Barclay James Harvest Archive
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Archive: FOBJH Newsletters
No. 6, July 1978
FRIENDS OF BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST
NEWSLETTER No. 6 JULY 1978
Time, once again, to let you know what’s been happening over the last three months, and, perhaps more importantly, what will be happening in the near future.
Before I go on, let me say thank you for all your letters and ideas. I apologise if my letters have not always been as long and chatty as yours, but I have such a lot of people to write to, and so many things to arrange, that I can’t always spend as much time as I would like to, on each missive. Anyway, let’s hope that I’ve succeeded in answering all your questions. Do carry on writing, as I enjoy hearing from you, and, as you know, am always ready to help you with any queries you may have. (Remember the S.A.E. please!)
No more Rock ‘n’ RohI
I’m sure you will be wondering how that new studio album, which I briefly mentioned in the last newsletter, is coming along. When I first spoke of it, I had no idea that it would bring so many changes, but it has, in many ways, been the site for a small revolution!
After the band had been at Strawberry Studios recording for about one month, Davie RohI, co-producer of the very successful, "Gone To Earth", resigned from the project. Although still an employee of the Studio, he will no longer be working for Barclay James Harvest.
The news did not come as very much of a surprise to anyone concerned, as there had been a lot of friction between Davie and the band from the moment the promotion campaign for "The Eye Of Wendor" began in earnest. (See Newsletter No. 5.) The band began to feel that he was devoting too much time and energy to his own affairs, at the expense of his role as engineer/co-producer with themselves. As the interrupting ‘phone calls from Davie’s record company, Chrysalis, became more frequent, tempers rose, and the resignation finally came when these differences were aired.
For his part, Davie does not feel that it was unreasonable to want to get the best promotion possible for his own album, but the band feel that he should not have used their time to do it, and that a distinct line should have been drawn between his two roles.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument, which was rather more complex than outlined here, it did leave B.J.H. in a difficult position. Here they were, one month into a new album, with no co-producer, and no fully trained engineer. For a couple of days, Peter Tattersall, the studio manager, stepped in to help, but there was no doubt that the rapport that had existed between Davie and the lads during the recording of "Gone To Earth", was sadly missed.
By the end of their scheduled week’s break, which had been punctuated by impromptu meetings, some solution seemed to have been reached. Martin Lawrence, best known for his work on Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s mammoth project, "Consequences", was available to finish the album, and both parties were willing to give the new partnership a try.
So far, the arrangement is working very well, with an interchange of ideas flowing easily between Martin and the group, and vice versa. With the album due for completion at the end of July, and work forging ahead with renewed interest and vigour, it looks as though the partnership may not end with this period in the studio. The band will certainly consider the merits of extending it to the next album, along with the other factors involved.
On this new album, the band have tried a new way of working, which seems to have been very successful. Rather than sticking to their normal routine of putting down backing tracks for all the songs first, and then doing all the overdubs, they are now taking each song individually, working on it to a fairly advanced stage of completion, and then leaving it in favour of another backing track. The finishing touches will be added later. This method seems to be promoting more interaction between the band members, and a constant flow of ideas is forever on tap, as a result.
An even more revolutionary step, is the band’s decision to sometimes settle for a less than technically perfect sound, in favour of a more "live" atmosphere. This has led to them recording some backing tracks in the "live area" of the studio, and despite the spillover of the different instruments on to other tape tracks, which causes a less clean sound, the overall effect is one of increased energy and rhythm. Of course, this approach is not suitable for all types of song, but it does add life to the "heavier" numbers.
It is hoped to fit as many as nine or ten tracks on the album, with the concentration being on shorter pieces, rather than fewer, longer songs. At this stage, we cannot be sure of the exact number of tracks, though, as some are turning out to be somewhat longer than the original demos. Anyway, however many there are, you can be sure that they will be very varied in feel and tempo. Even at this early stage in its development, the LP looks like being a real winner.
So, all in all, I can safely say that the early troubles have done nothing to harm the record, rather to the contrary, and I would venture that we can expect a great deal from this album, without any fear of disappointment. (Expected release date - September.)
Autumn Tour 1978
From the letters I have been receiving over the past few months, I can tell that you are eagerly awaiting the band’s next tour. Until now, I have been unable to give out a full list of dates, but I am now happy to be able to tell you that the dates and venues are as follows:—
|September 27th||PRESTON, Guildhall|
|September 28th||LIVERPOOL, Empire Theatre|
|September 29th||SHEFFIELD, City Hall|
|September 30th||NEWCASTLE, City Hall|
|October 1st||EDINBURGH, Usher Hall|
|October 2nd||ABERDEEN, Capitol|
|October 4th||DERBY, Assembly Rooms|
|October 5th||BIRMINGHAM, Odeon|
|October 6th and 7th||HAMMERSMITH, Odeon|
|October 9th||PORTSMOUTH, Guildhall|
|October 10th||BRISTOL, Colston Hall|
|October 11th||OXFORD, New Theatre|
|October 13th and 14th||MANCHESTER, Apollo Theatre|
|October 15th||LEICESTER, De Montford Hall|
|October 16th||IPSWICH, Gaumont|
|October 17th||BRIGHTON, Dome Theatre|
The following European gigs have been arranged and confirmed, but at this early stage, there are still more venues to be booked. These will be reported in the October newsletter.
|October 21st||DORTMUND, Westfalenhalle|
|October 22nd||DUSSELDORF, Philipshalle|
|October 23rd||HAMBURG Congresscentrum|
|October 24th||COLOGNE, Sportshalle|
|October 27th||STUTTGART/DOBLINGEN, Sportshalle|
|October 28th||NURNBERG, Hemmerleinhalle|
|October 29th||MUNICH, Circus Krone|
|October 30th||LUDWIGSHAFEN, Eberthalle|
|November 2nd||HANOVER R, Niedersachsenhalle|
|November 3rd||BERLIN, Eissporthalle|
|November 5th||ZURICH, Winterthur|
As the release of the tour dates always seems to bring forth a number of questions, I will try to anticipate these, and answer them before you ask:
WILL I BE ABLE TO MEET THE BAND?
There can never be a definite answer to this question, as circumstances are different at every gig, but I will say this: The band have always been unusual in their exceptionally high regard for their supporters, and unlike many, they do not completely shut themselves off from the public as soon as they walk off stage. At most times they are happy to see anyone in the dressing room, when they’ve changed, and after most gigs, they see quite a number of people in small groups, signing autographs, and answering questions. However security varies from gig to gig, and, obviously, there must be some restriction on the numbers allowed back stage, so if you do decide to wait behind to see the lads, please be patient.
Here is one thing that I should mention, and that is despite what I have said above, there must be times when the band say "no visitors". For example, they sometimes have to entertain management or record company officials, and this keeps them busy enough! Or, if there has been some technical problem during the show, they may need to discuss this urgently. Let me say that these occurrences are very rare, and I have hardly ever attended a gig when they didn’t meet a good number of their fans.
CAN YOU GET ME A BACK STAGE PASS?
The answer is a straight "no". These passes are reserved for crew, managers, personal friends or relatives of the band, and the band themselves. The main reason for this is that they allow access back stage at any time, and the lads couldn’t possibly be expected to give a good performance if they were not left in private to prepare in their own way. After the gig is the time set aside for their supporters.
CAN YOU GET TICKETS FOR ME?
Again, the answer is "no". I have no special access to tickets, and very often don’t get one at all, and end up standing! Even Kennedy Street Enterprises, the management, are not directly concerned with the allocation of tickets. This is a matter for ticket agencies and the halls themselves. Sorry.
As usual, I will be get along to as many of the gigs as I can. Definites at the moment are both Hammersmith shows, both Manchester performances, and Brighton, although I can’t be certain where else I may turn up. If you want to see me to ask questions, let me know your ticket numbers when you receive them, and I will come and find you, if I’m around.
I hope that I will have the pleasure of meeting some more members this year, as it’s always nice to get to know you better.
"Live Tapes" at last
"Live Tapes", the new live double album was finally released in June. I must apologise to those of you who made frequent and fruitless trips to the record shop to buy it during April and May. Although it was originally scheduled for release in April, as stated in the last newsletter, it was delayed by a difficulty with the printing of the sleeve. Rather than let it go out with a badly printed sleeve (which was largely designed by the band themselves, incidentally), the lads stopped the album on several occasions, and ordered the cover to be reprinted.
The "Live Tapes" posters suffered from the same delay, but I trust that you have now received any that you ordered.
More News of B.J.H. Film
The documentary film, first referred to in the January newsletter, seems to be suffering some set-backs in this country. As you know, it was to have been shown in cinemas around the country, as a support for a major film. Since then, it has been suggested that it be paired with such films, as David Soul’s latest epic(l), and since it is considered doubtful that the audiences of both films would overlap in their tastes, it has been decided to give the big screen a miss, until a more suitable "feature" comes along.
In the meantime, though, the documentary has been enjoying some success abroad. It has already been shown in Belgium, and has been shown on local T.V. in Germany. It is now planned to put it out on national T.V. in Germany within the next two months.
On the brighter side, for fans in the U.K. it is probable that Yorkshire T.V. will be buying the film, and it will be put out through the A.T.V. distribution network in about September.
I will keep listening for more news and hope I will have more to report in October.
Prizewinner’s Visit to Strawberry Studios
Knowing that many of you would be interested in a more personal account of what life at the studio is like, Roland Mansell, and his girlfriend Tracey, who accompanied him on his visit to Strawberry Studios, have composed this account of their day. You will remember that Roland won this expenses-paid visit in the club competition.
Wednesday, 10th May 1978
Our visit to Strawberry Studios began at 5.30 a.m., when we arose to prepare for our journey. After a slight delay, we finally left Camberley at 6.50 a.m., and arrived at Stockport at 12.30 p.m. Feeling rather parched, we decided to try and find a pub to have a cool, long pint of lager and some grub! Our thirst quenched, and our stomachs full, we made our way back to the station, where we were to meet Jill and Woolly at 1.30 p.m. As usual, I (Tracey), was left to mind the bags and albums whilst Roland went to find the Gents! While he was gone, Jill and Woolly arrived, and I had to explain away his long absence.
I was easily recognised by Jill and Woolly, because we had told them we would be wearing our B.J.H. sweatshirts. Roland arrived, introduced himself, and then we made our way to the studios to meet the rest of the band. When we arrived, parched as usual, (it was so hot that day!), we were shown to the basement "hospitality suite", which was very comfortably furnished. The room contained a kitchen, a sitting area, pool table, dart board, television, and a stereo system which can be connected to the studio upstairs.
After having a cup of tea, we went upstairs to the control room to meet the rest of the band and "the fifth man", Ian Southerington, along with Dave, the co-producer, and Chris, his assistant. Woolly introduced them to us as, "You know everyone here". I (Roland) knew everyone, but Tracey took some time to work out who was who, as they look different from their photographs.
After listening to part of an unfinished track, Mel went into the studio to overdub some percussion. Some of the sounds produced sounded remarkably like a bullfrog, a cat, and a crocodile yawning, as Dave put them through various effects units, and then he achieved the required sound. The track they were working on that day was one of John’s.
Jill and Woolly showed us round the recording studio itself, which contained various sound traps for different instruments. There was a vocals booth, which is used when overdubbing the vocals on to tracks, to avoid a hollow sound. Scattered around the floor were the band’s instruments and there was also a grand piano, provided by the Studio.
From the studio, we went into a room full of store cupboards, one belonging to B.J.H. Inside the cupboard was two year’s recording tape, a lot of which has not been heard as it is considered unsuitable for our ears. The tape used in the control room is two inches wide, with twenty-four tracks, and costs about £35 per reel.
Our tour ended back in the control room, which consisted of a control desk which had hundreds of dials, switches, lights and knobs. You name it, it was on there! On either side of the couch at the back of the room was more technical equipment. One side held the special effects equipment, such as a phaser, a graphic equaliser, a harmoniser etc. On the other side were the track controls and Dolby noise reduction units, with twenty-four different panels. Whilst we were listening to the music, we counted six speakers, which produced a very high volume. The bass was so loud that it made our stomachs vibrate!
Feeling parched yet again, we went downstairs for another cup of tea. Woolly and I played a game of "pooker", which is a cross between pool and snooker that the band have invented. Not being used to this game, and also out of practice, Woolly beat me three games to nil. Tracey was talking to Jill about the club at this time. It seemed to be time for a general break, as Les and Mel came downstairs to play backgammon at lOp a shot, and Dave challenged Woolly to a game of "pooker". We were able to talk to Les and Mel a little more now, as we could hear what we were saying to each other. However, the break did not last very long as John brought it to an abrupt halt by shouting, "You are wanted upstairs for a serious discussion". This is a difficult part of recording an album because so much thinking and so many new ideas are needed. Meanwhile, we played pool with Jill, and after about half an hour, we were invited back upstairs to listen to John playing the guitar.
From this, we had a taste of the hard work involved in recording an album and do not envy them at all. John was recording a guitar solo on to the track, and played it many times before it satisfied him. The rest of the band were strewn around the floor, listening in and offering ideas, Mel asking for a screwdriver to tighten up some loose screws under the control desk, which he could see as he was lying underneath it! The band are full of humour and all for a good laugh. We felt that, as the band work together for so many hours under pressure, humour plays a big part in their day.
It was soon 6 p.m. and our day with the band was passing quickly. Everybody was hungry, so we decided to pop into the Chinese Take-Away around the corner. After buying our meal, we ate with the band in the "hospitality suite". This was the first time we’d had a chance to sit down and talk together. Woolly, Les, Mel and John autographed Roland’s full collection of albums and singles (not for sale). This chore complete, John turned on the television to watch "Coronation Street" (never missed at the studio — Jill), but his attention was distracted by Roger, who attempted to eat a whole cauliflower (and succeeded after you left — Jill). The humour began again with Les and Mel picking holes in "Coronation Street". By the time the programme had ended, it was time to leave. We said goodbye to Mel, John, Les, "the fifth man", Dave and Roger. Roger, incidentally, makes the tea for everyone, and is responsible for keeping the place clean and tidy. Unfortunately, our day together was over. We wished the band good luck with the album, and walked to the station with Jill and Woolly.
On the way there, Woolly explained to us how the band completed the last section of "Suicide?", and if you knew, you’d laugh. After nearly getting on to the mail train by mistake, we were waved off by Jill and Woolly at the station, and we ended our day with the journey back to Camberley.
After seeing and listening to the band in the studio, we will appreciate the music of Barclay James Harvest much more.
Many thanks again to Jill and Barclay James Harvest for an immensely enjoyable day.
Roland and Tracey.
From our point of view, of course, the day didn’t end there. When Woolly and I arrived back at the Studio after seeing our guests off, it was straight back to more recording, backgammon and pool I! We got home at about 1 a.m.
Solution to Crossword in last issue
"Frantic" Selling Practices!
I have been asked by Anne Rowan, Member No. 456 from East Kilbride, to pass on the following warning to you. She says; "Recently while reading a record catalogue, I noticed that they were selling ‘Early Morning Onwards’ for about £2.20. I sent for this only to find that it was in fact ‘The Best of Barclay James Harvest’ and not ‘Early Morning Onwards’. This company is called ‘Frantic Mail Order’."
I’m sure that "Frantic Mail Order" didn’t deliberately set out to deceive — perhaps the catalogue was old stock, or something — but it does show that it pays to be careful, and double check any offers you see for this particular deleted record.
Anne also has some better news, as she thinks that "Precinct Tapes" of 11 Bath Street, Glasgow 2, may have a few copies of the cassette version of "Early Morning Onwards". There were some in stock when she bought hers some time ago, and she thinks it may be worth a try, if you live locally, to see if there are any left.
Thank you, Anne, for both pieces of information.
Deleted Singles Offer
The collectors among you will be pleased to note that I have managed to obtain a few of the band’s deleted singles, and am now offering them for sale to club members. Let me stress that this is an unusual occurrence, and that under normal circumstances I cannot help in tracing deleted records (see Newsletter No. 3).
I am offering these singles on a first come, first served basis, so if you are interested in one or more of them, send me a post card with your name, address, membership number, and details of the records you would like to reserve. SEND NO MONEY UNLESS I CONTACT YOU to say that you have been successful.
As I expect quite a lot of replies to this offer, I’m afraid that I will not contact you, unless you have been successful in reserving one of the singles, so if you hear nothing, it is because I have already received a reservation.
Anyway, the following singles are on offer:
1. An American version of "Medicine Man/Thank you". £1.65.
2. Three U.K. copies of "I’m Over You/Child of Man". £2.35 each.
3. One German copy of the above. £3.35.
4. One Dutch copy of "Titles/In My Life" with picture sleeve. £2.35.
5. One "Negative Earth" flexi-disc (as issued on 1974 tour). £0.75.
6. One Dutch version "Friend of Mine/Our Kid’s Kid" with picture sleeve. £2.00.
All prices include an allowance for post and packing.
I managed to obtain these singles through a specialist shop in Liverpool and bought them solely to make them available to you, before they were snatched up. However, the staff tell me that they often have quite a few B.J.H. deletions in stock, and so it may be a good idea for you to write off for a regular price list. Write to: Zephyr, P.O. Box 6, Wallasey, Merseyside, L45 4SJ. Please enclose a large S.A.E. with your letter.
On 1st August, there will be a draw for the following prizes:—
1. A copy of the band’s first single, "Early Morning/Mr. Sunshine" (1968). Not so much a record — more a gold mine!
2. An autographed copy of the next studio album.
3. Credit for £5 worth of spending from the club price list.
4. Ex-B.J.H. autographed tambourine.
5. "Gone to Earth" and large Strawberry Studios window stickers.
All members of the club, at the above date, will be automatically entered for the draw, so everyone has an equal chance of winning. Winners will be notified immediately after the draw has taken place.
Song Lyrics No. 3: Our Kid’s Kid
They told me this morning that you won the race
For granny and grandad the kid took first place
They said you got a lady well that’s just right
You’re calling her Ruthy well that’s outasight
Bargap Road and Oldham Edge her days
Remember to show her all the things that see you through
Pearls of wisdom from Frederick the Great
They tell me she’s pretty well that’s no surprise
Just give her a guitar and start her off right
They say she’s a longhair I hope Frank don’t mind
And Peter’s got a sweat on ‘till she’s sealed and signed
Sticker Offer for "Big Spenders"
I have been given a small pile of Strawberry Studios stickers to distribute amongst you, so, while stocks last, anyone sending in an order of £3.00 or over, will receive a free sticker.
"Gone to Earth" Badges
Another discovery! While cleaning out the rehearsal room, Ian (Southerington) came across a small box of "Gone to Earth" badges, which had hitherto been forgotten. These have now been made available to me, and you will find further details on the Price List at the end of this newsletter.
ALSO LOOK OUT FOR NEW POSTER ON PRICE LIST. THIS IS EXCLUSIVE TO CLUB MEMBERS.
Well, that’s all for now. Goodbye until next time.