Sunday, 16 October 2011

"Taking Some Time On – The Parlophone-Harvest Years (1968-73)" by BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST (2011 EMI/Harvest 5CD Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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UK released 18 July 2011 - "Taking Some Time On: The Parlophone-Harvest Years (1968-73)" by BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST features 69-tracks across 5CDs and is housed in a double jewel case (with fold-out flaps on the inside for some of the discs). Here's a detailed breakdown of EMI/Harvest 5099908378826 (SHTW 802)…

Disc 1 (60:56 minutes)
Tracks 1 & 2 are "Early Morning" and "Mr. Sunshine" – the non-album A&B-sides of the band’s debut UK 7” single released 26 April 1969 on Parlophone R 5693
3. So Tomorrow
4. Eden Unobtainable
5. Eden Unobtainable (May 1968 Version)
Tracks 3 to 5 are a 'BBC Top Gear Session' recorded live 23 April 1968
6. Night
7. Pools Of Blue
8. Need You Oh So Bad
9. Small Time Town
10. Dark Now My Sky
Tracks 6 to 10 are a 'BBC Top Gear Session' recorded live 30 July 1968
Tracks 11 and 12 are "Brother Thrush" and "Poor Wages" – the non-album A&B-sides of their 2nd UK single on Harvest HAR 5003 (released 20 June 1969)
Track 13 is "Mocking Bird" (May 1970 version at 6:17 minutes)
[Another version at 6:39 minutes is on the "Once Again" album on Disc 2]
14. Taking Some Time ON
15. Mother Dear
16. The Sun Will Never Shine
17. When The World Was Woken
Tracks 14 to 17 are Side 1 of their debut LP "Their First Album" released 5 June 1970 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 770

Disc 2 (62:42 minutes):
1. Good Love Child
2. The Iron Maiden
3. Dark Now My Sky
Tracks 1 to 3 are Side 2 of "Their First Album" (as per 14 to 17 on Disc 1)
Track 4 "I Can’t Go On Without You" was a 'Bonus Track' on the expanded 2002 CD of "Their First Album"
5. She Said
6. Happy Old World
7. Song For Dying
8. Galadriel
9. Mocking Bird
10. Vanessa Simmons
11. Ball And Chain
12. Lady Loves
Tracks 5 to 12 are their 2nd album "Once Again" released 5 February 1971 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 788

Disc 3 (66:39 minutes):
1. Introduction-White Sails (A Seascape)
2. Too Much On Your Plate
3. Galadriel (Non Orchestral Version)
4. Happy Old World (Take One)
5. Song For Dying (Full Un-edited Version)
6. Mocking Bird (Extended Non-Orchestral Version)
7. Dark Now My Sky (Live March 1971)
Tracks 1 to 7 are bonus tracks on the CD of "Once Again"
8. Galadriel
9. She Said
10. Someone There You Know
11. Ursula (The Swansea Song)
12. Medicine Man
Tracks 8 to 12 are a 'Bob Harris Session' recorded for the BBC on 29 June 1971

Disc 4 (67:06 minutes):
1. Medicine Man
2. Someone There You Know
3. Harry’s Song
4. Ursula (The Swansea Song)
5. Little Lapwing
6. Song With No Meaning
7. Blue John’s Blues
8. The Poet
9. After The Day
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 3rd album "And Other Short Stories" released 5 November 1971 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 794
Track 10 is "Brave New World (Demo Version)" – a bonus track on the "And Other Short Stories" CD of 2002
Track 11 is "Child Of Man" recorded for a 'Bob Harris Session' on 15 March 1972
Tracks 12 and 13 are "I'm Over You" and "Child Of Man" – the non-album A&B-sides of a UK 7” single released 28 April 1972 on Harvest HAR 5051
Tracks 14 and 15 are "Breathless" and "When The City Sleeps" (with the band credited as BOMBADIL) – the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single released 29 September 1971 on Harvest HAR 5056
Track 16 is "Medicine Man" – released 20 October 1972 as the non-album B-side of "Thank You" on Harvest HAR 5058

Disc 5 (60:41 minutes):
1. One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out
2. Delph Town Morn
3. Summer Soldier
Tracks 1 to 3 are a 'Bob Harris Session' for the BBC recorded 9 October 1972
4. Crazy Over (You)
5. Delph Town Morn
6. Summer Soldier
7. Thank You
8. One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out
9. Moonwater
Tracks 4 to 9 are their 4th LP "Baby James Harvest" released 10 November 1972 in the UK on Harvest SHSP 4023
Track 10 is "Thank You (Alternate Version)" is a bonus track on the 2002 expanded CD of "Baby James Harvest"
Track 11 and 12 are "Rock And Roll Woman" and "The Joker" – the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single released 4 May 1973 on Harvest HAR 5068

The discs themselves all have the distinctive 'Harvest' label logo and there are pictures of the band beneath the see-through trays (a nice touch). But its also one of those fiddly and easy to break double jewel-cases - so you need to be a tad careful handling it. The booklet has excellent liner notes by MALCOM DOME, but at 12-pages is a fairly slight affair. However it does picture concert tickets, flyers, badges, posters, small shots of the four album sleeves etc…and of course full discography info.

But the really great news is the superb new remastered sound. Done by PETER MEW at Abbey Road Studios, I've praised his exceptional transfer work before (see reviews for the Deluxe Editions of Dr. Feelgood's "Down By The Jetty", David Bowie's "David Bowie", Free's "Fire And Water" and Jethro Tull's "This Was") – here it's the same. The audio is very clear despite the denseness of the instrumentation, powerful without being over-trebled for effect and full of presence. (See the 'tag' marked "Peter Mew Remasters" above this review and it will give you a pictorial of 40 great reissues he’s been involved in).

The music as you can imagine is a mixed bag of the great and the merely good. Comparison-wise BJH were actually hard to pin down (constantly experimenting with their 'sound' as the liner notes explain). The Mellotron gives a song like the lovely "Mocking Bird" a sort Moody Blues feel with a faint hint of Nick Drake's melancholy – while the compilation’s title track "Taking Some Time On" (lyrics above) rocks it up with the best of them (albeit in a very Seventies Prog Rock kind of a way). The early BBC stuff (expertly engineered by the greatly missed BBC engineer and character BERNIE ANDREWS) is tight and impressive. It's all very inviting somehow. And you can feel them inching towards "Time Honoured Ghosts" and "Octoberon" (their popular 1975 and 1976 Polydor LPs) by the time you get to the strings and acoustic bedroom melodrama of "Medicine Man" and "Song With No Meaning" on Disc 4. 

To sum up - die-hard BJH fans will know that the 2002 remasters for the first four LPs - "Their First Album" [aka "Barclay James Harvest"], "Once Again", "And Other Short Stories" and "Baby James Harvest" - are all here along with their large number of bonus tracks (64 songs in total). So there are only 5 new additions. But for the casual buyer however - you get 4 whole albums worth, 5 rare non-album 45s (A&B-sides) and a slew of live BBC Sessions and other rarities. A huge haul in great sound and all at a very reasonable cost…

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