Barclay James Harvest

John Lees Album Portfolio


A Major Fancy

A Major Fancy original LP sleeveA Major Fancy CD cover

LP: Harvest SHSM 2018, July 1977
CD: 3 bonus tracks, Eagle EAGCD 107, 18th October, 1999


n.b. the LP was originally scheduled for release as Harvest SHVL 811 on 1st June, 1973, with different track titles as follows:

Side 1:
Untitled No.6 - Allergy
Child Of The Universe
Kes (A Major Fancy)
Untitled No.8 (A Lost Affair)

Side 2:
Untitled No.2 - Sweet Faced Jane
Witburg Night
Untitled No.1 - Heritage
Untitled No.4 - Hands Across The Water

The LP release was shelved when BJH left the Harvest label, and belatedly issued four years later under the Harvest Heritage imprint. The original tracklist above is in the same order as on the released version, even though the track titles would indicate otherwise. The confusion appears to have arisen because during the gap between the album's recording in 1972 and its eventual issue in 1977, EMI had managed to lose the original artwork (see sleeve section below) and track details, and seem to have guessed at the correct titles, perhaps from notes on the tape boxes themselves.


Tracklisting



Recording Details

Recording Studio:
Abbey Road Studios, St. Johns Wood, London
Strawberry Studios, Stockport ("Kes" and percussion for "Untitled No.2")

Recording Dates:
December, 1972

Mixing Dates:
December, 1972 to January, 1973 at Abbey Road

Producer:
Wally Waller

Engineers:
Tony Clark at Abbey Road,
Peter Tattersall at Strawberry



Additional Personnel

Skip Allen (The Pretty Things, drums and percussion); Wally Waller (The Pretty Things, bass, electric twelve-string, harmony vocals, percussion, keyboards and arrangement); Gordon Edwards (piano); Rod Argent (The Zombies, Argent, organ); Graham Preskett (arrangement for choir and strings, electric piano, violin); Eric Stewart (10cc, acoustic guitars); Kev Godley (10cc, ashtray, beer bottle and fire extinguisher); Rex Morrison (tenor sax).



Sleeve

John Lees photographs by Doug McKenzie, kestrel photograph by E. Breeze-Jones / Bruce Coleman Ltd. Retouching: Michael Mann Studio. Sleeve notes by Don Hurley.

As mentioned earlier, the original sleeve design was lost before the album finally appeared, but the plan was for a gatefold sleeve depicting a kestrel in the natural environment painted by a well-known artist. Unfortunately, the original has never been recovered, but John has been kind enough to give us a copy of a sketch by the same artist, which gives an idea of how the album might have looked if all had gone according to the original plan:-

Original sleeve


Untitled No.1 - Heritage

The opening track on John's only solo album to date sets the mood for the album with a rather different style from John's work within Barclay James Harvest - the music has a more free-form, jazzy feel, and whilst the song is the kind of love song which could have appeared on a BJH album, there is more emphasis on developing the instrumental passages. The original title was "Untitled No. 6 - Allergy" , so John was not best pleased when it was played on Radio One in 1973 and introduced as "An Allegory" by Barclay James Harvest!
Lyrics:
I'm in love, baby, for the first time
I'm in love, pretty woman, with you
I'm in love, baby for the first time
I'm in love, pretty woman, with you

Take the back out of life
You are driving me wild
And I kind of like the way you look tonight
Well that's all right
Early morning we rise
Wipe a tear from your eye
But don't look away, darling, when you say
"That's 0.K"

I'm in love, baby, for the first time
I'm in love, pretty woman, with you
I'm in love, baby for the first time
I'm in love, pretty woman, with you

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Child Of The Universe

The original version of this BJH classic, even though it was not the first to be released. It was initially rejected as unsuitable for Barclay James Harvest, so John recorded this orchestrated version with the Mike Sammes Singers providing the choral effects. When the rest of the band heard the finished recording, they were so impressed that it was decided to add the song to the next BJH album, Everyone Is Everybody Else, by which time the release of John's album had been indefinitely delayed. When A Major Fancy finally appeared in 1977, "Child Of The Universe" was issued as a single to promote it.

Lyrics:
I'm a child of South Africa
I'm a child of Vietnam
I'm a child of Northern Ireland
I'm a small boy with blood on his hands

Yes I'm a child of the universe
Yes I'm a child of the universe
You can see me on the TV every night
Always there to join in someone else's fight

I didn't ask to be born and I don't ask to die
I'm an endless dream, a gene machine
That cannot reason why

Yes I'm a child of the universe
Yes I'm a child of the universe
You can see me on the TV every day
I'm the child next door three thousand miles away

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Kes (A Major Fancy)

The instrumental which gives the album its title was recorded with Eric Stewart of 10cc at his own Strawberry Studios in Stockport. The inspiration came from the fact that John and Olwen hand-reared two baby kestrels after one parent bird was shot and the other deserted the nest. The expression "major fancy" is commonly used in northern England to describe someone's main interest or hobby, although the album's title may also be taken as having a double meaning, referring to the musical key of A Major.

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Untitled No.2

The original title of this song ("Untitled No. 8 - A Lost Affair") clearly indicates the subject matter here. The track again has a very jazzy feel, and was recorded at Abbey Road with extra percussion added at Strawberry, notably from 10cc's Kev Godley, who is credited with playing ashtray, beer bottle and fire extinguisher!

Lyrics:
For the first time in a long time, child, I saw your face
You were looking up to me, oh so kind
And my mind was filled with hate
You were looking up to me, oh so kind
Just a shadow of a woman, didn't realise
That the love I'd saved was the love you'd thrown away

For the first time in a long time, child, I knew your name
Not the whys or wherefores, hows or whens
Like lightning down it came
And you were looking up to me, oh so kind
Just a shadow of a woman, didn't realise
That the love I'd saved was the love you'd thrown away

Yes, I was looking up to you, oh so kind
Just a shadow of a woman, didn't realise
That the love I'd saved was the love you'd thrown away

For the first time in a long time, child, I heard you sigh
Saw your face, your name, your eyes, your hair
Won't you get back in my mind
You were looking up to me, oh so kind
Just a shadow of a woman, didn't realise
That the love I'd saved was the love you'd thrown away

Yes, I was looking up to you, oh so kind
Just a shadow of a woman, didn't realise
That the love I'd saved was the love you'd thrown away

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Sweet Faced Jane

The second side of the album opens with a more up-beat and commercial love song boasting a strong melody and some interesting sounds courtesy of additional violin and tenor sax.

Lyrics:
I met a girl the other day
She said, "Son, are you going my way
Or will you love and leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"
I passed her low, I passed her high
But I could never pass her by
She said, "Will you love or leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"

No, don't hurt or grieve me
Leavin' ain't for you
Leavin' ain't for you
My Sweet Faced Jane, la la lady of my mind

She turned me up, I turned her down
She turned my colours all around
She said, "Will you love or leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"
I picked her up, she let me drop
And led me on and made me stop
She said, "Will you love or leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"

No, don't hurt or grieve me
Leavin' ain't for you
Leavin' ain't for you
My Sweet Faced Jane, la la lady of my mind

She turned me up, I turned her down
She turned my colours all around
She said, "Will you love or leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"
I picked her up, she let me drop
And led me on and made me stop
She said, "Will you love or leave your Sweet Faced Jane?"

No, don't hurt or grieve me
Leavin' ain't for you
Leavin' ain't for you
My Sweet Faced Jane, la la lady of my mind

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Witburg Night

A much more introspective song follows, with the moody atmosphere perfectly complemented by the vibes and off-key "cracked bell" effects produced by Wally Waller on the tubular bells. Witburg is a small town in South Africa, where BJH had been on tour a couple of months before this album was recorded.

Lyrics:
Your soft brown hair left traces on
The pillowed mind you slept upon
And the Witburg night
She moved on to the dawn

Your green-blue eyes I idolise
The child-fair face in woman's sleep
And the Witburg night
Well she crept by to the dawn

We tried to make love in the night
My trembling limbs refused to share
The hidden meaning in my mind
That tomorrow night might be the only time

I sat and talked you lay and smiled
We'd kiss and laugh, hold on tight
To what we got
The Witburg night 'till the dawn

We'd dream awhile of things to come
Removed our clothes and we were one
With the Witburg night
And she moved on to the dawn

We tried to make love in the night
My trembling limbs refused to share
The hidden meaning in my mind
That tomorrow night might be...
Tomorrow night might be the only time

We tried to make love in the night
My trembling limbs refused to share
The hidden meaning in my mind
That tomorrow night might be the only time

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Long Ships

Another contrast here, with "Long Ships" employing a potent mixture of Norse mythology and characters from Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings to create an epic tale which conjures up a lost age of heroism in the teeth of the elements. This is the most confusing track title-wise, as it appears to have been known originally as "Untitled No.1 - Heritage"! It is segued into the following song by a "Link Piece", a short instrumental featuring John's guitar and a Moog, arranged by Wally Waller.

Lyrics:
Long ships sailing on a windy day
Muddy waters to the sea
Blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl
Stood waving me goodbye
'Neath the dragon's prow lies
The Devil and the deep blue sea

Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling...
Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling sea

Elrond by the sail and Legolas the helm
Mighty oars raise to the sky
A hundred men or more
And mines below our feet
All are pledged to fight
For the warlords or to die

The north winds bite so cold
With tales of grief and woe
The storm clouds gather to the east
Uncharted course is set
As we head for the sun
To the green, rich isles
In the middle of the rolling sea

Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling...
Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling sea

The time and tide flow by
Like dreams below our feet
The journey lingers in deceit
The god's relentless cry
To set our spirits free
Still lingers in the souls close to defeat

Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling...
Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling sea

It's thirty days or more
Since we last sighted land
The sails are torn and the oars now weak
The green land far away
Proud heads bowed in their grief
Lord Odin take our bodies
To the deep blue sea

Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling...
Woman it's all right
You were born to be free
Free to be borne by the wind and the tides
Across the rolling sea

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


Untitled No.3

The album ends with one of the more BJH-sounding songs, which even features a Mellotron, played here by producer Wally Waller. Originally called "Untitled No. 4 - Hands Across The Water", it's a beautiful love song set off by some plaintive guitar-work and violin, whilst the lyrics of the chorus bring to mind that later BJH classic, "Poor Man's Moody Blues".

Lyrics:
Send a message to my lady
Won't you tell her that I love her
And when chance well
I'll be back again
Because I need her more than I want her
And I want her more than I need her
And when times are right
I'll be coming home

Yes I love her
Yes I need her
Yes I want her more than I can say
Love, love, love please find a way
To see me again

Oh the many roads I've travelled
Only serve as sad reminders
Of the places that I've been
And wished to stay
But there's one place I keep wishing
And my lady I am missing
That's the place I'll send my message today

Yes I love her
Yes I need her
Yes I want her more than I can say
Love, love, love please find a way
To see me again

Oh the many roads I've travelled
Only serve as sad reminders
Of the places that I've been
And wished to stay
But there's one place I keep wishing
And my lady I am missing
That's the place I'll send my message today

Yes I love her
Yes I need her
Yes I want her more than I can say
Love, love, love please find a way
To see me again

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd.]


John Lees discography
Main Barclay James Harvest discography page
Home Page