Gone To Earth (1977)

After years of musical chairs, BJH finally found a sympathetic producer in themselves. Gone To Earth continued Octoberon’s winning ways with its unique vision of orchestral pop and circumstance. That said, John Lees couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the band’s critics by reworking The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” into a song called (what else?) “Poor Man’s Moody Blues.” GTE isn’t quite as quirky as their last (i.e., no “Suicide” to haunt your waking dreams), although it does follow a similar template. There is a simple, powerful opener (“Hymn”), lush harmonies (inviting comparisons to The Beach Boys this time), tautly constructed pop songs and another orchestral orgasm from Woolly. Highlights include “Friend of Mine” (their best approximation yet of contemporary Eagles), the tuneful and 10cc-like “Leper’s Song” and “Hymn” (and how little had changed since that fateful early morning). The album closes in a wash of brian wilsonics (“Taking Me Higher”) that is, in a word, lovely. If I were inclined to rate albums (and I’m not), I might assign GTE an imaginary halfstar less than their last, since nothing on here tickles my imagination like a “May Day,” ‘Suicide?” or “Ra.” It does, however, continue to mine that same fertile middleground between perfectly crafted pop and artistic pomp exposed on Octoberon. One item of note is the overtly Christian theme of “Hymn,” as I had been godwatching the band for some time (“Sweet Jesus,” “For No One”). I can’t recall reading definitively that BJH was a Christian band, although much of their music takes the moral high ground (e.g., “Child of the Universe,” “Hymn for the Children”). If it’s true, they’re a shoo-in for the angelic choir.

Original LP Version

A1. Hymn (Lees) (5:05)
A2. Love Is Like A Violin (Lees) (4:00)
A3. Friend of Mine (Holroyd) (3:33)
A4. Poor Man’s Moody Blues (Lees) (6:57)
B1. Hard Hearted Woman (Holroyd) (4:29)
B2. Sea of Tranquility (Wolstenholme) (4:03)
B3. Spirit of the Water (Holroyd) (4:48)
B4. Leper’s Song (Lees) (3:24)
B5. Taking Me Higher (Holroyd) (3:32)

Releases

1977.09 / Polydor / UK / LP / 2442 148 / diecut cover
1977 / MCA / US / LP / MCA-2302 / diecut cover
1977 / Polydor / Germany / LP / 2460 273 / diecut cover, lyric insert
1977 / Polydor / Japan / LP / MPF-1114 / diecut cover, lyric insert
1982 / Polydor-Sung Eum / Korea / LP / SEL-R-G 587
2014 / Back to Black / UK / LP / 535 145-4 / 180g vinyl

CD reissue w/ bonus tracks

  1. Hymn
  2. Love Is Like A Violin
  3. Friend of Mine)
  4. Poor Man’s Moody Blues
  5. Hard Hearted Woman
  6. Sea of Tranquility
  7. Spirit of the Water
  8. Leper’s Song
  9. Taking Me Higher
  10. Lied
  11. Our Kid’s Kid
  12. Hymn (single edit)
  13. Friend of Mine (single version)
  14. Medicine Man

Releases

2003.06.02 / Polydor / UK / CD / 065 398-2 / digital remaster
2006 / Polydor / Japan / CD / UICY-93047 / digital remaster

2CD + DVD Audio reissue (3 discs total)

Disc one

  1. Hymn
  2. Love Is Like A Violin
  3. Friend of Mine)
  4. Poor Man’s Moody Blues
  5. Hard Hearted Woman
  6. Sea of Tranquility
  7. Spirit of the Water
  8. Leper’s Song
  9. Taking Me Higher
  10. Lied
  11. Our Kid’s Kid
  12. Hymn (single edit)
  13. Friend of Mine (single version)

Disc two

  1. Hymn
  2. Love Is Like A Violin
  3. Friend of Mine)
  4. Poor Man’s Moody Blues
  5. Hard Hearted Woman
  6. Sea of Tranquility
  7. Spirit of the Water
  8. Leper’s Song
  9. Taking Me Higher
  10. Loving Is Easy

DVD audio disc

  1. Hymn
  2. Love Is Like A Violin
  3. Friend of Mine)
  4. Poor Man’s Moody Blues
  5. Hard Hearted Woman
  6. Sea of Tranquility
  7. Spirit of the Water
  8. Leper’s Song
  9. Taking Me Higher
  10. Loving Is Easy
  11. Our Kid’s Kid

Releases

2016.09.02 / Cherry Red / UK / CD

Personnel

  • Les Holroyd –
  • John Lees –
  • Mel Pritchard –
  • Wooly Wolstenholme –
  • Produced by Barclay James Harvest and Davie Rohl
  • Engineered by Davie Rohl
  • Sleeve design by Maldwyn Reece Tootill

Arcana

  • Reached #30 on the UK charts

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