Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
My Favourite Album
on 10 December 2006
This album became my favourite as soon as I first heard it at the age of fifteen in 1975 and it has been the "no.1" ever since.
I was doing some homework one Saturday afternoon with the radio on - it was Alan Freeman's show and he played a song called One Night from Time Honoured Ghosts. Its effect on me was like always having lived in a dark room, then someone coming along and turning on the lights!
On first hearing One Night, here was the music I'd always been waiting to hear! Unhurried, melodic, perfectly composed and arranged. John Lees sang the poignant, sympathetic lyric about prostitution with real heartfelt feeling and laced the music with gorgeous lead guitar phrasing. The overall effect was magical.
The album did not disappoint: In My Life launches it in great fashion at a lick with pacey guitar phrasing and a storming couple of verses , before the song slows in its middle section, picking up the pacey guitar again on the outro. All the songs had, and still have, immense appeal. The two main song-writers in the band (John Lees and Les Holroyd) contribute four songs apiece with Woolly Wolstenholme, the Mellotron and keyboards maestro, chipping in with one short, punchy number, Beyond the Grave. The formula of alternating John's and Les's songs on the album was a successful, oft-repeated one, for the band: the continuous contrast between their slightly differing voices and song-styles enhancing the listening pleasure.
This music is not hard rock, nor could you dance to it. The fact that The Beatles are a big influence on the band is obvious from John's clever tribute song Titles, whose lyrics are made up from Beatles's song titles. Other writers have described Barclay James Harvest's music as soft-rock, but there are also elements of prog-rock about it. The tempo is slow, giving you time to enjoy the beautifully sung melodies, the harmonies; to enjoy the gorgeous guitar work and the fabulous, symphonic keyboards sound which almost acts as the canvas onto which the rest of the music is painted. Whichever way you classify or describe the music, its effect on Time Honoured Ghosts is mesmerising!
Other than the songs already mentioned, the album comprises Les's lush, swirling Jonathan, his prayer Sweet Jesus and John's haunting plea Hymn for the Children - songs which have a depth of quality about them that belies their apparent simplicity; and finally, Les's Song for You and Moongirl are two of the most gorgeous love songs you could ever hope to hear.
The 2003 re-issue includes a version of Child of the Universe (from 1974's "Everyone is Everybody Else" album) originally intended as a US single release - this fine studio recording appears to have been the basis for most live renditions of this timeless classic and is a fine addition to the original LP's songs.