Barclay James Harvest: Once Again (1971)

Barclay James Harvest would achieve fame as purveyors of pastoral, orchestrated progressive rock featuring fantasy and science fiction themes, a journey they begin in earnest on Once Again. It’s a very different record than their debut, which seemed to try a little of everything (rock, orchestral epics, folk songs) in search of an identity. Here, they find a workable formula: dark subject matter lightened with rich orchestral elements and clever musical interplay that suggests a cross between King Crimson and The Moody Blues. On this album, John Lees and Wooly Wolstenholme split the songwriting and singing; Les Holroyd (argubaly their strongest singer) doesn’t take a single lead vocal or write a single track (although it appears he did write half of the brilliant “She Said”). That fact alone may account for the consistency of the material; Woolly’s muse is clearly death, while John is more of a white knight. And so you have an album that balances between light and dark, love and death, while maintaining an elevated, almost ethereal quality. Once Again remains a fan favorite, and it’s easy to hear why; “Mocking Bird,” “Vanessa Simmons” and “Galadriel” maintain an evergreen beauty despite the passage of time. The opening “She Said” is also a minor masterpiece of progressive rock in my book, and probably as close as BJH has come to capturing the contained fury of King Crimson. Of note, the album reunites the sound team of Norman Smith and Peter Brown from Pink Floyd’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, and you’ll definitely want your headphones for Once Again too.

Original LP Version
A1. She Said (Lees)*
A2. Happy Old World (Wolstenholme)
A3. Song For Dying (Barclay James Harvest)
A4. Galadriel (Lees)
B1. Mocking Bird (BJH)
B2. Vanessa Simmons (Lees)
B3. Ball And Chain (BJH)
B4. Lady Loves (BJH)

All songs written by Barclay James Harvest unless noted. (In fact, Lees wrote most of them.)
*Originally (and erroneously) credited to John Lees, “She Said” was actually written by Holroyd (the first part) and Wolstenholme (the second part).

Releases
1971.02.05 / Harvest / UK / LP / SHVL-788 / gatefold cover
1971 / Sire / US / LP / SI-4904 / gatefold cover
1971 / Harvest /Germany / LP / 1C 064-04 697 / gatefold cover
1971 / Odeon / Japan / LP / OP-80242 / gatefold cover
1973 / Harvest / UK / LP / Q4SHVL-788 / quadrophonic stereo, gatefold cover
1983 / Fame / UK / LP / FA-7073
1992 / EMI / Japan / CD / TOCP-7370
1995.01.30 / Si-Wan / Korea / LP / SRML-6008 / gatefold cover

Repackages
1992.11 / Beat Goes On / UK / CD / BGOCD-152 / w. first album
1995.10 / One Way / US / CD / S21-18456 / w. first album

Expanded 2LP Ltd. Ed. Remaster
A1. She Said
A2. Happy Old World
A3. Song For Dying
A4. Galadriel
B1. Mocking Bird
B2. Vanessa Simmons
B3. Ball And Chain
B4. Lady Loves
C1. Introduction White Sails (A Seascape)
C2. Too Much On Your Plate
C3. Happy Old World (quad mix)
D1. Vanessa Simmons (quad mix)
D2. Ball And Chain (quad mix)

Releases
2012.02.10 / Back on Black / UK / 2LP / PCV003LP / 180g, remaster

Personnel

  • Les Holroyd – bass
  • John Lees – guitars, lead vocals (A4, B2)
  • Mel Pritchard – drums
  • Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme – keyboards, lead vocals
  • The Barclay James Harvest Orchestra
  • Gavin Wright – orchstra leader
  • Robert Godfrey – conductor and musical director
  • Norman Smith – producer
  • Peter Brown – engineer
  • Latimer Reeves – gatefold sleeve design

Arcana

  • In 2005, Q magazine ranked this album #39 in its list of 40 Cosmic Rock Albums. Of course, that list was part of an article entitled “Pink Floyd and The Story of Prog Rock,” so take from that what you will.

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