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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST
NOTES: Barclay James Harvest's first album aptly named Barclay
James Harvest featured the Barclay James Harvest Orchestra under the
direction of Robert Godfrey.
The track "Mother Dear" was arranged and conducted by Norman
The track "Mother Dear" was arranged and conducted by Norman Smith.
This was the first BJH album but the third of the band's offerings to be added to my collection. I have documented elsewhere how I became a fan of the band after attending their gig at Harlow Technical College on 13th November, 1971. For those wishing to read this account please follow this link. Music and Me
At that time the band had either just released or were in the process of releasing Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories. This I bought along with Once Again which still stands today as my favourite album of all time. It was a short while later that I completed my collection of BJH by adding the first album.
I still believe those first three albums all have their own unique feel. Other Short Stories is perhaps the most commercial of the three, whilst Once Again has the three outstanding BJH tracks - Mocking Bird, She Said and Galadriel and is also full of stunningly beautiful mood music.
The first album falls somewhere in the middle. It is getting on for 40 years old and of course belongs to another period in time. Some of its charm comes from the dated almost pompous feel - and I mean that in the nicest way. Here was a band following in the best pretentious traditions of the very early 70s when music was more of an explosion.
The album is full of monstrous Gothic splendour and the orchestral sounds that at times threatened to bankrupt the band. All the great BJH early trademarks are here. Sweeping classical arrangements, quirky lyrics and a great richness.
Barclay James Harvest is music for a winter's night - music for curling up around the fire. It was a band willing to experiment, to take themselves into areas where they knew they might be vilified. They were never a fashionable band, they were never mainstream and this album, more than perhaps any other, illustrates just why.