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Barclay James  Harvest - Once Again CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.80 | 233 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars When BJH went head to head with the Moody Blues in the early 70s, artistically if not commercially, they compared favourably in that they could rock harder and more convincingly than the Moodys, and their lyrics, while not terribly poetic, were more earthy.

The venomous angst of John Lees' classic "She Said" immediately establishes the band's style in a way that the debut could not: slow paced vocals contrasting with diverse instrumental passages featuring impressive guitars and mellotrons. "Happy Old World" is mostly a plod rock tune that overstays its welcome, but the chorus does have some staying power. BJH was capable of dramatic vocal harmonies too, especially in the majestic "Song for Dying", which was perhaps their first of several excellent anti-war songs. The buildup to the vocal climax of the song is an emotional high for BJH, before it settles into a contemplative mellotron close.

"Galadriel" and "Mocking Bird" are 2 more classics for this album, the first being a gentle Lees love song in which his voice floats above the mellotron and acoustic guitars, the second being a two part epic, one part mysterious allegory about love, the other an orchestral free for all that sounded better on subsequent live versions than here. Again, the band knows how to come down from the bombast to return the listener to a gentle reprise of the main theme.

"Vanessa Simmons" is an intimate song featuring mostly Lees voice and acoustic guitar, and shows how the band, and Lees in particular, straddled the boundaries of folk, a tendency that remained throughout the 70s. "Ball and Chain" is BJH doing what they do worst, and usually once an album, the hard rock song. "Lady Loves" is a lovely almost C&W closer featuring one Alan Parsons on Jew's Harp".

I am ambivalent about whether to round up or down, but ultimately settle on a very strong 4 stars, and certainly the best studio album from Barclay James Harvest while on their eponymous label.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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