You’ve just got to love
“Barclay James Harvest” if only for their
perseverance. Formed in 1967 they are
still going today. One of the first bands
signed to Emi special progressive rock
label Harvest, in 1969 the battle still
rages amongst their hard core fans (yes,
both of them) as to whether the label
was named after the band or the band after
Over their career they have released more
than 20 studio albums and umpteen live
and greatest hits packages with sales
of each album diminishing from the last
as they slip from major records companies
to the small independents.
Always labeled a poor man's Moody Blues,
on 1977’s album “Gone To Earth” they actually
wrote and recorded a song called – yes,
you guessed it - “Poor Man's Moody Blues”.
Today it is still a fan’s favorite in
their live set and shows at least a good
sense of humour.
Originally a four piece, one of whom was
wonderfully nicknamed “Woolly” and an
orchestral director in the George Martin
role; one Robert John Godfrey (who later
went on to form “The Enid” if you like
a poor man's “Barclay James Harvest”).
They released two albums in the space
of a year, and here they are repackaged
and re-released as a two in one C.D. This
certainly represents the best work to
come out of the Barclay James Harvest
camp, a bargain indeed.
To say that the music is overblown and
pretentious is rather an understatement.
In spite of that their debut album did
produce some rather wonderful moments,
Stuart (Woolly) Wolstenholme’s “The Sun
Will Never Shine” has some majestically
sweeping keyboards, predating all this
supposedly relaxing and soothing music
we are told to listen to today in times
of stress (give this dog “Mott the Hoople”
any day), and closing song as it was in
their live act at the time the epic “Dark
Now My Sky”, which was based on the classic
ecological book “Silent Spring” by Rachel
Carson. A little tit-bit for all you greenies
But if Barclay James Harvest have a classic
album, it was the second one, “Once Again”.
The opening number began life as two distinct
songs written by Les Holroyd, which were
linked together with an Elizabethan-style
recorder solo to create “She Said”. For
“Galadriel” John Lees borrowed a blonde
Gibson Epiphone acoustic guitar which
had been left lying around at Abbey Road
by John Lennon. Lees uses this to great
effect to produce a wonderful love song.
The starkly violent song “Ball And Chain”
is certainly as animated as Barclay James
Harvest get with Woolly’s strained vocal
effects being achieved by him singing
his heart out through a paper cup with
the bottom pushed out!!! It also gives
John Lees a chance to stretch out with
the electric six strings.
However, every band has got one classic
song in them. Barclay James Harvest will
always be remembered for the magnificent
“Mocking Bird”, a classic progressive
rock ballad, lyrically of the time it’s
purely about love and peace, but the melody
of the song is nothing short of sumptuous.
The price to this collection is worth
it alone for this one song.
Barclay James Harvest were never one of
the top bands in the world of music, but
certainly deserve their chapter in rock
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew