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Barclay James  Harvest - Time Honoured Ghosts CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.63 | 194 ratings

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4 stars The 1974 Live album was something of a watershed for BJH as it effected closure on the Anglophile guitar-and-Mellotron anthems of the past. The transitional Time Honoured Ghosts is altogether smoother, lusher and more rounded in all departments, a 'mid-Atlantic' sound that relies more on diverse arrangements and professionalism with the band beginning to think outside the box and consistently producing accomplished and enterprising songs. That it was recorded in California, USA undoubtedly broadened their horizons.

Nearly all songs reach a very high standard, even the weakest retain interest, yet somehow the album lack's the killer punch of a She Said or For No-One to take it onto a higher plain. It would seem that in removing the rough edges they unwittingly [?] also removed many of those proggier 'wow' moments. Another factor is the increased range of keyboards adopted by Woolly, especially organ, replacing the old Mellotron-with-everything approach, though Mellotron is never far away including some orgasmic 'choir' in In My Life.

John's songs are all strong, often lyrically elusive but always interesting and thought provoking, such as his oblique take on prostitution in One Night illustrated by an appropriately jaded ambience to the arrangement. Les's songwriting tended to become somewhat formulaic in later years, but here his songs are fresh and exhilarating though lyrically indifferent. Woolly's sole songwriting contribution, Beyond The Grave, is as always a little off-beat, an 'orchestrated' classic with almost hippy lyrics about the eternal nature of the human soul.

Though BJH never again recorded outside Europe, the die had been cast and trends set in motion which saw their popularity soar as commercial sensibilities were fine-tuned over succeeding albums, though for a while this new direction was convincingly married to the old proggish outlook. Time Honoured Ghosts may not be faultless, but it is a supreme example of a melodic Prog and soft rock blend with the emphasis on quality arrangements rather than grand musical statements. Highly recommended.

Joolz | 4/5 |


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