Once Again

Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

The advertisers are bombarding us with Christmas offers. That’s allowed in this house now that bonfire night has come and gone. But, this year, I have a secret weapon to counter the assault. You see, I installed an ad-blocker in my Web browser recently, and it’s doing a fantastic job. I can, once again, see the wood for the trees on the websites I visit. And the urge to close those annoying pop-up windows has all but vanished. (Thank you, Firefox, for the Ghostery extension.)

Of course, that hasn’t reduced the flow of emails about re-issues, remasterings and remixes. They do still need to be filtered, but an outright ban would be inappropriate. So there is no objection, here, to Burning Shed‘s announcement of a remastered box set edition of Barclay James Harvest‘s second album, Once Again, which is due for release on 27th January 2023.

This album seems fitting for other reasons, too. Track 2, Happy Old World, is an environmental protest song, which chimes with the COP27 summit taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh. And Song for Dying is a lament for the loss of innocent lives in war, which resonates with the WW1 Armistice Day commemorations taking place this weekend. Neither topic is cheerful. Indeed, to the Crotchety ear, much of the album reflects the tone of David Gerrold’s philosophical take on human existence:

Life is hard. And then you die.

David Gerrold

But there are brighter moments, too. Galadriel shines with the unquenchable beauty of Lothlorien. Mocking Bird overflows with the joy of a new-found love. And Lady Loves is the personification of paradise.

There are some delightful moments on the Once Again album but, somehow, it doesn’t reach the upper echelons of the Official Crotchety Charts. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Perhaps the darker songs are too painful a reminder of the woeful and worsening state of world affairs some 50+ years after BJH recorded them. Or, perhaps there’s a je ne sais quoi missing from the compositions. Once Again is, nevertheless, a fine example of early soft prog. Fans of the Strawbs or the Moody Blues will feel right at home here.

The battlements around Crotchety’s Worthy Fortress have been breached and repaired many times. Perhaps Barclay James Harvest were accidentally left outside when we last sealed a gap in the defences. And, perhaps, the right line for the wall will be revealed if we spin that record once again.

One thought on “Once Again

  1. I’m with you, I’m afraid Phil. Never could take to BJH; just too bland. Much prefer the Moody Blues who, for all their romantic leanings, had a vision and knew how to rock out occasionally. In fact I once heard BJH described as ‘a poor man’s Moody Blues’ which is quite amusing. So no temptations in Vinyl Connection land for (yet another) box set, at least for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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