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4.1 out of 5 stars
22
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2003
It's very nice to see Polydor finally re-issueing BJH's classic mid-70s albums. Probably most buyers will be old gits like me revisiting their past, but what else are CDs for ? As a teenager I was a big BJH fan. Later I was a bit embarassed about it. Now I can take a balanced view! "Octoberon", like so many BJH albums, has got "almost but not quite" written all over it. If _only_ they had worked with a good strong-willed producer who could have curbed their indulgences they could have really cleaned up (sounds mad but John Cale would have been an interesting choice). Octoberon has got some absolute classic songs on it - "Rock'n'Roll Star", the best of BJH's series of "West Coast" songs has a cool, persistent vibe and a bittersweet theme which easily matches up to the Eagles. "The World Goes On" and "Mayday" are early BJH updated with a pared-down sound (despite the orchestra & choir). "Mayday" is probably one of John Lees' best songs. The rest, well Polk Street Rag lets Lees show that he can inspire air guitar as well as anyone. "Believe in Me" is just sweet. "Suicide?" is...well finally what is it ? It has to be at least part tongue in cheek - the "please for god's sake let me move my car" line for example! Which leaves "Ra". Hmm. By this point every BJH album had to have a Wooly Wolstenholme track which was way out of touch with the rest. Ra is actually pretty good in parts - the middle part has some organ which Pink Floyd would be proud of - but the intro / outro are awful over the top dirges that the rest of the band must have cringed at. Clearly WW has frustrated and trying to cram a whole album into one song. When he had space, on his solo "Maestoso", he produced some gorgeous stuff, but at this point with BJH he was a fish out of water.
Anyway, buy this album if only to hear some of the best work of one of most underated guitarists in British rock.
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on 19 October 2004
If, like me, you're already familiar with this album but decided to purchase it for the improved sound quality then you won't be disappointed. All instruments and vocals are crystal clear, as you'd expect from a modern remastering, though at times it's like a different album after years of listening to an inferior copy.
If you're just interested in the bonus tracks then I'd save your money. To be honest I couldn't tell much difference from the original versions, with the exception of the TOTP recording of Rock 'n' Roll Star. In fact I began to think they'd put the same tracks on twice by mistake.
Highly recommended for the sound improvement but loses a star for the bonus tracks.
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on 14 November 2013
BJH were a guilty secret of mine as a young teenage Prog head.

Amongst my Yes, ELP, Genesis and Camel (along with Rush and Zeppelin) there lurked some BJH.

This is one of their finest hours and the remaster is superb.

After the disappointment of "North" its nice to revisit the real sound of BJH.
Sometimes its better for bands to draw a line under their career.

This is the band at their peak.
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This, their seventh studio album, with so much going for it that, with a harder-handed producer, could have have been astounding. The self-indulgent creativity of the band seemed to be its very weak point. As with others of their mid-career albums, we have a track that doesn't seem to belong anywhere - in this case Ra. Its overblown opening and mad ending are interesting but jar badly with the rest of the album. That said, with several compensating high points - The world Goes On, Mayday, Polk Street Rag, and the slightly comic final track, Suicide - it's an album that delivers much.

BJH never did hit the really big time, but they came close. In 2014, mention of BJH may get the reply "Who?" but back inn the 1970s, BHJ was a significant player. This release on CD, which has been out for a while now, offers a chance for us older folks to listen back to what was, and what might have been.,
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on 8 April 2002
I am surprised that i am the first person to review this underground classic. From the sweeping majesty of World goes on to the heartbreaking beauty/sadness of Suicide this album never fails to impress. Clearly a product of it's time it nevertheless creates an ambience all of its own, a slow burning, smokey candle of an album that demands to be listened to again and again. Lyrically and musically provocative, "Felt the hand push, felt the air rush, felt the sidewalk, fell in line". Classic!
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VINE VOICEon 10 October 2006
For a band that insist on reminding us of the bad things in life, BJH make some beautifully textured, mellow rock. The strings that give gentle colour to 'The World Goes On', the simple, rolling guitar pattern that leads you into 'May Day' and the poignant atmosphere of 'Suicide?' make their collective grumblings easy on the ear. All of the songs here have much to commend them, though I too can grumble a bit (but not a lot, to be honest). The absurd lyric to 'May Day' about not being able to tell night from day and the choir plonked on to the end of 'Ra', for example, are decidedly Spinal Tap moments, yet both tracks are quite majestic. Then there are the cliches, such as the one about paying the piper and the idea they nicked from The Byrds for 'Rock 'n' Roll Star'. Talking of the latter, it seems that BJH had been making mini symphonies for so long that they couldn't remember how to rock when they made this. It's a fine song and well-made, but the drumming is limp. The next track, 'Polk Street Rag' is raunchier, a better song, though BJH are never quite going to freak out. It isn't really their thing. After the semi-positive 'Believe In Me', they pull the rug out from under everything that's gone before with the classic 'Suicide?' which is full of black humour and has a superb ending. Well, they couldn't resist a subject like that, could they?

Yes, 'Octoberon' is an album ripe for lampooning along with those of us who like it, but for all its little niggles, I won't apologise for likng it a lot.
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Octoberon is notable for two (or should that be one and a half) of BJH's best songs. May Day and Suicide? rank with the best the band ever came up with. Suicide? has the kind of lyrics that John Lees excels at. It is a mysterious and complex piece full of atmosphere and suspense. Behind the simple melody is Lees' cutting guitar work. The sharp and direct guitar is underpinned by Woolly's understated keyboards and there are some lovely harmonies towards the end. May Day starts in the vein of so many of John's songs before building to a stunning choral work from almost nowhere. I know that some fans of the band do not like this but I believe the textures have an almost surreal effect. It's Jerusalem, Abide with Me, Land of Hope and Glory all mixed together.

The rest of the track seems to come straight from And Other Short Stories and reminds me of Harry's Song. Elsewhere we have Woolly's Ra which is up to his usual standards and Les weighs in with two of his better numbers Rock n Roll Star and The World Goes On. These are good jaunty pieces with singalong choruses. Overall the album has a lovely pastoral feel with some excellent guitar work. To me this is one of the best BJH albums and one I return to regularly.
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on 7 May 2015
my second favorite album of radio Caroline pirate radio personal top 100 all time Albums back in late '70s. Probably not very relevant seemingly to a young man today but it pays to be good? Ok not in every detail but ...
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on 1 April 2014
1976 punk just emerging and barclay James harvest get there biggest studio album chart placing , for me not as good as gone to earth or time honoured ghosts but still a solid album , pay less than a fiver and you can't go wrong can you .
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on 17 August 2012
no BjH album tops this one from the dramatic cover art to the precision production it all pathes the way for the songs every one of which is like picking your favourite centres from a chocolate box and it all ends with Suicide where by the album tops itself quite literally but not musically ,simply georgeous .Maximus Metalicus.
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