Barclay James Harvest: Reissues

Three-disc remasters of BJH’s 70s salvage.

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In 1977, Barclay James Harvest’s Gone To Earth (510) began a three-years-plus, million-selling run on the German album chart. It’s still one of the most durable hits in that country’s history. Hearing this extended edition with an extra mix and bonus tracks, you can sort of see why: it takes all the soft-rock tropes of the era and stirs them into a big, effective soup of epic gestures and sentimentality.

It’s also clear why it hasn’t dated well in the UK: BJH lacked their own identity. Their telling error, cruelly, was to react to a journalist’s jibe by naming the centrepiece track Poor Man’s Moody Blues. You’d expect such self-awareness to pre-empt criticism, but its accuracy is embalmed.

Three years earlier they’d bounced from EMI to Polydor, landing their breakthrough album. On Everyone Is Everybody Else (610) – produced, weirdly, by Black Sabbath’s Rodger Bain – they found their languid-ballad stride with Child Of The Universe and For No One, using lush beds of mellotrons and synths. At times, it’s like they’re in a perverse race with Floyd to see who can play slowest.

These albums are a dubious victory for scale over content, but there remains some beauty amid the bombast on this pair.