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Barclay James Harvest - Once Again

Review: 085
Date: 22 Jul 02

 


Rating: 5 Stars for Mocking Bird

Musicians:
Stuart (Woolly) Wolstenholme - Keyboards & Vocals
John Lees - Guitars & Vocals
Mel Pritchard - Drums
Les Holroyd - Bass, Keyboards & Vocals

Tracks Listing:
1. Taking Some Time On
2. Mother Dear
3. The Sun Will Never Shine
4. When The World Was Woken
5. Good Love Child
6. The Iron Maiden
7. Dark Now My Sky
8. She Said
9. Happy Old World
10. Song For Dying
11. Galadriel
12. Mocking Bird
13. Vanessa Simmons
14. Ball And Chain
15. Lady Loves

 


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 the label.

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 out there.

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 anthologies.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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