Barclay James Harvest Discography
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Barclay James Harvest Discography
by Barclay James Harvest
20th June, 2009 -
the 40th Anniversary of the band's second single
"Can't remember a thing...
After the abortive "Pools of Blue" session at Chapells studio, we admitted defeat and signed to EMI records ( 'Early Morning' being leased to them ) and Norman Smith was given the unenviable job of steering us to greater glory. ( ...or any glory at all! )
Was it made at Abbey Road? I think so, but memory fails.
All I know is that P.W. was originally called " Being Satisfied" and that I played the lead guitar part on a Fender Electric 12.
As for "Brother Thrush", Mel played some kind of 'box' ( A matchbox perhaps- although the sound is bigger ) after The Beatles' 'bang anything" ethos, and all the muttering twixt verses 1 and 2 is probably me.
The rest, as they say, is mystery."
Immediately after the release of "Early Morning" as the band's debut single on EMI's Parlophone label, the band signed a one year contract with EMI for further recordings. The band had planned to follow up "Early Morning" with "Pools Of Blue" as their second single, but in spite of studio sessions at Chappells (twice) and Intercity Sound in the summer of 1968, neither the band nor Parlophone were happy with the results, and the idea was abandoned. By December 1968 EMI had decided that the burgeoning underground scene was worthy of its own record label, and so the new Harvest Records came into being in the spring of 1969. On April 25th BJH signed to the new label, and "Brother Thrush" and "Poor Wages" were recorded on 11th May, 1969 at Abbey Road. This session is notable for two firsts: Norman Smith was brought in to produce the band, and Robert Godfrey, who was now living with the band at Preston House, contributed organ and backing vocals to "Brother Thrush".
"Brother Thrush" was sung by Woolly but penned by John, and is the first BJH recording to explore a "green" theme, predicting the eventual triumph of nature over the works of man. Woolly's "Being Satisfied" had first been recorded at Intercity Sound (now renamed Strawberry Studios), but it was decided that a re-recording was required for the single. Both songs formed part of the band's live repertoire at the time; "Poor Wages" featured a blistering guitar solo which, sadly, wasn't included on the single recording, but was resurrected thirty-seven years later as part of the John Lees' Barclay James Harvest live set!
"Brother Thrush" became the third release on the Harvest label, but in spite of the fanfare surrounding the launch of EMI's new baby, BJH weren't even mentioned on the publicity for the launch of the Harvest label, and the single didn’t get anywhere. The delay of over a year in following up "Early Morning" probably didn't help, and the band's sound was already moving away from these poppier songs towards the more grandiose symphonic pieces which would make their reputation. Even at forty years' remove, though, "Brother Thrush" and "Poor Wages" demonstrate a fine grasp of melody and have a simple charm about them which makes them sound fresh today, and still much loved by fans old and new.
"Brother Thrush” press release from Harvest Records - click for larger picture