Thursday 26th April
Barclay James Harvest (continued) – A year later and they released one of their best records Once Again. A clever title and the first to feature their trade mark butterfly. They were on a new label Harvest, a subsidiary of EMI devoted to new bands, and the label took it’s name form the group. Once Again is a huge leap in creativity. The songs are much better and features two of their most famous compositions ‘Mockingbird’ which they have played at almost every concert since, and ‘She Said’ but my favourite is the exquisite ‘Galadriel’, a hauntingly gentle and beautiful song about a girl who comes up with the morning sun to tell you life has just begun. BJH were at the forefront of what came to be known as ‘prog-rock’. Ridiculed at times by the music press, especially during the punk years, but loved by millions of fans – and where all the punk bands have long since gone, the dinosaurs of prog-survived for much longer. BJH became one of my very favourite bands, along with The Beatles and Crowded House. I have bought every record, except the many compilations and except for a couple of live records they are have all been played to death…I simply love them.
Later that same year (1971) they released their third album Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories. Another all-time favourite, full of brilliant songs, majestic orchestral arrangements, superb drumming too – and beautifully sung lyrics. This album featured ‘Medicine Man’ and ‘After the Day’ – but my very favourite must always be ‘Little Lapwing’ with its’ brilliant trumpet coda. I think that Woolly was the real classical man, and John a bit more of a rocker. His song ‘Blue John’s Blues’ matches almost anything other ‘heavier’ bands were producing, and it still has a brilliant melody. I think it is the melodies which capture me most in BJH music; they are timeless, often a bit slower than most, stately almost. The lyrics are pretty-well post-hippy idealism, wanting a better world full of love and peace – that sort of thing – but easy to sing along with. So, three brilliant albums to start with – but trouble was looming. The cost of touring with an orchestra almost bankrupted them. They were also having disputes with both their management and record company over money. As usual they were being screwed over, working every day and seeing nothing for their efforts.