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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Barclay James Harvest

Barclay James Harvest

Review by Gary Hill

This new reissue of the first Barclay James Harvest has the full album along with a bunch of bonus tracks. This album was great by itself, but seems augmented with this extra material. While Barclay James Harvest would go on to be considered a progressive rock band, that wasn't even really a genre when much of this was recorded. These guys definitely had a lot of folk music and psychedelia built into their sound. All these things point to the proto-prog that this was. I think the main album holds up well, and the bonus material is great, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Taking Some Time On
A cool fast paced guitar riff opens this cut. It grows out from there to a killer psychedelic rocker that's a lot of fun. This killer rocker works through a number of shifts and changes. It's has some great instrumental work.
Mother Dear
With a lot of symphonic strings, this is a folk prog piece that works quite well.
The Sun Will Never Shine
That same folk element is a big part of this, but the cut also works into more of a psychedelic texture. It's another killer cut that works really well.
When the World Was Woken
Imagine combining the symphonic side of the Beatles with Procol Harum. It might sound a lot like this. We have a cool cut that works really well here. The strings add a lot of symphonic prog to it, and the cut just plain rocks nicely.
Good Love Child
A fun psychedelic rocker, this is killer stuff. It's energetic and so catchy.
The Iron Maiden
This is a mellower cut that has a lot of folk music and psychedelia built into it. This probably does have a lot of proto prog in the mix, too.
Dark Now My Sky
Starting with a bit that feels like it could be from a stage play, this works out gradually from there. There is a pretty awesome symphonic instrumental treatment as it works forward. Guitar brings more of a prog rock thing to the table. This works through mellower folk prog sections, more powered up soaring prog movements and much more. It's a real powerhouse number that has a lot of range built into it. There are plenty of peaks and valleys on this road.
Bonus Track
            
Early Morning

More of a folk prog based piece, this is a pleasant little number that works really well. The strings bring something special to the table, and there is quite a bit of psychedelia built into it.  This was the first side of a single.

Mister Sunshine
Side "B" of the same single, this has some cool mellow psychedelic elements at play. It is folk music based. The flute adds a lot to the piece, but the whole thing is just cool.
Pools of Blue
Recorded at Advision Studios August 1968, there is a healthy helping of The Beatles on this cut. It has some cool psychedelia and more at the midst.
I Can't Go on Without You
The strings are a nice touch here. The cut has a real folk music meets psychedelic arrangement. There is a definite Procol Harum element to this, too.
Eden Unobtainable
I dig the bass work that moves around behind the more symphonic elements here early. This has a definite symphonic folk prog meets psychedelic sound to it.
Pools of Blue
A different recording of the earlier song, this works well.
Brother Thrush
This is side A of a single, and it has a lot of that folk prog meets psychedelia element at play. It is a classy tune with a great vocal arrangement and some catchy hooks.
Poor Wages
The flip side of the "Brother Thrush" single, this has a bit more of a rocking sound to it.  There is still plenty of folk prog in the arrangement, too. This is actually one of my favorite tunes on the whole set. It's not a huge change. It just works really well.
Taking Some Time On
This is a single version of the song that opened the album. It seems a bit more direct in this version. It's a killer tune that works well either way, though.
 
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