strawbs 'Hero and Heroine' or Camel's 'Mirage', and I don't have trouble saying it about this one. A very good album, and "The Great 1974 Mining Disaster" in particular is an overlooked gem in the band's catalog.

In the end this is not among their top two or three records despite the fact that airplay and attention from John Peel for this album led to arguably their most productive period in terms of popularity and quantity of work. Three stars in the end, and recommended for anyone who wants to appreciate the entirety of BJH's body of work, but not recommended as much as the EMO records or even 'Octoberon'.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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