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


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.25 | 183 ratings

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2 stars In 1970 BJH's best years still lay ahead of them with a string of classic albums for Polydor in the mid '70s. On this their eponymously titled debut album, John Lees has still to find his singing voice and Woolly Wolstenholme appears to be the main driving force behind the group's overall sound. Les Holroyd and Woolly share the lead vocals, while John's signature guitar can only be heard intermittently. Woolly's Mellotron only makes an appearance on a couple of tracks, with most orchestral parts being provided by the real thing. Much of that orchestration seems out of place and the general sound is a bit naive and dated.

Taking Some Time On is a standard guitar-based rocker; nothing more, nothing less. Mother Dear is a fairly pleasant acoustic ballad with orchestral string backing. I remember feeling embarassed listening to this song as a teenager in the early '70s, because Woolly was singing to his mother (of course the song is actually about ghostly apparitions). Mellotron finally appears on The Sun Will Never Shine, as well as fuzz guitar playing one of those gloriously plaintive riffs that John Lees excelled at. This melody is backed by swirling organ second time around... very nice, this is more like it! Things take a turn for the worse with the next track however. When The World Was Woken contains some nice alliteration in its title but musically it is dull and goes on too long. Other reviewers have already mentioned the similarity to Procol Harum, but I can also hear Thank You from Led Zeppelin II in the melody. The dissonant horns are dreadful and the orchestration in general sounds like a pastiche of A Day In The Life from Sgt Pepper!

Next up is Good Love Child, a basic Beatles rock'n'roller. The organ timbre and general vibe of this song also remind me of I'm Waiting For My Man by Velvet Underground. Seriously! The Iron Maiden is a folk inflected ballad with a pleasant melodic bass line and Mellotron. The epic Dark Now My Sky closes the album in dramatic fashion with some terrific riffing, but as for the orchestral parts and the spoken intro... oh dear.

BJH have always been one of my favourite bands and I feel as if I've slaughtered this album; sorry, but I just don't think it's particularly good. However, although it wasn't the most auspicious of starts for them the seeds had clearly been sewn for the greatness that would eventually follow. In my opinion this one is for fans only.

seventhsojourn | 2/5 |


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