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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Barclay James  Harvest picture
Barclay James Harvest biography
Founded in Oldham, UK in 1966 - Split in 1998 as "John Lees' BJH" and "BJH featuring Les Holroyd" since 2002

In 1966 two R & B bands local to Oldham (UK) merged to form a blues outfit THE BLUES KEEPERS. With sponsorship from a local businessman (also their manager) they rented an 18th century farmhouse where they practised extensively, gradually moving towards a progressive rock style then beginning to emerge. On turning professional the name BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST was adopted, and the line-up stabilised as JOHN LEES (guitars, vocals), LES HOLROYD (bass, rhythm guitar, vocals), STUART "WOOLLY" WOLSTENHOLME (keyboards, vocals) and MEL PRITCHARD (drums). After releasing their first single in April 1968, the band joined the legendary progressive HARVEST label, quickly expanding their musical horizons, chiefly by experimenting with longer evolving song structures and orchestrations. Initially this involved the use of woodwind, strings and brass before acquiring a MELLOTRON, but by the time of the release of their first album 'Barclay James Harvest' in 1970 they were employing an orchestra, the grandly titled BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA led by ROBERT GODFREY who later became a member of THE ENID.

Though producing some of their best melodic progressive work at this time, the orchestra proved to be too expensive and very nearly bankrupted the band, but in 1973 a move to the POLYDOR label saw an upturn in their fortunes. With increasing commercial success, their music began to develop towards simpler song structures with stronger arrangements which caused detractors to dub them 'The Poor Man's Moody Blues'! By 1979 WOOLLY left the band because he had become disillusioned that they had moved away from their Prog roots. They continued into the 1980s as a 3-piece augmented by hired musicians, and with a string of melodic AOR albums finally made a commercial break-through in Europe, particularly in Germany where they played several major outdoor concerts, beginning with a massive free concert on the steps of the historic Reichstag in August 1980.

By the end of the decade the band's popularity was starting to wane. In the 1990s, a traumatic court case and widening musical differences between band members took its toll. In 1998 the two songwriters HOLROYD and LEES agreed to go their separate ways while continuing to work under the umbrella of the old band name. T...
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Barclay James Harvest vinyl LP album record Once Again - 1st - EX UK SHVL788 USD $52.34 Buy It Now 2h 46m
Everyone Is Everybody Else Barclay James Harvest UK vinyl LP album record USD $24.83 Buy It Now 2h 46m
Barclay James Harvest Once Again - EMI UK vinyl LP album record SHVL788 USD $30.07 Buy It Now 2h 51m
Classic Rock Presents Prog Barclay James Harvest magazine UK AUGUST 2011 USD $17.62 Buy It Now 3h 7m
BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST 1990 cassette WELCOME TO THE SHOW - BJH ex cond. USD $7.40 Buy It Now 3h 11m
Barclay James Harvest XII French vinyl LP album record 2442153 POLYDOR 1978 USD $15.66 Buy It Now 3h 20m
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Barclay James Harvest Live EP - P/S 7" vinyl single record UK 2229198 POLYDOR USD $14.35 Buy It Now 3h 31m
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Titles 7" VINYL UK Polydor 1975 B/W Song For You (2058660) USD $2.78 Buy It Now 4h 12m
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ~ Collection, German LP 1981 USD $8.50 Buy It Now 5h 53m
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Barclay James Harvest - Ring Of Changes (NEW CD) USD $14.73 Buy It Now 6h 16m
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Once Again HARVEST LP NM uk gatefold USD $11.50 [3 bids]
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Mocking Bird (2001) UK 12-track CD NEW / SEALED USD $5.85 Buy It Now 12h 25m
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Barclay James Harvest Time Honoured Ghosts Cd USD $3.92 [0 bids]
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13h 15m
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13h 29m
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Barclay James Harvest - Life Is For Living / Shades Of B Hill - Polydor POSP-195 USD $1.30 Buy It Now 15h 39m
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Barclay James Harvest - Harvest Years (1991) USD $10.47 [0 bids]
16h 39m
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Barclay James Harvest Eyes Of The Universe LP [Polydor POLD5029 VG+/VG] 1979 USD $7.85 [0 bids]
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 160 ratings
Barclay James Harvest
1970
3.80 | 233 ratings
Once Again
1971
3.25 | 120 ratings
... And Other Short Stories
1971
2.99 | 123 ratings
Baby James Harvest
1972
3.85 | 209 ratings
Everyone Is Everybody Else
1974
3.63 | 178 ratings
Time Honoured Ghosts
1975
3.76 | 217 ratings
Octoberon
1976
3.35 | 167 ratings
Gone To Earth
1977
3.55 | 134 ratings
XII
1978
2.93 | 102 ratings
Eyes Of The Universe
1979
2.56 | 90 ratings
Turn Of The Tide
1981
2.68 | 78 ratings
Ring Of Changes
1983
2.24 | 72 ratings
Victims Of Circumstance
1984
2.55 | 72 ratings
Face To Face
1987
2.91 | 67 ratings
Welcome To The Show
1990
2.55 | 58 ratings
Caught In The Light
1993
2.20 | 54 ratings
River Of Dreams
1997
3.01 | 43 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Nexus
1999
2.30 | 38 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Revolution Days
2002
3.02 | 45 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North
2013

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.40 | 101 ratings
Barclay James Harvest Live
1974
3.74 | 71 ratings
Live Tapes
1978
3.15 | 62 ratings
A Concert For The People (Berlin)
1982
2.89 | 26 ratings
Glasnost
1988
3.28 | 19 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Revival - Live 1999
2000
3.56 | 24 ratings
BBC In Concert 1972
2002
1.92 | 8 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Live In Bonn
2003
2.92 | 8 ratings
Hymn: The Best Of Barclay James Harvest Live
2003
3.95 | 10 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Classic Meets Rock - Live
2006
4.00 | 14 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Legacy - Live At The Shepherd's Bush Empire
2007
3.60 | 10 ratings
High voltage 3CD set
2011
3.31 | 10 ratings
John Lees Barclay James Harvest: Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London
2012
4.33 | 3 ratings
25th Anniversary Concert - Live In London 1992
2012

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.85 | 15 ratings
Caught Live
2002
3.18 | 9 ratings
BJH 25th Anniversary Concert
2003
2.18 | 3 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
2.22 | 4 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: On The Road
2005
3.04 | 7 ratings
Glasnost And Victims Of Circumstance
2006
3.51 | 8 ratings
BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Classic Meets Rock
2006
4.45 | 11 ratings
John Lees Barclay James Harvest: Legacy - Live At The Shepherds Bush Empire (DVD)
2007
4.04 | 7 ratings
Berlin - A Concert For The People
2010
4.17 | 6 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2011

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 14 ratings
Early Morning Onwards
1972
2.12 | 10 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1977)
1977
2.71 | 8 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest - Volume 2
1979
2.47 | 9 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest - Volume 3
1981
2.27 | 8 ratings
The Compact Story Of Barclay James Harvest
1985
2.61 | 8 ratings
Another Arable Parable
1987
1.88 | 11 ratings
Alone We Fly
1990
3.00 | 1 ratings
Twice As Much
1990
3.09 | 12 ratings
The Harvest Years
1991
4.02 | 7 ratings
Barclay James Harvest / Once Again
1992
3.52 | 8 ratings
And Other Short Stories / Baby James Harvest
1992
2.80 | 12 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1992)
1992
2.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of BJH
1992
2.08 | 5 ratings
Sorcerers And Keepers
1993
3.58 | 5 ratings
Four Barclay James Harvest Originals
1996
3.00 | 4 ratings
Endless Dream
1996
3.00 | 1 ratings
Premium Gold Collection
1996
2.53 | 5 ratings
The Best Of Barclay James Harvest (1997)
1997
2.05 | 3 ratings
Master Series
1999
2.45 | 7 ratings
The Collection
2000
2.05 | 3 ratings
Millennium Edition
2000
2.09 | 3 ratings
Mockingbird
2001
3.30 | 6 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Brave New World
2002
2.00 | 2 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Echoes Of A Brave New World
2003
3.09 | 3 ratings
Baby James Harvest / Once Again
2003
2.33 | 3 ratings
BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Gold Collection
2003
4.10 | 10 ratings
All Is Safely Gathered In - An Anthology 1967-1997
2005
3.26 | 8 ratings
After the Day: The Radio Recordings 1974-1976
2008
3.00 | 1 ratings
Welcome To The Show - The Best Of Barclay James Harvest
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sea Of Tranquillity - The Polydor Years 1974-1997
2009
4.14 | 5 ratings
Taking some time on (The Parlophone-Harvest years 1968-73)
2011
4.00 | 3 ratings
Child Of The Universe, The Essential Collection
2013

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Early Morning / Mr. Sunshine
1968
2.00 | 2 ratings
Brother Thrush / Poor Wages
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Taking Some Time On / The Iron Maiden
1970
3.00 | 1 ratings
She Said
1971
3.00 | 1 ratings
Thank You / Medicine Man
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Rock And Roll Woman / The Joker
1973
4.00 | 1 ratings
Child of the Universe / Crazy City
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Poor Boy Blues / Crazy City
1974
3.00 | 2 ratings
Titles
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sweet Jesus / Hymn for the Children
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Gone to Earth EP
1977
3.26 | 8 ratings
Hymn / Our Kid's Kid
1977
4.75 | 4 ratings
Live EP
1977
3.00 | 2 ratings
Friend of Mine / Suicide
1978
3.00 | 1 ratings
Loving is Easy / Polk Street Rag
1978
3.83 | 6 ratings
Life Is For Living
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Harris Session (5th july 1971)
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Harris Session (15th march 1972)
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Ancient Waves
2014

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Brother Thrush / Poor Wages by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Brother Thrush / Poor Wages
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 2 stars really. Barclay James Harvest were formed in 1966, in Oldham, Lancashire. Schoolmates John Lees and Stuart Wolstenholme had a band Blues Keepers, while another local band called The Wickeds included Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard. The new quartet cut some demos in the late '67 and were signed to EMI's Parlophone label the following spring. After BJH's folky debut single 'Early Morning' (1968) they were moved onto the new, prog-oriented label, coincidentally named Harvest, which released this second single.

Many years later a music critic bashed BJH as "poor man's Moody Blues", but -- neutrally speaking -- it's quite clear right from the start that they did operate pretty much in the same style as the Moodies, whose poppy and lightly psychedelic proto-prog undoubtedly influenced them. And there's nothing bad or unusual in it; they still had a sound of their own instead of being copycats. However, sometimes some details in their songs sound very much like the Moodies, and 'Brother Thrush' is one of those cases.

The acoustically oriented verse parts of the song are very nice, with a sitar-like guitar sound and later on some organ backing. Cute melody, good vocals. But the chorus, it has high vocal harmonies like they were stolen from a Moody Blues song such as 'Love and Beauty' or 'Dr Livingstone, I Presume'. The sticky chorus becomes too central in the otherwise charming little song.

On the flipside there's a notably stronger song, 'Poor Wages'. This has a darker mood, and more spine in the playing, especially on the rhythm section and a sharp electric guitar solo. The chorus gets repeated again several times, but together with the slower verse parts it forms a dynamic and emotionally deep rock song of the late sixties era. Both songs have appeared on compilations of BJH's early years.

 Barclay James Harvest Live by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Live, 1974
4.40 | 101 ratings

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Barclay James Harvest Live
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "Tons of Trons!"

The best bands are even better on stage, just listen to Welcome Back My Friends, Exit Stage Left, Made In Japan, Uriah Heep Live, Yessongs and Genesis Live. Their live sound is clearly more powerful, dynamic, adventurous and exciting, without all those limitations during the recordings of a studio-album. In the case of BJH, this live CD (London, June 1974) contains trakcs from their studio-albums between 1971 and 1974, all these tracks sound more subdued on the studio-albums. Most remarkable on Live are 3 elements. First the omnipresence of the unsurpassed Mellotron (M300 and M400 models), all live tracks sound way more Mellotron drenched. Second the guitar sound, more raw and powerful. And third the rhythm-section, more fluent and dynamic, especially the drums. These facts make Live to a far more interesting experience than listening to their studio-albums is my conclusion.

From the very first second on Live we can enjoy BJH their pleasant, very melodic and harmonic compositions, loaded with the Mighty Tron. The vocals by John Lees and Les Holroyd are warm (often a bit melancholical undertone) and the guitar sounds moving, in beautiful interplay with the vintage keyboards from the late Wooly Wolstenhome. BJH is not a band that will surprise the proghead with jawdropping skills, complex breaks or elaborate compositions. Their charm is to carry you away with warm and compelling prog (often compared with The Moody Blues), embellished with melodic guitar work and a lush keyboard sound.

My highlights.

Medicine Man (10:25) : A propulsive climate with a catchy beat and lush Mellotron violins. Halfway a break with spectacular pitchbend driven Minimoog synthesizer flights and a distorted bass solo. In the end howling electric guitar runs.

After The Day (7:27) : This wonderful track is a Mellotron Heaven, topped by senstitive electric guitar.

The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (6:30) : First tender electric piano, melancholical vocals and moving electric guitar, then a The Beatles-like atmosphere and again lush Mellotron violins.

She Said (8:33) : A bombastic and compelling climate featuring a dynamic rhythm-section and floods of Mellotron. Halfway a folky flute tune and then a wonderful cunclusion with moving electric guitar and lush Mellotrons.

Paper Wings (4:19) : From a slow rhythm to a catchy beat, topped with a fiery, wah-way drenched guitar solo.

Mockingbird (7:37) : BJH their often used final concert song. It starts dreamy with twanging electric guitar and Mellotron violins, then gradually the atmosphere turns into bombastic, culminating in a climax with moving electric guitar, propulsive drum work, (of course) layered with Mellotrons. The final part returns into dreamy, what a wonderful end of a very beautiful and compelling live album, one of my all time favourite Mellotron records!

 Gone To Earth by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.35 | 167 ratings

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Gone To Earth
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by Tonbridge Man

3 stars On the 40th anniversary of its release I thought this mid period effort by BJH was worth revisiting. At the time it was well received by their fans and indeed I quite enjoyed listening to its melodic tones at a time when Punk Rock was in its harshest and most iconoclastic phase. For me though it now lacks depth in 2017's harsh light and many of the songs while pretty with first rate vocals and harmonies (Les Holroyd's Hard Hearted Woman being a good example) are in truth not the fare of prog fans. Poor Man's Moody Blues finds John Lees at his most mawkish but his Hymn remains the standout track. If you have never listened to BJH look to any of their albums released before this one for more satisfying fare.
 XII by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.55 | 134 ratings

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XII
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by mickcoxinha

3 stars XII is considered by many the last of the classic BJH albums because it is the last with the original lineup; Woolly Wolstenholme would leave after that and the sound would become more and more commercial. For me, it is the last good BJH album, but it is already showing the sign of the times: songs stripped down to simpler arrangements with AOR production are in a considerable number. It is one of the reasons often mentioned when talking about Wolstenholme departure, and his departure would make the band go straight to AOR rock.

Since the first song, you can realize something has changed. Fantasy: Loving Is Easy is a straightforward rock song typical from late 70s, retaining a bit of organ and synthesizer sounds. In this category, we can put Classics: A Tale Of Two Sixties, Turning in Circles, Sip of Wine. Some of these songs have a interesting solo here and there, but mostly straightforward rock. There are also two ballads, Harbour and Giving it Up, mostly in the same vein (late 70s ballads). The only remarkable aspect of them is that their arrangements are a bit more interesting than the "rockers".

As for something different, there is Fact: The Closed Shop, which leans a bit on the folkish sound with flutes, but still contains much of the sounds and production that don't allow it to be much different from the rest. Fiction: The Streets Of San Francisco is interesting in having some american folkish flavor, including harmonica and harmony singing that reminds me a bit of Simon & Garfunkel. It is the best of all the songs already mentioned.

But there is also some lost gems among these ones: Berlin is a great ballad with great arrangements that give a great mood to the song as it progresses.. In Search of England is a beautiful song that evokes some of their best moments in the previous albums (would fit perfectly in Octoberon), with great guitar and keyboard work, and the best sample of traditional BJH symphonic sound along with Science Fiction: Nova Lepidoptera, which is probably the most "progressive" song of the album (which is not much in this case), and retains a great symphonic feel coupled with a subtle, but interesting use of synthesizers.

3 stars because it is still a good album, but BJH was taking great leaps towards the straightforward pop/rock and AOR, so there are many weak songs among the good ones.

 Barclay James Harvest by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.24 | 160 ratings

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Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars I agree with the Progrewier LOSERBOY when he say in his review #22596 (Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004) Barclay James Harvest first album is mainly inspired by The Beatles ,The Moody Blues and Procol Harum... . This is easily perceived in all tracks of this first album, as for instance "Taking Some Time On" , "Good Love Child" "The Sun Will Never Shine" ( The Beatles), "Mother Dear" and "The Iron Miaden" ( The Moody Blues ) and "The World Was Woken" and "Dark Now my Sky" (Procol Harum). However their sound are not a "cheap copy" from these above mentioned bands. In fact the album is a very good debut album, and although their music isn't full of virtuosity is a very pleasurable work for the listeners ! My rate is 4 stars !!!
 Barclay James Harvest Live by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Live, 1974
4.40 | 101 ratings

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Barclay James Harvest Live
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by LunarSea

5 stars Barclay James Harvest Live : 1974

I believe this was the first live album BJH recorded and it was also my introduction to the band back around that time. The impact this album made on me as an impressionable lad was so huge that it is still in my collection today - much loved, and whenever one of these old songs comes up on the playlist on my iphone it still makes me smile with delight.

In terms of actual musicianship these songs aren't rightly what one would describe today as virtuoso in technical terms, and can't rightly be compared to the songs of bands such as Yes or King Chrimson or Dream Theater for tricky time signature or tempo wizardry, and likewise, the sound on the album isn't as polished as what one might expect from a highly edited live album of today. The songs are all fairly basic in terms of technical wizardry and played in standard 4/4 time signature which makes them all very easy to listen to, but at the same time, all very well executed with enthusiasm and power, great vocals, subtle drums and massive keys.

With the possible exception of "She Said" where someone got a bit too enthusiastic with the faders at the production stage and the song goes slightly into overload/distortion mode, there isn't really a bad moment on the album. There are plenty of little moments where the whole thing is a bit rough around the edges, but in comparison to many so called "live" albums which would be more appropriately described as being "Live in the studio" this is a real breath of vintage fresh air because it's a REAL live album, with warts and all. You can hear lots of little incidental moments and transitions, particularly in the guitar work where John jumps on a stomp box to change his guitar sound - it all sounds great to my ears.

With Woolly and Mel both gone, and John and Les still not talking to each other as far as I know, we will certainly never see the like of this again because the interband chemistry of these four was - for a few years at least - an entity close to song writing perfection for the time and their song writing partnership was their strength as a band lay.

In conclusion I can say that this is one of my all time favourite live albums and for anyone looking to investigate the earliy days of prog and who is as yet unfamiliar with BJH I would recommend this as a most excellent starting point.

Quite simply superb. Vintage, verging on antique excellence. 5 stars and I would give it 6 if I could. :)

 John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.02 | 45 ratings

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John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars After a period of mourning the tragic loss of Woolly Wolstenholme, a founding member of the original BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, the John Lees faction decided to soldier on, and "North" is the first progeny of that resilient group, to which long time BJH fan Jez Smith was added on keyboards. It is in fact the first disk of entirely new material under the BJH name since the late 1990s split.

First of all, the mere title of the album speaks volumes, alluding to the pastoral Oldham origins of the group, which somehow adhered to the mellotron soaked sound like chocolate to almonds. What's enlightening to me is how, for the first time, if only at times, BJH sounds closer to a low voltage kiltless version of a few Scottish acts I could name, as they draw more than usual, which is to say, more than not at all, from the traditions of their surroundings. As such, it's difficult to compare this disk to any other era of the group, as it represents a bold renaissance of their identity, that, while not always captivating, is commendable in anyone past middle age.

Of note, Lees' vocals remain readily identifiable and effective within a wisely preset narrow range, and bassist Craig Fletcher sings on several tracks for variety, his voice more suited to conventional rock. Lees' guitar has mellowed, opting for melodic phrasings a la MARK KNOPFLER. Jez Smith shines particularly on piano on several tracks but also on organ and of course mellotron, though its use does not approach that triple washed sheen of early BJH albums, nor does it attempt to. A luxuriant breath of styles is afforded, including epics, basic blues, jazz rock, romantic ballad, and even an ambient brass song. From the perspective of most prog listeners, the lengthiest tracks will offer the best mileage, the best of these being "On Leave", a tribute to Wolstenholme, which is as intricate a composition and arrangement as anything the band has done in any era. Of special note is a frantic call and response midsection that acquiesces to their departed friend's confusions, standing with him without judgement, as true friends.

Even the more conventional tracks often yield unexpected pleasures. The STEELY DAN influenced "In Wonderland" includes a symphonic break that STEELY could not have conceived. "Unreservedly Yours" reminds me of GORDON LIGHTFOOT, but with a simple lilting chorus that delights. "On Top of the World" reaps glory out of its initial lassitude.

While BJH will probably never glisten again like they did in the glory years, "North" succeeds because it sets its internal compass onward and upward, respecting the past but refusing to be haunted by it.

 Everyone Is Everybody Else by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.85 | 209 ratings

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Everyone Is Everybody Else
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars Barclay James Harvest were founded in Manchester in September 1966 as a quartet. Their first contract was with 'Parlophone' for just one single in 1968, and right after that they moved to Harvest'. Their debut album 'Barclay James Harvest' was released in 1970, received positive reviews, but failed reach a wider audience .Their second album 'Once Again' received again very good reviews, and the tour that followed was conducted with a full orchestra under the guidance of Robert John Godfrey. (Who later on formed 'The Enid'). Despite all that, the album's sales were very low once more. After the very good 'Once Again', the band released another very good album in the same year (1971), named 'Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories', which was the band's greatest achievement so far. In the meantime, Robert John Godfrey had been replaced by Martyn Ford. The pressure and the tiredness of the long tours started to have an impact on the band, and that became clear with the release of their fourth album 'Baby James Harvest', which was their weakest moment, and also was the last album they released for 'Harvest'.

In 1973 they signed a contract with 'Polydor', and one year later they released the brilliant 'Everyone is Everybody Else' (1974). This album is considered by many, as their artistic high point, and it was produced by Rodger Bain, who had previously worked with Black Sabbath in producing their first three albums. At the same time, he was also the producer of Judas Priest and Budgie. The albums was including one of the band's most famous songs, 'Child of the Universe', which together with 'For no One' received a massive 'air play' by many Radio stations, and made Barclay James Harvest famous to a far wider audience. The album includes 9 songs, and has a total running time of almost 40 minutes.(In the original version). Almost all the songs are great compositions, filled with the characteristic melodic and melancholic sound of Barclay James Harvest. Surely 'Child of the Universe' capture the listener's attention from the first time, but all the songs are almost equally good in my opinion. If I had to find the album's 'weakest' moment, I would say the song 'Mill Boys' which is a sweet ballad, but nothing more. All the other 8 songs are beautiful to say the least. I bought this album almost 27 years ago on vinyl, (later on I also bought the extended cd version), and during these years I have listened to it hundreds of times. As you can understand I know all the songs by heart, and I can't say that I'm bored of it. It's quite the opposite actually! Every time I'm putting it to play, I'm listening to it from the first till the last song.

'Everyone is Everybody else' is without any doubt a wonderful album, which I strongly recommend.

As for my rating, I would give 4.50 out of 5.00 stars.

 Once Again by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.80 | 233 ratings

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Once Again
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by MJAben

3 stars The version of the album that I am basing this review off of is the 2002 remastered version, how this differs from the original in terms of production quality I do not know, but being unable to get my hands on the original the remastered version will have to suffice. Once Again is one of BJH's best albums in my (and it seems many others) opinion. This is helped in no small part to the mammoth opener to the album, She Said. Although the album does dip for a bit, it does reach this height once again with the wonderful Mockingbird.

Other songs on the album are good for the most part, Song For Dying and Lady Loves feel sub-par, while Happy Old World feels, well, sub-sub-par. The rest of the music however is extremely enjoyable with a couple of real highlights scattered here and there.

Nevertheless, this album suffers from the same thing that every BJH album suffers from, they pay great homage to all of their influences but, most of the time, wind up sounding like merely a pale image of them, and switch styles so readily that they don't seem to have any continuous flow, or a recognizable sound.

Nevertheless this is definitely one of their stronger efforts here with a couple of real winners. Still a mixed bag. Still Barclay James Harvest.

3/5 stars.

 John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.02 | 45 ratings

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John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: North
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars The best Barclay James Harvest album in three decades, yet still not all that good!

Released in 2013, North is the first proper studio album to be released under the name of John Lees' Barclay James Harvest. (1999's Nexus was a mixture of original material and re-recordings of classic Barclay James Harvest songs; and besides it was released under the alternative name of "Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees".) Before he passed away in 2010, Woolly Wolstenholme was involved in this version of the band (which can be seen on the very good live DVD Legacy - Live At The Shepherd's Bush Empire released in 2007). The John Lees' Barclay James Harvest moniker is thus more appropriate than it was when it started as John Lees is now the only original member of Barclay James Harvest involved. (Les Holroyd has his own version of the band called Barclay James Harvest Featuring Les Holroyd, which included the fourth original member Mel Pritchard before he passed away.)

Nonetheless, North is a full-fledged Barclay James Harvest album in sound and appearance and is indeed the best studio album that (any version of) the band has produced in a long, long time. Almost all the songs bear the trademark Barclay James Harvest sound embodied in the voice and guitar sound of John Lees. The opening track If You Were Here Now does however not have this sound and I wonder if it is not bass player Craig Fletcher who sings lead here (?). It is a rather weak song which does not leave a good impression.

The album continues with Ancient Waves which was previously familiar to me from the live album Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London. This is one out of three good songs on this album, the other two being the title track and On Leave. The latter is the longest track on the album which leaves room for some tasteful guitar and keyboard work. These three songs easily rank among the best songs that the band has produced since the 1970's. Unfortunately the album as a whole is not up to that standard.

Unreservedly Yours was released as a single to promote this album. It has a rather standard, Beatles- esque melody and failed to leave any lasting impressions. On Top Of The World is a decent symphonic ballad which is pleasant enough, but again hardly impressive. Is it Fletcher singing again?

The real embarrassments of the album have not yet been mentioned however. In Wonderland is an absolute miss, especially the lyrics are cringe-worthy implicitly criticising the age of information technology by urging us to switch our phones off making the band appear like some old Luddites. With lines like "Facebook, YouTube, you loose" and "Schmetterlings for brains" this is best avoided by contemporary beings. The Real Deal is another weak track, a dull, middle of the road rocker.

With some strong moments, some decent moments, and some really weak moments, North could certainly have been a lot better than it is. If you are a fan of the band, by all means check this out, but for most people this is far from essential.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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