Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Barclay James Harvest and other short stories

other short stories album cover    other short stories remastered CD cover


Side 1
Medicine Man (John Lees)
Someone There You Know (Barclay James Harvest)
Harry's Song (John Lees)
Ursula (The Swansea Song) (Barclay James Harvest)
Little Lapwing (Les Holroyd)

Side 2
Song With No Meaning (Les Holroyd)
Blue John's Blues (John Lees)
The Poet (Woolly Wolstenholme)
After The Day (John Lees)


Bonus tracks on remastered CD:
Brave New World (Lees/Wolstenholme) [1971 demo version]
She Said (John Lees) [1971 BBC session]
Galadriel (John Lees) [1971 BBC session]
Ursula (The Swansea Song) (Barclay James Harvest) [1971 BBC session]
Someone There You Know (Barclay James Harvest) [1971 BBC session]
Medicine Man (John Lees) [1972 BBC session]


Recording Details

Recording Studio:
Abbey Road Studios, St.John's Wood, London

Recording Dates:
18th July, 1971 to 16th August, 1971

Producer:
Wally Allen and Barclay James Harvest

Executive Producer:
Norman Smith

Additional Personnel

Orchestra Manager & Conductor: Martyn Ford

Arrangers: Toni Cooke and Martyn Ford

Orchestra Leader: David Whiston

Martyn Ford

Martyn Ford replaced Robert Godfrey as BJH's musical arranger in 1971, graduating from his earlier place as orchestra leader. With his own orchestra, Martyn later scored a Top 40 UK hit with "Let Your Body Go Downtown" in 1977.

Wally Allen

Wally first came to prominence as the bassist in The Pretty Things, before going on to production work.

Sleeve

Designed by Barry Honeyford, the original gatefold sleeve included colour photos of the band by Barry Wentzel, a black and white photo of the orchestra by Peter Vernon, sleeve notes by Roy Hollingworth of the Melody Maker and lyrics.


Medicine Man

John's classic opener was inspired by Ray Bradbury's novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, the title of which was itself a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, and of course John used the same line in "Lady Macbeth" (1990). Bradbury is best known for his science fiction, and this story concerns a sinister travelling fair and a carousel which can make the riders of its flying horses grow younger or older - the calliope is the mechanical steam-powered organ which produces a carousel's music. The band were not happy with this arrangement of the song, which was why they later re-recorded it for the B-side of "Thank You".

Lyrics:
Didn't anybody see his hand move faster
Than the lightning in his eyes
Oh! what a cold surprise the flying horses cried
And didn't anybody want to ask the calliope
To call the tune
The flying horses crooned but did not know

The Medicine Man sits on the stage
Eats fire and water, earth and air while we all stare
The silver blade burns bright
And tells us to beware
Of mirrored passages that throw a thousand images
Of younger days
The wheel spins slower as it calls us back to play

Round and round now we go
Shout your name to the wind
As it spins by your side
Coloured lights echo as the sound slips on by
Could that have been me?

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


Someone There You Know

Woolly's first contribution to Other Short Stories was about a failed love affair, and featured Les on piano, whilst Woolly played the mellotron parts. Woolly insists that the line in the chorus which follows "your shadow's sinking low" is "just like a stone", and not "just like you're stoned"!

Lyrics:
I've been looking for a place that I know well
It's a long long way from here and when I get there
I will tell, I will tell

I've been looking for a time that I once knew
I could spend some happy hours just being there with you
It doesn't matter where you go
As long as there is someone there you know

So if you need a friend you can depend on me
'Cause I know what it feels to be alone
And in the darkest night you need a light to see
Your shadow's sinking low
Just like a stone
Feels like a broken bone
Guess I'll go on home

I've been looking for someone I know so well
She's a long long way from me and when I find her
I will tell her
It doesn't matter where she goes
As long as there is someone there she knows

[Barclay James Harvest, © Ardmore & Beechwood/EMI]


Harry's Song

John Lees: "This one was written after the death of a much-loved family pet, a blue-fronted Amazon parrot, which gave us a lot of pleasure." Apparently, the original chorus finished with "Young Harry's coming back to stay" rather than "Young Harry he passed away". Harry was one of many parrots that John has owned down the years, the latest being a rather elderly African Grey named Fritz!
Lyrics:
There's a little bit of you and some of me
There's a little bit of everything you see
But you don't know why Harry cried

There's a time right after love when you feel low
Like a bird with perfect wings denied the sky
But you don't know why Harry cried

Take a look at the common man
He can talk with the use of his hands
Pass you on by with a smile
Like he just don't care
Take a look at yourself in the light
People see by the look in your eyes
Either you're deaf or you're blind
Or you just don't care Well something stirred today
Young Harry he passed away

Someone moves and a leaf falls to the ground
Morning comes and he is not around
But you don't know why Harry cried

Well you pick him up and you put him in your hand
And he slips on through like tiny bits of sand
But you don't know why Harry cried

Take a look at the common man
He can talk with the use of his hands
Pass you on by with a smile
Like he just don't care
Take a look at yourself in the light
People see by the look in your eyes
Either you're deaf or you're blind
Or you just don't care Well something stirred today
Young Harry he passed away
Bye bye

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


Ursula (The Swansea Song)

Woolly: "This one and 'Someone There You Know' were about the same thing, and were written at a particularly traumatic time in my life". The beautiful ending (for musicians , an F# major chord coming after an A major finish) was Woolly's attempt to link it with "Little Lapwing", but to no avail, as on the record a gap was left between the two songs.

Lyrics:
I once loved a lady who did change into a child
I saw the light of day shine in her eyes
I loved her like a baby and I raised her to the sky
It seems the light of day did pass me by

Now she walks along the seashore
And she listens to the sea
But I can't say if she ever thinks of me

If I were of the ocean
Or a wave upon the sand
Or just a drop of water in her hand
A pebble or a broken shell
A rock upon the shore
I doubt if I could love her any more

Now she walks along the seashore
And she listens to the sea
And I can't say if she ever thinks of me
No I can't say if she ever thinks of me

[Barclay James Harvest, © Ardmore & Beechwood/EMI]


Little Lapwing

This one is unusual in that, although the song is credited to Les, John wrote the lyrics, returning to one of his favourite themes, birds, for inspiration. Les not only played bass and sang the lead vocal, but is also credited with acoustic guitars, twelve string guitars, steel guitar and piano!

Lyrics:
Bye, bye, bye
The time has come round again, my friend
A life and some time I just gotta spend
So bye bye, my friend

See you again
My mind in my pocket
The sun in my eye
There's gold in the mountains
The streams run by
So see you again

Swing low, swing high
Talk of the times, the love and the laughing
I'll come back to you in the spring, little lapwing
'Till then, bye bye

[Les Holroyd, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


Song With No Meaning

Another quintessentially English pastoral song penned by Les, with some assistance from his girlfriend Christine and from Mel with the lyrics. Les played nearly all the guitars on the recording, with the exception of some twelve-string courtesy of Woolly.

Lyrics:
Passing time in the sun
To think of things, lost and done
You wonder why she left so soon
No word or reason why
All feelings born can only die

Lazy days passing by
With memories you just can't hide
The song flows on you can't pursue
Your words don't mean a thing
The mood's too hard for you to sing

Moving on with a sigh
A silhouette against the sky
The seconds they dripped right on by
And slowly filled the day
And feelings born can only fade away

[Les Holroyd, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


Blue John's Blues

Written perhaps more in sorrow than in anger, this song was John's comment on the music business and the position the band found themselves in at the time. "Joe Crow" was the abbreviation by which their ex-manager, John Crowther, was known.

Lyrics:
Mystery is following me down that lonesome road
And I don't know my way, my way back home
There's someone on my shoulder and he will not share a load
And I don't know my way, my way back home

There's a certain something deep inside
Like a rolling sea or a river wide
As the orchestra starts playing
Get down Joe

You can see his face, you can feel his smile
Yeah, look down low and let the tears run wild
When the orchestra starts playing
Blue John's Blues

Think about me, girl, and the things I ain't said
I could not be sad, thinkin' 'bout the things that you do
While the folks around me sing on
Blue John's Blues

Band is swinging, people singing
Get down Joe

There's a place down home where people meet
They clap their hands and they stamp their feet
When the music starts and the band plays
Get down Joe

They sing out loud and they sing out clear
Turn your head round girl and you might just hear
And if you do then start down singing
Blue John's Blues

Think about me, girl, and the things I ain't said
I could not be sad, thinkin' 'bout the things that you do
While the folks around me sing on
Blue John's Blues

Band is swinging, people singing
Get down Joe

Take hold of John's blues (?)
Must be a thousand hues (?)
Blue John's Blues
Get back Joe
Take back all of your dough
You've got no place to go
Blue John's Blues
Get back now Joe
My sweetest girl that I ever had
She's drive any poor man bad
Blue John's Blues

Well my Ma and my Papa said, Son
You'll get the KB when you're not on the run (?)
Blue John's Blues
Well my lady and me we're gonna dance all night
Yeah yeah we're gonna dance until the broad broad light
Blue John's Blues
The sweetest girl that I ever had
Was guaranteed to drive a poor man bad
Blue John's Blues
Blue John Blues
Get back Joe
Lord, get back Joe

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


The Poet

Woolly: "The song was written in 1967, and is really having a go at the self-importance of `the artist' - that kind of 'sit next to me and listen but don't touch or criticise' attitude. Toni and Martyn did the orchestral link between it and 'After The Day'".

Lyrics:
Here I sit watching the day out
No-one beside me who may doubt
All of the words that I could chose to say
So listen, believe, or be gone from this day
I need a friend to walk with me
And sit in the shade of an old tree
To think nothing much, just agree with my thoughts
To say nothing much, never tell what I ought

Watching the people pass by now
They just don't know why or know how
They don't seem to care about all that I've seen
They just walk on by never knowing I've been
Sitting up here where I'm wind blown
Only to ask and to be shown
Things that would make you believe what I say
I'll tell you myself and I'll show you some day

[Woolly Wolstenholme, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


After The Day

John's vision of armageddon literally closes the album with a bang! The references in the lyric to a stained-glass window ("one great wall of coloured parts") and "the multi-coloured cross left standing through it all" add to the apocalyptic feel of the song, which was a live favourite for many years, particularly in the days of the band's concerts with the orchestra.

Lyrics:
The eyes of night march slowly by
The last grain falls
The kneeling man just sighs
Protected by the one great wall
Of coloured parts
He probes his clouded mind

If he takes a look around him
Is there nothing left to see
Is there nothing left at all
After the day

With trembling hands he wipes his eyes
He tries to stand
But does not feel the need
The morning sun shines on
The multicoloured cross
Left standing through it all

If he takes a look around him
Is there nothing left to see
Is there nothing left at all
After the day

If he takes a look around him
Is there nothing left to see
Is there nothing left at all
After the day

[John Lees, © RAK Publishing Ltd]


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