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Gone to Earth

Barclay James Harvest

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Album Review

Barclay James Harvest had streamlined their sound considerably after leaving the Harvest label, culminating (so many felt) in the mellifluous music of Gone to Earth. Their pretensions to progressive rock all but abandoned, BJH here invites comparison to contemporaries like Supertramp, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac (some of whom were similarly tagged with the prog rock label early on). Even at their most ornate, songwriters John Lees and Les Holroyd were simple balladeers at heart, and the decision to unclutter their arrangements allows the material's intrinsic beauty to shine through with clarity. For this reason, Gone to Earth is regarded by many as the band's best album, and judged on a song-by-song basis, it's hard to argue against it. Lees' "Hymn" and "Poor Man's Moody Blues" swell from simple beginnings to majestic heights, while Holroyd provides a cache of catchy rock songs, incorporating Beach Boys' harmonies on "Spirit of the Water" and "Taking Me Higher," soaring with the Eagles on "Friend of Mine," and even dabbling in reggae on the popular "Hard Hearted Woman." Again, the album's lone orchestral moment comes from Wolstenholme, the transcendent "Sea of Tranquility." (The keyboardist, whose once-omnipresent Mellotron now played a diminished role in the band's sound, left after the subsequent tour, releasing the first of several solo albums in 1980.) Although the songs are almost uniformly light on their feet, the lyrics reveal some heavy thoughts: Lees' "Lepers Song" laments "The end of the line's where I'm at/'Cos there's nothing left to be," and "Spirit of the Water" deals with killing seals for coats. Fortunately, it's not the uneasy alliance you might expect. Rarely has the band sounded so comfortable in the studio, and the result is as lovely a record as they've made.

Customer Reviews

Songs of my past still present

Saw Gone to Earth whilst looking for other music. Started sampling tracks and it is still as good today as when I first heard it in the late 80's. Even then it has been released over 10 years ago. Love the melodies and the feeling of the whole album. If you love the Moodies then give this a try xx

Worth searching for

I listened to a few of Barclay's albums back in the late 70s and then came across this on itunes and realised there are some lovely songs on this album. Hymn is a beautiful song and I love 6. Please listen to taking me higher a beautful melody..sample it. A great album for the 70s which still has a powerful reasonance in the right circumstances. I love it on a quiet night looking out to the night lights...relaxing and inspiring

A great album

With Octoberon this is probably my favourite of BJH's albums.

The tracks are all excellent in their different ways, although the standouts are for me Hymn, Sea of tranquillity and most of all Poor man's Moody Blues (which for me surpasses the original, that it pastiches).

Very good listening and well worth the money.

Biography

Formed: September, 1966 in Oldham, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Barclay James Harvest was, for many years, one of the most hard luck outfits in progressive rock. A quartet of solid rock musicians — John Lees, guitar, vocals; Les Holroyd, bass, vocals; Stuart "Wooly" Wolstenholme, keyboards, vocals; and Mel Pritchard, drums — with a knack for writing hook-laden songs built on pretty melodies, they harmonized like the Beatles and wrote extended songs with more of a beat than the Moody Blues. They were signed to EMI at the same time as Pink Floyd, and...
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