Barclay James Harvest

Barclay James Harvest was an English symphonic-rock band from Oldham, Greater Manchester, that initiated EMI’s Harvest imprint, releasing four albums on the label between 1970 and 1972, followed by a lengthy run of albums on Polydor between 1974 and 1997.

Members: Les Holroyd (bass, vocals), John Lees (guitar, vocals), Mel Pritchard (drums), Woolly Wolstenholme (keyboards, vocals, 1967-79)


Barclay James Harvest evolved from a musical partnership established at Oldham School of Art in 1964 between guitarist/singer John Lees and keyboardist Woolly Wolstenholme. They played in a sequence of beat combos (The Sorcerers, The Blues Keepers) and formed a permanent band in September 1966 with bassist/singer Les Holroyd and drummer Mel Pritchard.

They constructed their band name from a selection of words pulled at random from a hat. “James” was the name of a vocalist who was present at the band’s formative stage. “Harvest” signified their farmhouse rehearsal space; “Barclay,” the namesake of Barclays Bank (founded in 1736 by James Barclay), represented the band’s wish to make money. They arranged the words in an order that would most easily roll off the tongue.

In April 1968, Barclay James Harvest debuted with the Parlophone single “Early Morning” (b/w “Mr. Sunshine”). The Moodies-like a-side makes prominent Mellotron usage with introductory flute-tones and thick, frosty keys under the harmony-laden verses. The folk-ballad flipside features plucked acoustic guitars, bongos, flute interludes, and harmonized refrains. Both sides were written and produced by the band.

In June 1969, Barclay James Harvest inaugurated EMI’s Harvest imprint with the single “Brother Thrush” (b/w “Poor Wages”), produced by Norman Smith (Pink Floyd, Pretty Things). The label would house the band for their first four albums.


Discography:

  • Barclay James Harvest (1970)
  • Once Again (1971)
  • Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories (1971)
  • Baby James Harvest (1972)
  • Barclay James Harvest Live (1974)
  • Everyone Is Everybody Else (1974)
  • Time Honoured Ghosts (1975)
  • Octoberon (1976)
  • Gone to Earth (1977)
  • XII (1978)
  • Live Tapes (1978)
  • Eyes of the Universe (1979)
  • Turn of the Tide (1981)
  • A Concert for the People (Berlin) (OST, 1982)
  • Ring of Changes (1983)
  • Victims of Circumstance (1984)
  • Face to Face (1987)
  • Glasnost (live, 1988)
  • Welcome to the Show (1990)
  • Caught in the Light (1993)
  • River of Dreams (1997)

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