Get this crazy baby off my head!


Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees

Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees - Nexus - 1999 - Eagle Records

A very good album. Recorded under the band name, "Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees", it may as well be a fully blown BJH album. John Lees and Woolly Wolstenholme recreate the great BJH sound, admirably, and all the tracks are good. BJH were one of the most underrated English progressive rock bands. Buy the bands' wonderful "Gone To Earth" album, and there is info on the "Glasnost" album @ BJH/GNOST and the superb "Early Morning Onwards" album @ BJH/EMO


1. Festival! - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
2. The Iron Maiden - (Barclay James Harvest)
3. Brave New World - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
4. Hors D'Oeuvre - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
5. Mocking Bird - (Barclay James Harvest)
6. Sitting Upon A Shelf - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
7. Hymn - (Lees)
8. The Devils That I Keep - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
9. Titles - (Trad/arr. Lees)
10. Float - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
11. Loving Is Easy - (Lees)
12. Star Bright - (Lees/Wolstenholme)
(CD reissued in 2007 on Tyrolis with two bonus tracks, "She Said" and "Galadriel" taken from "Revival - Live 1999" ).


Drums, Percussion - Kevin Whitehead
Electric & Acoustic Bass, Vocals - Craig Fletcher
Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Recorder, Producer - John Lees
Vocals, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Producer - Woolly Wolstenholme
Recorded at Friarmere studios, Saddleworth, England, between April & November 1998


Not strictly a Barclay James Harvest album - the band is in hiatus following the departure of Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard - this 1999 offering sees founder member John Lees reunited with the bands original keyboard player, Woolly Wolstenholme, on a selection of new songs, plus some old favourites, rearranged. Craig Fletcher plays bass, and Kevin Whitehead drums. First up is a rather jokey piece - 'Festival' describing the writers no doubt considerable experiences with festivals over the years, with added weather sound effects! Next is the lush 'The Iron Maiden', this reminds me of early BJH with a pastoral feel, enhanced by orchestral passages from Woolly's keyboards - very nice indeed. 'Brave New World' is a sad song of regret at the end of a life that changed nothing. Rather depressing, but well written. 'Hors D'oeuvre' is a short instrumental that leads into the classic 'Mocking Bird'. This version, especially in the instrumental passage, is less frenetic than previous versions, and makes a nice change. 'Sitting Upon a Shelf' is another reflective song that brings the mood down, before we go into 'Hymn' - another BJH classic that never fails to uplift. Just when we feel up again comes 'The Devils that I Keep' - this one is positively suicidal, but again is well written and performed. 'Titles', a song written using only Beatles titles follows, again this is an excellent new version of this moving song. 'Float' is one of my favourite tracks on this album, and reminds me of much of the earlier pastoral period of the band. 'Loving is Easy' another old song is given a new, radical bluesy arrangement that works well. Finally 'Star Bright' - again that trade mark orchestral sound, cut through by John's soaring guitar runs - really excellent and a new classic for all BJH fans. This in general is a very good album indeed, and I recommend it to all those who appreciate fine songs beautifully executed. © Jon Hall, www.bjharvest.co.uk


John Lees and Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme were founder members of Barclay James Harvest, the melodic rock band with classical leanings which emerged from Oldham in the late sixties. Their relationship endured through nine studio albums and two live doubles, the period of BJH's history which most fans regard as their most creative and productive, and their musical collaborations included such classics as "Mocking Bird", "Galadriel", "Child Of The Universe" and "Hymn". John stayed with BJH after Woolly left in 1979, and it would be nearly twenty years before the guitar and keyboard legends would work together again. When it was announced in March 1998 that Barclay James Harvest would be taking a sabbatical, it was effectively the end of the original band. Henceforth the members of the band would be pursuing solo projects, albeit using variations of the Barclay James Harvest name. John renewed his musical friendship with Woolly, and they began work together with bassist Craig Fletcher and drummer Kevin Whitehead under the name Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees. This line-up recorded an album of half new songs, half re-recordings of BJH classics, entitled Nexus, which was released by Eagle Records in February 1999. A tour of Germany and Switzerland followed and was recorded for the Revival - Live 1999 CD which appeared in March 2000, after which there were more concerts in Germany and Greece, plus the first concerts in England by any of the band members since 1992. John and Woolly started work on a second studio album, with the working title North, but following the sudden death of his manager, David Walker, John didn't feel ready to make an album at that time and it was shelved. Woolly turned his attention to solo work, producing two studio albums and a live set between 2003 and 2005. By March 2005, John was ready to resume his musical endeavours, and an announcement was made to the effect that future live and studio work in collaboration with Woolly was planned, under the new name John Lees' Barclay James Harvest. The first full UK tour by any members of Barclay James Harvest since 1992 took place in late 2006, and was a great success. The London show at the Shepherds Bush Empire was filmed and released in November 2007 as a DVD and CD entitled Legacy. Meanwhile both John and Woolly have been busy writing new material and are looking forward to new projects in 2008. The story continues ... © Keith & Monika Domone, 2007, http://bjharvest.co.uk/jlbjh/biog.htm


Barclay James Harvest is a British rock band specialising in Symphonic/Melodic Rock with folk/progressive/classical influences. The band was founded in Saddleworth, a civil parish now in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in 1966 by John Lees, Les Holroyd, Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme and Mel Pritchard (1948-2004). After early success in the UK with their second album Once Again, the band broke into the mainstream European market with their 1977 set Gone to Earth. Woolly Wolstenholme – whose mellotron playing was a trademark of the band's sound in the 70s – left in 1979. Woolly pursued a short solo career fronting Maestoso before retiring from the music business to pursue farming. The remaining three members continued. At the height of their success they played a free concert in front of the Reichstag in Berlin (Germany), with an estimated attendance of 250,000 people (30 August 1980). They were also the first Western rock band to play an open-air concert in pre-Glasnost East Germany, playing in Treptower Park, East Berlin on 14 July 1987 to a 170,000+ audience. The band continued as a threesome, with regular guest musicians supporting, until 1998. Some 1990s albums were released under the abbreviated name BJH. In 1998, musical differences in the band saw the three members agree to take a sabbatical. John Lees subsequently released an album mixing new songs and BJH classics, entitled "Nexus", under the band name "Barclay James Harvest through the eyes of John Lees". Woolly Wolstenholme played in (and composed for) this band, subsequently resurrecting Maestoso to record and tour with new material, as well as back-catalogue favourites. Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard teamed up to record under the name "Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd". Lees and Wolstenholme recently (2006/7) toured under the slightly modified band title "John Lees' Barclay James Harvest" Mel Pritchard died suddenly of a heart attack in early 2004. All three "derivatives" of the original Barclay James Harvest lineup continue to record and tour, and enjoy ongoing popularity, particularly in Germany, France and Switzerland.


Barclay James Harvest was, for many years, one of the most hard-luck outfits in progressive rock. A quartet of solid rock musicians -- John Lees, guitar, vocals; Les Holroyd, bass, vocals; Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme, keyboards, vocals; and Mel Pritchard, drums -- with a knack for writing hook-laden songs built on pretty melodies, they harmonized like the Beatles and wrote extended songs with more of a beat than the Moody Blues. They were signed to EMI at the same time as Pink Floyd, and both bands moved over to the company's progressive rock-oriented Harvest imprint at the same time, yet somehow, they never managed to connect with the public for a major hit in England, much less America. The group was formed in September of 1966 in Oldham, Lancashire. Lees and Wolstenholme were classmates who played together in a band called the Blues Keepers; that group soon merged with a band called the Wickeds, which included Holroyd and Pritchard. They became Barclay James Harvest in June of 1967 and began rehearsing at an 18th century farmhouse in Lancashire. The psychedelic era was in full swing, and the era of progressive rock about to begin -- the Moody Blues, in particular, were beginning to cut an international swathe across the music world. BJH cut a series of demos late in the year, and by the spring of 1968 they were signed to EMI's Parlophone label; in April they issued their first single, a folky, faux-classical song called "Early Morning." The group got caught up a year later in a corporate change at EMI, and it was decided to move the more progressive sounding groups on the label onto a new label -- Harvest, taken from BJH's name. Their first release on the new label was the single "Brother Thrush." In 1970, they released their first album, Barclay James Harvest, which included several of the early songs and displayed the group's strengths: filled with strong harmony singing, aggressive electric guitar, and swelling Mellotron parts, it set the pattern for their subsequent releases, with Lees and Holroyd handling most of the songwriting. The album failed to chart, and a subsequent tour was a financial disaster. Their second album, Once Again (1971), was an artistic letdown, made up of rather lethargic songs, although it did contain the superb, "Mockingbird," The band recorded two more albums for Harvest, Short Stories (1971) and Baby James Harvest (1972), and spent much of 1972 on the road, including an unsuccessful tour of the U.S. They also released a pair of singles, "When The City Sleeps" and "Breathless," under the pseudonym "Bombadil" (a name taken from a J.R.R. Tolkien short story), all to no avail. 1973 saw them part company with EMI after one last single, "Rock and Roll Woman." Later in 1973, the band signed with Polydor, and their fortunes began turning around, though only very gradually. Their first album for the new label, Everyone Is Everybody Else, seemed promising: it was a more powerful and coherent work than the group had ever released for EMI, with Lees' guitar dominating on songs like "Paper Wings" and "For No One." The album also presented the first example of the group consciously paying tribute to (and satirizing) another group's hit song -- "Great 1974 Mining Disaster" was a very heavy sounding tribute/satire of the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster 1941." (They would later do work in this vein involving the Moody Blues.) The album failed to chart, however, as did the single "Poor Boy Blues," with its gorgeous harmonies. It seemed at first as though BJH was locked once again into a cycle of failure. Finally, in late 1974, their double album Barclay James Harvest Live broke through to the public -- the group was rewarded with a Top 40 placement in England and more sales activity on the European continent than they'd previously seen. Their next album, Time Honoured Ghosts, recorded in San Francisco, continued this gradual breakthrough when it was released in 1975, reaching number 32 in England. A year later, Octoberon reached the Top 20. An EP containing live versions of "Rock 'N Roll Star" and "Medicine Man" became another chart entry in the spring of 1977. By this time, EMI had begun to take advantage of the success of the group's Polydor work, and released A Major Fancy, a John Lees' solo album that had sat on the shelf for five years. In 1977, they released Gone to Earth, their most accomplished album to date, and by the end of the year the group found themselves playing to arena-sized audiences. The release of XII in 1978 -- which managed to just miss the British Top 30 -- was followed by the group's first (and only) personnel shake-up. In June of 1979, Wolstenholme announced his exit from the band in favor of a solo career; the group's final tour with Wolstenholme was recorded and later released by Polydor under the title The Live Tapes. He was replaced by two new members, singer-keyboardman-saxophonist Kevin McAlea and singer-guitarist-keyboardman Colin Browne; Wolstenholme released one solo album, 1979's Maestro, to little success and then retired for a time from the music business. Their 1979 album Eyes of the Universe was a modest hit in England, but its release marked a flashpoint in Barclay James Harvest's career in continental Europe, especially Germany; on August 30, 1980, the band performed a free concert in front of nearly 200,000 people at the Reichstag in Berlin, which was filmed and recorded. A subsequent live album, Concert for the People, became the group's biggest selling album in England, rising to number 15 in 1982. Turn of the Tide (1981) and Ring of Changes (1983) were less successful, although the latter did spawn their last charting single, "Just a Day Away." Their subsequent Polydor albums, Victims of Circumstance, Face to Face, and Welcome to the Show, charted ever lower in England, even as the group's popularity grew in Europe. In 1988, they released a new live album, Glasnost, cut at a concert in East Berlin.The group marked the 25th anniversary with a concert in Liverpool, and toured to support a British Polydor compilation, The Best of Barclay James Harvest. © Bruce Eder, All Music Guide