Barclay James Harvest are an English progressive rock band. They were founded in SaddleworthGreater Manchester, in September 1966 by John LeesLes HolroydStuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme (1947–2010), and Mel Pritchard (1948–2004).

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

After signing with EMI's Parlophone label in the UK for one single in early 1968, they moved to the more progressively inclined Harvest label. Their self-titled debut album was released in mid-1970 to positive reviews, but few sales. Their second album, Once Again, gained more favourable reviews, and the tour that followed was conducted with a full orchestra under the guidance ofRobert John Godfrey. Their third album Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories was an even greater achievement, though Martyn Ford was brought in to supervise the orchestral work after Robert John Godfrey departed over writing issues behind "Mockingbird" - one of the group's most consistently popular tracks. By the release of their fourth album, Baby James Harvest, in 1972, the pressures of touring were beginning to have an impact on the band, and the album's inconsistency was noticed by both fans and critics alike.

After this album, they departed from EMI, and signed to Polydor, the move immediately resulting in greater sales. The next album, Everyone Is Everybody Else (1974), is viewed by many as their artistic high point. This was shown by the album being played extensively on Radio Caroline,[2] and by its appearance in their Top 100 All Time Albums Chart.[3] It also led to the band being invited to a BBC Radio 1 session for John Peel.[4] The double live album, Barclay James Harvest Live, which followed in late 1974, built on their solid fanbase, and was the first to chart in the UK, reaching No. 40.[5] Time Honoured Ghosts (1975), recorded in the USA, followed and this also charted in the UK reaching No. 32.[5] Octoberon followed in 1976 and reached number 19 in the UK.[5] They finally broke into the mainstream European market with their 1977 set Gone to Earth, which contained the song "Poor Man's Moody Blues", a homage to that band's "Nights in White Satin", and also an appellation foisted upon Barclay James Harvest by press critics in the early 1970s.[citation needed]

Woolly Wolstenholme – whose mellotron playing was a trademark of the band's sound in the 1970s – left in 1979 after the album XII. He pursued a short solo career fronting Maestoso, before retiring from the music industry to pursue farming.

The remaining three members continued. At the height of their success, they played a free concert in front of the Reichstag in West Berlin, with an estimated attendance of 250,000 people (30 August 1980). They were also the first Western rock band to play an open-air concert in pre-Glasnost East Germany, playing in Treptower ParkEast Berlin on 14 July 1987 to a 170,000+ audience.

The band continued as a trio with regular guest musicians until 1998. One album, Welcome to the Show, released in 1990, was released under the abbreviated name BJH. However, because of criticism from fans, the full Barclay James Harvest name was restored, albeit with the inclusion of the BJH moniker.

In 1998, musical differences amongst members of BJH saw the band essentially split into two different groups, both of which retained "Barclay James Harvest" as part of their names. John Lees released an album mixing new songs and BJH classics, entitled Nexus, under the band name "Barclay James Harvest through the eyes of John Lees". Woolly Wolstenholme played in (and composed for) this band, subsequently resurrecting Maestoso to record and tour with new material, as well as back-catalogue favourites. Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard teamed up to record under the name "Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd". Lees and Wolstenholme recently (2006/7) toured under the slightly modified band title "John Lees' Barclay James Harvest".

Mel Pritchard died suddenly of a heart attack in early 2004. Woolly Wolstenholme took his own life in December 2010, having apparently struggled with depression for many years.[6]

The two derivatives of Barclay James Harvest continue to record and tour to this day, and enjoy ongoing popularity, particularly in Germany, France, and Switzerland.

John Lees' Barclay James Harvest (1998-present)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

This derivative of Barclay James Harvest features John Lees, bassist Craig Fletcher, drummer Kevin Whitehead, and keyboard player Jez Smith.[7] The band originally featured "Woolly" Stuart Wolstenholme on keyboards before his death in December 2010. The group formed in 1999 to record the album "Nexus". Craig Fletcher and Kevin Whitehead were from Wolly Wolstenholmes band "Maestoso" and John and Woolly were members of the original Barclay James Harvest. The band toured in the UK and Europe in 2006 and recorded the live album "Legacy" at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Since then the band has played at venues in the UK but more so in the rest of Europe where they achieve good success. The band toured again around the UK in 2009. They played at the Berlin Wall anniversary festival at the Brandenburg Gate, Bad Homburg in Germany with JLBJH's best attendance of 17500 people and more recently in PortoPortugal with an attendance of 5000. The band recently visited America and played in Philadelphia. John Lees' Barclay James Harvest is currently signed and managed by Esoteric Recordings. Mark Powell, founder of the label, works as the band manager. JLBJH are currently recording an album of all-new material at John's own Friamere Studios.[8]

The band also formerly featured Jeff Leach and Mike Bramwell as guest musicians.[9]

Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd (1998-present)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

This derivative of the band featured Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard after the schism in the original group. Pritchard remained with the group until his death in February 2004. The band currently consists of Les Holroyd, guitarist Michael Byron-Hehir, keyboard player/guitarists Colin Browne and Steve Butler, and drummer Louie Palmer.[10]

External works[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The band released a single "Breathless"/"When the City Sleeps" under the pseudonym of "Bombadil" in 1972. "Breathless", an instrumental, was credited to "Terry Bull" (actually John Lees). The B side "When the City Sleeps" was credited to "Lester Forest" (actually Woolly Wolstenholme), who also played every instrument and sang. This obscure track made an appearance on the soundtrack in the 2007 series Life on Mars, although it was not featured on the CD release. [11]

Members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Barclay James Harvest[edit source | editbeta]Edit

John Lees' Barclay James Harvest[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current members
  • John Lees - vocals, guitars (1998–present)
  • Craig Fletcher - bass (1998–present)
  • Kevin Whitehead - drums, percussion (1998–present)
  • Jez Smith - keyboards (2009–present)
Former members
  • Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme - vocals, mellotron, keyboards, guitars (1998–2010)
  • Jeff Leach - keyboards (1998–2006)
  • Mike Bramwell - keyboards (2006–2009)
Guest musicians
  • John Joseph Lees - cornet (2006, 2009)
  • Liz Fitzpatrick - trumpet (2009)

Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current members
  • Les Holroyd - bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals (1998–present)
  • Colin Browne - keyboards, guitars (1998–present)
  • Steve Butler - guitars, keyboards (1998–present)
  • Michael Byron-Hehir - lead guitars (1998–present)
  • Louie Palmer - drums, percussion (2011–present)
Former members
  • Mel Pritchard - drums, percussion (1998–2004)
  • Ian Wilson - guitars (1998–2009)
  • Chris Jago - drums, percussion (1998–2003, 2004–2005)
  • Roy Martin - drums, percussion (2003–2004, 2006–2007)
  • Paul Walsham - drums, percussion (2005–2006, 2007–2011)

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Studio albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Barclay James Harvest
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest
  • Nexus (1999)
  • North (2013)
Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd
  • Revolution Days (2002)

Live albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Barclay James Harvest
  • Live (1974)
  • Live Tapes (1978)
  • Berlin - A Concert for the People (1982)
  • Glasnost (1988)
  • BBC in Concert 1972 (2002)
  • After The Day The Radio Broadcasts 1974-1976 (2008)
John Lees' Barclay James Harvest
  • Revival Live 1999 - Through the Eyes of John Lees (2000)
  • Legacy (2007)
Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd

Compilation albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Barclay James Harvest
  • Early Morning Onwards (1972)
  • The Best of Barclay James Harvest (1977)
  • The Best of Barclay James Harvest, Volume 2 (1979)
  • Mockingbird/Best of (1980)
  • The Best of Barclay James Harvest, Volume 3 (1981)
  • The Compact Story of BJH (1985)
  • Another Arable Parable (1987)
  • Alone We Fly (1990)
  • The Harvest Years (1991)
  • The Best of Barclay James Harvest (1992)
  • Sorcerers and Keepers (1993)
  • Endless Dream (1996)
  • The Best of Barclay James Harvest (1997)
  • Mocking Bird (1997)
  • Master Series (1999)
  • The Collection (2000)
  • Mockingbird (2001)
  • Mocking Bird - The Best of Barclay James Harvest (2001)
  • All Is Safely Gathered In (2005)
  • Sea of Tranquility: The Polydor Years 1974-1997 (2009)
  • Taking Some Time On: The Parlophone-Harvest Years (1968-73) (2011)
Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd
  • Evolution Years - The Best of Barclay James Harvest featuring the songs of Les Holroyd (2003)
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