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Barclay James  Harvest - Barclay James Harvest  / Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A nice pair

The band's first two albums presented as a single CD. With both albums clocking in at around 40 minutes, it really is a tight squeeze, but if they did have to edit something slightly, I can't spot it.

The two albums sit well together, so it really is a pleasure to hear them back to back in this way. They appear to have been remastered for this release, and the sound reproduction is certainly good.

I believe this particular release has now been deleted, having been replaced by re-releases of the original albums separately, but with bonus tracks. Well worth picking up though if you do not have the albums.

Report this review (#22719)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars [By mistake I wrote a duplicate review for the debut, probably mostly repeating my words from 2005, but I decided to use this text for the double issue of BJH's first two albums. I have named Once Again as one of my favourite albums of the era; I haven't changed that opinion - well, not much anyway - but I rather advice you to read my review of that album than deal with it in detail once again.]

BJH's album debut (many recorded songs preceed it, appearing e.g. as bonus tracks on one of this album's CD editions) seems to divide opinions: to some it's a great start and a true classic, to others it's a badly dated product by a band that's best described as Poor Man's Moody Blues (later in their career they answered to that offensive phrase by writing a song of that title, deliberately mocking 'Nights in White Satin'). The other audible influence is Procol Harum: I could easily imagine 'When The World Was Woken' with its soft organ sound as a Procol song. To me this album is a bit too uneven - and often too sixties style - to be my favourite, but it also includes really beautifully aged tracks that very well deserve the classic status.

As a BJH album it also has the advantage of being better sung than many others (especially John Lees had trouble with his voice later on). The overall tone is moody, calm, non-rocking, dreamy and intimate. These adjectives fit especially well into the tiny and melancholic 'The Iron Maiden'. I love the ancient atmosphere of it. From prog's point of view the highlight is nearly 12-minute closer 'Dark Now My Sky'. I'm not sure if I like its intro with the manic-sounding speech, but it grows into a majestic mini-epic, featuring an orchestration by future ENID leader Robert Godfrey. My rate for this (mostly nicely) aged album: 3 stars, rounded up because this band is generally underrated.

Once Again is not quite a masterpiece either but especially the songwriting was brought to a new level. It's also notably edgier than the debut, but in a good way. And gone is the outdated sixties feel. Highlights: 'She Said', 'Galadriel' and 'Mockinbird'.

Report this review (#593817)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permalink

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