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4.4 out of 5 stars31
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2003
Barclay James who? That is the reception I often get when I recommend this band to other people. It is incredibly sad that one of Britain's finest bands have, for too long, also been one of the most neglected. Hailing from Oldham, BJH were pioneers of EMI's Harvest progressive rock label before moving to Polydor in the early 70s and enjoying huge success with a string of superb albums based on the ability to write stimulating melodies and lyrics, and play their instruments with great skill. 'Gone To Earth' was released in 1977, going Gold in Germany, and is perhaps their greatest album. Having long left the BJH back catalogue on increasingly hard to find, poor quality CD transfers from the 1980s, Polydor have now finally begun a remastering programme and (having owned the earlier transfer), I can say that they have done a superb job. The album opens with a BJH signature tune - 'Hymn' which begins with acoustic guitars and vocal before building up to a huge orchestral climax. BJH, as much as CSNY or The Byrds, have always produced superb harmony singing and this is in clear evidence on this track. The songwriting on this album is awesome, ranging as it does from the sensitive then slightly funky 'Love Is Like A Violin', through John Lee's dramatic 'Poor Man's Moody Blues', the catchy but never irritating riff of 'Hard Hearted Woman', and the orchestral colours of 'Sea Of Tranquility' to the poignant 'Taking Me Higher' (which closed the original album). This new release also includes bonus tracks, including the previously unreleased song 'Lied' (by John Lees), and the original B-side of the 'Hymn' single - 'Our Kid's Kid'. Most valuable of all however is the beautiful restoration of the 'BJH Live EP' - a recording of their Harvest days classic 'Medicine Man'. This is an epic performance of some 11 minutes and includes some truly awe inspiring playing, particularly in the solo improvisations of John Lees on lead guitar and Les Holroyd on Bass. This is one of the greatest moments in rock history, but also one of the best kept secrets. Although previously resotred on the Connosieur label's 'Endless Dream' collection of BJH rarities, the transfer here is far superior, bringing out the full complexity and dynamism of this exciting performance. In fact, Polydor have done a superb job of remastering this classic album. Gone is the flat, one dimensional, shallow sound of the original CD transfer - this new reissue sounds like the vinyl original with wide dynamics, great attack, and quite stunning soundstaging. This is so good that I now plan to replace my entire BJH collection with the remasters as and when they become available. Maybe now, with the sound quality their music deserves, it is time for the British rock press and audience to reappraise this highly skilled and original band. The time has come for them to take their place as one of the greatest rock acts ever produced in this country. Superb - do not hesitate to buy this.
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on 3 December 2000
BJH have, as long as I've known the band, been compared to the Moody Blues. A (very)old friend of mine once cynically referred them as being a "watered down version of the Bee Gees" - I think not (to either opinion)The ultimate tribute to a truly outstanding band was EMI naming the Harvest label after them! Gone To Earth is the band at their very best. Each track in its own way is outstanding. My personal favs are (naturally) 'Hymn', 'Poor Man's Moody Blues', 'Sea Of Tranquility' and 'Spirit On The Water' - Hell - all of them! BJH almost made it big time during the mid/late '70s, but tragically the music press at that time were more interested in following the fortunes of the glam rock scene, so BJH didn't get the coverage their music deserved.Personally, I preferred them after they dumped the orchestra, thus allowing Stuart Wolstenholme to demonstrate he's as good a keyboard man as Wakeman, Emerson, Banks et al.I saw them around 1975 time in Glasgow's City Halls, and they were superb!John Lees is a gifted guitarist and songwriter, and Les Holroyd also played a major part as bassist and songwriter. The album is timeless; it'll never grow old.After 23 years it's still as good as it was when first released. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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on 1 December 2010
'Hymn' is BJH's Marmite ! You either love it or find it a bit cringy. However apart from that song this is a very listenable LP. Production harmonies and so on are fantastic and for me, Hard Hearted Woman is a classic. Its understated, not an 'in yer face' sort of track, but the little keyboard bits work wonderfully. Whilst I beleieve that BJH probably did some stronger songs on earlier LPs, ( She Said , Mockingbird etc) I do find thsi the LP that I actually play more, and on that basis alone I'd recomend it. Personally though , although often labelled Progressive, I find that a not really correct way of labelling this fine album. Genre wise its pretty standard Mid 70s, CSN and Y meets , err early BJH ! and isnt pushing musical boundaries in any true sence. I do somethimes think the word 'progressive' gets over used.
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on 6 July 2000
I bought this album over 20 years ago , it remains one of my most listened to of an extensive collection. It encompasses all aspects of British rock music of the time but most importantly remains 'timeless'. The song 'Hymn' is a recognised classic and is one of the groups 'signiture tunes'. The group have continued to release albums and to date in excess 20 (not including compliations etc).'Gone to Earth'is therefore an excellent introduction . BJH's style is typically compared to the Moody Blues. Be prepared to be impressed !
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Gone to Earth is generally looked upon as one of the best of BJH's albums. I have mixed feelings and some reservations about it, however. The songs are solid without being exceptional, although the overall feel is one of reasonable togetherness. Poor Man's Moody Blues is correctly and undeniably a BJH classic.

Many also believe Hymn to be one of the most powerful songs written by John Lees. Here I have to disagree. I find it a slightly turgid and monotonous piece and certainly not one of his best. The band's move away from classically inspired rock is once again shown by the fact that Woolly Woolstenholme contributed only one song. Over the years I have felt that one of the band's weaknesses has always been an insistence that Messrs Holroyd and Lees should contribute an equal number of songs. This has often backfired and led to some weaker filler material. Whilst saying that the album doesn't have any filler tracks there are some slightly less impressive pieces that for me prevent Gone to Earth from being a classic BJH album.
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on 21 October 2013
I heard this album for the first time about six months ago and have been looking for it for a long time. Now I have it I cannot stop listening to it. It's brilliant and I find it very soothing.
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on 9 October 2009
Great to hear this album again after many years, had this on vinyl many moons ago. Have to admitt always a bit biased towards this band as they come from a town three miles from me, which also happens to be the home of my footie team, Oldham.
However this is about the music,and well, its mighty fine, maybe a little dated now, but if you were there at the time, you grow up with it. Some outstanding tracks on this, Poor Mans moody blues, Hard hearted woman, Spirit on the water and Hymn. Also like the bonus track, Our kids kid,( how Northern is that ), but to be honest the reason I bought this was for one particular bonus track, the 11 minute live epic, Medicine man. Now bare with me, gonna take you back to when I was sixteen years old, and i bought a live ep single, which had the excellent RocknRoll Star on it, followed by this live version of Medicine man, however due to the length of the song, it faded out at the end of side 1, and you had to walk over to the turntable , flick it over, and the song continued on side 2!! how mad was that, anyone thats lost on ep, side 1&2,single, ask your dad.
Anyone new to Barclay James Harvest, buy this and ,Live Tapes, and enjoy. Progressive rock at its best.
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on 17 September 2010
great album,i hadn't heard it for years.slightly different to the LP i had as it does not have the woodland sounds inbetween the tracks,still good to hear the songs again though.chears rogey.
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on 1 June 2013
Poor Man's Moody Blues is such a good track. Taking Nights in White Satin and reworking it to a new song, but with echos of the original. I can't stop playing it.
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on 27 June 2008
I bought this album when it was first released in the seventies, and it has taken thirty years for me to find it on CD. But I say the same now as I did then: there are only two tracks, in my opinion, worth listening to. They are 'Hymn' and 'Poor Man's Moody Blues'. You may wonder, therefore, why I have given it four stars. The reason is that that these two tracks are so good that the mediocrity of the rest pales into insignificance. Every time I hear 'Hymn' my eyes start to well up. This song is just Barclay James Harvest at their very best. This is one of those 'build-up' songs that start simply with a strummed guitar and end with full-blown synthesizer, drum and vocal that quite literally brings tears to your eyes, and the vocal harmony shared by John Lees and Les Holroyd is just mind-blowing. 'Poor Man's Moody Blues'is a clever take on 'Nights in White Satin', with a wonderful lead guitar sequence provided by the mutli-talented John Lees. If you are a Barclay James Harvest fan, you will already own this album. If you are not, do yourself a favour and buy it anyway....and then buy 'Everyone is Everybody Else'.
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