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

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.24 | 174 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars I must say that due to the musical description on some reviews and a few songs that I heard, always refused to get an album by "The Poor Man's Moody Blues" (This started as a self inflicted joke six years later to the release of the debut, but at this point sounds very precise) better known as BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, but some months ago I got five different ones and sadly there were few surprises (At least in this album).

It's not that they were bad, but there's a fine line that divides decent albums from real masterpieces, at this point of time, the guys from BJH hardly dared to cross it, IMO they didn't even decided what path to take, playing in the border that divides HERMAN'S HERMITS from THE MOODY BLUES, they were some kind of hybrid trapped in time between the British Invasion and early Psychedelia, with some good explorative moments and strong melodies but a lot of boring and extremely simple ballads.

It's hard to believe that they signed with EMI almost simultaneously with PINK FLOYD, while the Floyds were born for greatness; BJH had to improve a lot before being a good band with limited audiences and moderate success due to their lack of originality in most cases and just bad luck in others.

The album starts with "Talking Some Time On" is a simple mainstream track with some Celtic influences but a very common structure for the time, a basic chorus and a simple verse with good arrangements, but nothing innovative, lets remember that for this moment in history the Prog Pioneers were miles ahead of them, not bad but not good either.

"Mother Dear" is a strange ballad with a bit of Gospel sound at certain moments, nothing a couple of nice melodic moments but simply leaves me cold, I can't understand why they are so highly considered being that their music has nothing adventurous or radical, pretty boring.

"The Sun Will Never Shine" starts soft and calmed more or less in the vein of the previous track, but something can be said, some timid changes can be heard, but they don't take risks, they go step by step, only for some short instants they let themselves go and try something interesting, but they keep coming back to the basic tune, reminds me a bit of the British Invasion, but of course several years later.

"When the World was Woken" starts with a short and soft organ intro, but again they fall into the predictable sound with some hints of PROCOL HARUM without the inventive. An orchestral instrumental break creates some expectation but they give a step back to their comfort zone. Must say that strangely the vocals (normally one of their highest points), sound a bit out of key. Again the influence of PROCOL HARUM can be listened but it makes their limitations much more obvious being that BJH is not remotely in the level.

"Good Love Child" is a return to the mid 60's, somehow sound like THE BEATLES meet DONOVAN, not even the repetitive but nice organ and a very decent guitar section can save this song, probably this band would had been a success 6 or 7 years before their time.

"The Iron Maiden" begins with a Medieval touch, but they are not able to keep the atmosphere, the sound is so simple and eclectic that the listener can't guess what do they pretend, and this is very sad, because it's more than obvious that this guys are very competent musicians, but the problem is in the lack of ideas, not in the performance.

The album ends with the epic "Dark Now My Sky" where they seem to take more risks in search of a unique sound, and they accomplish something (at last) a very dramatic piano section is probably the highest point in the album, please, it's obvious this guys were able to do great music if they wanted, but seems they never took risks, why did they waited until the last song to prove us they are capable of more?

Some radical changes (believe it or not, they dared to make them) from soft melodic vocal passages to strong melancholic Neo Classical instrumental sections, gives some hopes for their next album.

If it wasn't for "Dark Now My Sky", I would had given this album no ore than one star, but after this very good rack, they deserve at least 2.5 stars, it's a pity we don't have that feature, so I will stay with 2 stars, being hat I have rated much more solid albums with 3 stars.

Thanks heavens some of their later albums are much better.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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