Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Album Portfolio

Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees - Nexus

Nexus album design

CD: Eagle EAGCD052, 22nd February 1999


Tracklisting

Recording Details

Recording Studios:
Friarmere Studios, Saddleworth.

Recording Dates:
April to November 1998

Producer:
Woolly Wolstenholme & John Lees, assisted by Craig Fletcher

Musicians

John Lees (lead guitar, vocals, recorder)
Woolly Wolstenholme (keyboards, 6 and 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals)
Craig Fletcher (bass, backing vocals)
Kevin Whitehead (drums, percussion, backing vocals)

Title

"n. A bond; a linked group" [Chambers Dictionary]. An obvious reference to the re-established bond between John and Woolly and the fact that this line-up is linked to, but not the same as, Barclay James Harvest. The sub-title "Through The Eyes Of John Lees", was the form of words agreed between John, Les and the band's management so that, whilst BJH was officially on sabbatical, John and Les could both continue to use the band name in this way.

Sleeve

Largely designed by Woolly, to reflect the "link" theme of the title. Much has been made of the fact that there are four hands in the picture (all left hands!) but in fact the photo itself is a stock library shot and so the viewere shouldn't read too much significance into it. The original version of the front cover (above), has the wording "Through the Eyes Of John Lees" at the bottom. For later pressings this was moved up to just below the "Barclay James Harvest" to make the distinction from a "normal" BJH album more obvious. Since then, "Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees" has become the de facto name of this band line-up (with the subsequent addition of Jeff Leach as a second keyboard player). For live concerts, the "BJHTTEOJL" was supplemented with "featuring former founder-member Woolly Wolstenholme", which some felt was to underrate the importance of Woolly to the band. The reason for John's name appearing on the front cover and not Woolly's is simply contractual - the record company deal is with John, and Woolly prefers not to commit himself to a particular record label or management deal.

The comments on the songs below are John and Woolly's own guide to Nexus, and first appeared in issue 44 of the fan club magazine, Nova Lepidoptera.




Festival!

(May contain nuts)

A song "assembled" in the studio. One building block is a guitar riff from an unrecorded BJH song called "Wandering". Throw in some of the tonality of "Lives On The Line", a grim waltz and liberal references to hippydom, middle-age, mud and... voila! (The crowd is a real, genuine BJH audience!).

Lyrics:
It's endless summer once again and everything is fine
Save for a small concern about the rising water line
We've junked our monkey suits
We're heading west and searching for the country life

One evening spent in digging out the tent we used last time
We don't do coke we only smoke what we smoked in our prime
And it was at this show, some years ago
That Janice said she'd be my wife

FESTIVAL!

Just sitting here there's nothing different from those student days
Except the house, the car, the kids, the golf, the job that pays
And life has done its trick
Our waists are thick but never mind our hair is thin

Although it must be said the food is bad and full of flies
It's great to be back here with Van and Bob and all the guys
A special thanks must go to farmer Jones
Who really owns the shit we're in

FESTIVAL!

We're all stuck in time, like the ticking of a clock

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control




The Iron Maiden

Thirty years on and it's getting there. A more spacious tempo and a particularly suitable "muted string orchestra" sample make it more reflective. Extending the guitar part and adding a recorder gives it its authentic feel, and whereas the original ended with a “Tierce de Picardie” B major, this time it’s F sharp.

Lyrics:
She walks on through the night
Her circumstances slight
Are only helping her to fail
And though she feels she's right
She tries with all her might
And makes the deepest peril pale
Oh, but she is unreal
Oh, but she doesn't feel
Oh, but she is unreal

She chooses who to love
And then unlike a dove
She takes the laughter from their smile
She wears a velvet glove
Her friends may find it rough
It is a gauntlet all the while
Oh, but she is unreal
Oh, but she doesn't feel
Oh, but she is unreal

[Barclay James Harvest, © Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd]




Brave New World

The original 1971 version, demoed at Abbey Road on acoustic guitar, showed its folk roots and had a chorus that seemed inappropriate to its disillusioned message. A more contemporary salsa feel and references to "Galadriel" and "Brother Thrush" continue in the same vein. The guitar solo is not what you would expect - it surprised us all.

Lyrics:
When I was just a child
My world it was so small
The empty playground swings
The corner shop, the penny drinks
The backyard walls
Of a brave new world

As those years passed by
I never thought to try
To memorise the dreams
The childhood fantasies
Of a brave new world

Some things change, some stay the same
Some don't even notice, some feel the strain
It's everyone's fault and nobody's blame
And who can say if that's too much to ask?

When I was twenty-four
My small world closed the door
I felt like I should cry
I saw men born to kill and born to die
For this brave new world

So now I'm old and grey
And life has passed my way
Those tears have all run dry
Death's desperation lies on every eye
In this brave new world

Some things change, some stay the same
Some don't even notice, some feel the strain
It's everyone's fault and nobody's blame
And who can say if that's too much to ask
Of a brave new world?

You know you were dreaming
You know that the streets weren't paved with gold
You know you were dreaming
It's part of the scheme of things
That "Brother Thrush" grows old

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]




Hors d'Oeuvre

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]

Mocking Bird

Although "Hors" is treated as a completely separate element it does return in modified form in the final part of the centre section. A darker "Mocking Bird", this. Of all the re-makes, it was emotionally the most difficult. You can change notes, but you can't change sentiment! The final "do it one more time" is not an appeal for more... Thanks go to Ian Brownbill for his cornet solo.

Lyrics:
Rain, sea, surf, sand, clouds and sky
Hush now baby, don't you cry
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs in the trees
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs
Just for you and me

Rain, sea, surf, sand, clouds and sky
Time will see your tears run dry
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs in the trees
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs
Just for you and me

Rain, sea, surf, sand, clouds and sun
Bless the tears of love now gone
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs in the trees
There's a mocking bird
Singing songs
Singing just for me...

[Barclay James Harvest, © Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd]




Sitting Upon A Shelf

For some reason this song never saw the light of day. Written in 1969, perhaps it smacked too much of the non-specific and really found it hard to compete with the other songs being offered at that time. Still, it has no pretence to be anything other than a simple melodic effort, albeit a psychedelic one.

Lyrics:
Sitting upon a shelf
Trying to get back into myself
I cannot anyway
I've lost complete control of myself
Never thought that I'd find out
Just what this life is about
There'll be no doubt any more
I'll find the truth that's for sure

Sitting upon the floor
Wondering what they've put me here for
A hole in the roof my friend
Seems that I've lost control once again
Never thought that I'd find out
Just what this life is about
There'll be no doubt any more
I'll find the truth that's for sure

Sitting back on the shelf
Trying to get back into myself
Bend as you pass the door
Watch for the water here on the floor
Never thought that I'd find out
Just what this life is about
There'll be no doubt any more
I'll find the truth that's for sure

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]




Hymn

Less strumming, more pace and lead guitar replaces the original’s horns. The carillon that forms the background of this revisit was already in the "library" before it was applied to "Hymn". It only required a move from minor to major and a shift in key to make it cycle better. An extra D Major here and there rings the changes. Additional heavenly singing by Sarah Pickering.

Lyrics:
Valley's deep and the mountain's so high
If you want to see God you've got to move on the other side
You stand up there with your head in the clouds
Don't try to fly you know you might not come down
Don't try to fly, dear God, you might not come down

Jesus came down from Heaven to earth
The people said it was a virgin birth
Jesus came down from Heaven to earth
The people said it was a virgin birth

He told great stories of the Lord
And said he was the saviour of us all
He told great stories of the Lord
And said he was the saviour of us all

For this they/we killed him, nailed him up high
He rose again as if to ask us why
Then he ascended into the sky
As if to say in God alone you soar
As if to say in God alone we fly.

Valley's deep and the mountain's so high
If you want to see God you've got to move on the other side
You stand up there with your head in the clouds
Don't try to fly you know you might not come down
Don't try to fly, dear God, you might not come down

[Lees, © EMI Music Publishing Ltd]




The Devils That I Keep

This and "Float" started life as parts of one song - the only evidence now is a similarity between the opening (and closing) section of "Devils" and the short heroic section following the repeat (un-sung) chorus of "Float". The centre drama may yet appear again!

Lyrics:
There is a place that I have been
It's like no other place I've seen
The blade is cold against my skin
It's not quite out, it's not quite in

It seems I've fallen off the earth
No sign of hope, no sense of worth
And in my mouth a bitter pill
It makes me sleep, it keeps me still

I can't explain the words they miss
If there's a point in all of this
Why can't the gods who planets make
Just give me peace for pity's sake?

It's not those years and years I spent
Within a world without event
It's not these things that make me weep
It's more the devils that I keep

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]




Titles

Slower, longer, less obvious. If you listen to those Beatles' songs that inspired it, you realise that even those references have "moved on". For some unexplainable reason, “Fixing A Hole” has become Bernard Cribbins’ “There was I, digging this hole”!

Lyrics:
The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Here comes the sun it's all right
People shout for more
But were you trying to deceive telling me
All you need is love to succeed

Lady Madonna let it be
Something in the way you moved me yesterday
All you need is love so they say

Across the universe
One after nine 'o' nine
I got a feeling for you blue
And I feel fine
I tried so hard to make believe that I'd see
All you need is love to succeed

Lady Madonna let it be
Something in the way you moved me yesterday
All you need is love so they say

Imagine nowhere man
In my life's where you'd be
Band on the run can't buy you love and I agree
It was a long and winding road
Before I'd see
The fool upon the hill was really me

Lady Madonna let it be
Something in the way you moved me yesterday
All you need is love so they say

[trad./arr. Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd]




Float

Whatever you think of this piece you have to thrill a little to the stonking E flat major chord towards the end. It may be the loudest thing on the disc! John's guitar and the French horns battle it out in the middle, but the falling whole-tone scale is finally victorious and drags us off into deeper waters.

Lyrics:
Sometimes I think of them now
Those honey-scented days
When sun's bright rays shone on my face
Then summer blazed through the trees
And softened by the shade
It filled that sylvan place

Float
Go with the flow
Not high not low
Before you go
Float
And live in hope
When judgement comes
It comes to save us all

Now all that's left is a sound
A hollow echoing
No faith no heart in what I make
And those bright things I once saw
Are shadowy
Dead leaves
Like dreams
Drift on the lake

Float
Go with the flow
Not high not low
Before you go
Float
And live in hope
When judgement comes
It comes to save us all

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]




Loving Is Easy

Still risque - but now laid back. The original was ponderous and rather obvious. This version - less smutty-slut, more smoothy-groove. Harmonica and guitar dovetail nicely -and the whole thing ends in hysterical laughter. All right!! (all right??)

Lyrics:
Even the bad times are good when you're around
Darlin', you kiss away all my blues
Even the hard times are easy to face
'Cause I know that your love will come through

You light up my flame, then you drive me insane
There ain't nothing that you cannot do
Then you rip up my heart, you just tear it apart
As I shoot all my love into you

Lovin' is easy with both eyes closed
You know that's the best way to feel it
Lovin' is easy with both eyes closed
Just get a hold and watch how it grows

Even the bad times are good when you're around
Darlin', you kiss away all my blues
Even the hard times are easy to face
'Cause I know that your love will come through

You tear up my soul and then fill up the whole
Of your being, your love, your desire
Then you grab for my heart and just tear it apart
As I shoot all my love in your fire

Lovin' is easy with both eyes closed
You know that's the best way to feel it
Lovin' is easy with both eyes closed
Just get a hold and watch how it grows

John Lees, © EMI Music Publishing Ltd




Star Bright

The one item that existed absolutely from its birth to its demise. The harp 'n' bass pluck marks its inevitable progress - it had to end this CD in true BJH style.

Lyrics:
They all tell her
"Leave the kid alone
He's got something on his mind"
I feel like I'm choking
Drowning in her fear
And I don't know what's inside
There was a time when we'd show all our feelings
In star bright love

She tries to tell me
That I'm too young to go
I'm playing it like a fool
But this fool can't listen
To anything she says
'Cause deep in my heart I know

I had my dreams as a child
Then the man awoke to reality
Like memories lost in the past
All I want now is star bright love

[Lees/Wolstenholme, Copyright Control]


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