Barclay James Harvest

Barclay James Harvest are an English progressive rock band. They were founded in Oldham, in September 1966 by guitarist/vocalist John Lees (b. 1947), bassist/vocalist Les Holroyd (b. 1948), keyboardist/vocalist Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme (1947–2010), and drummer/percussionist Mel Pritchard (1948–2004). 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. The name for the band, according to The International Barclay James Harvest Fan Club, signifies nothing specifically. Having exhausted other possibilities, each of the band members wrote single words on pieces of paper which were drawn out of a hat one by one. All were rejected until only three were left: James, a guy who used to sing with the band, Harvest because they were living in a farmhouse, and Barclay after the bank, because they aspired to make money. These were then rearranged to get the best-sounding name - "Barclay James Harvest".

Links to Peel

During a 50th anniversary concert encore in 2018, the band played an audio from 14th April 1968. It featured Peel introducing Barclay James Harvest's first single," Early Morning". Peel says:

"This is their first record, and it won't be their last. They're going on to do great things"[1]

In an interview with Eon Music in 2016, John Lees mentioned one of his highlights was listening to the band's debut single on Peel's show:

"The highlight was hearing our single the first time on radio, and it was played by John Peel. I remember thinking that it was absolutely fantastic, that." [2]

In the ABC Of Beauty in the Disc & Music Echo, published in November 1968, Peel commented that Barclay James Harvest's "Early Morning" "was and still is very beautiful. A follow-up is long overdue". In fact, their first two sessions for Peel were recorded before they released their debut album in mid-1970, apparently because their record company of the time (Parlophone) hadn't been impressed by the material they had recorded for him. They eventually did five sessions for Top Gear, although their records got more airplay from other Sounds of the Seventies DJs like Bob Harris then Peel himself. Their most popular track "Mockingbird" never appearied in a JP playlist. Alan Freeman also appreciated their blend of rock group and orchestra, and played tracks by them on his shows long after Peel had lost interest.

In an interview with Stewart "Wooley" Wolstenholme, in Record Mirror, published on 29th August 1970, he mentioned Peel liking the band's single but not being so keen on their LP:

"John Peel heard our record "Early Morning" and liked it, so he played it. However, he heard our LP and wasn't bothered with it, although the reviews were good" [3]

In 1975 Peel nominated their album, Everyone Is Everybody Else, as one of his 1974 Top Ten Albums in Sounds music magazine, but by the end of the 70's, with the emergence of punk, he began to ignore many of the artists of the prog rock genre he had previously supported, BJH among them. Indeed in 1975 they had done a concert tour of the UK with the band Cafe Society, which included Tom Robinson, as support act, which led Robinson to describe BJH in a 1977 Melody Maker interview as "fascists in cardigans". Yet Barclay James Harvest continued into the 1980s and beyond. Their following lasted into the twenty-first century, enabling them to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary in 2018, and to recall Peel while doing so.


Small Time Town -BBC Radio Top Gear Session - 30th July 1968-

Small Time Town -BBC Radio Top Gear Session - 30th July 1968-

1. Recorded: 1968-04-23. Broadcast: 05 May 1968. Repeated: 02 June 1968

  • Mr. Sunshine / Early Morning / So Tomorrow / I Can't Go On Without You / Eden Unobtainable

2. Recorded: 1968-07-30. Broadcast: 04 August 1968. Repeated: 08 September 1968

  • Small Time Town / Night / Need You So Bad / Pools Of Blue

3. Recorded: 1971-12-20. Broadcast: 14 January 1972

  • Blue John's Blues / The Poet / After The Day

4. Recorded: 1972-02-01. Broadcast: 08 February 1972. Repeated: 25 February 1972, 18 April 1972

  • After The Day / The Poet / Medicine Man

5. Recorded: 1974-08-01. Broadcast: 08 August 1974. Repeated: 12 September 1974

  • Crazy City / Mining Disaster / For No One / Paper Wings


Recorded at the Paris Theatre: 1971-02-21. Broadcast: 21 February 1971

  1. She Said
  2. Mockingbird
  3. Dark Now My Sky

Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon: 1976-10-19. Broadcast: 14 December 1976. Repeated: 14 March 1977

  1. Crazy City
  2. Polk Street Rag
  3. Hymn For The Children
  4. For No One
  5. Mockingbird
  6. Rock 'N' Roll Star

Other Shows Played

Early Morning -A-Side Single 1968-

Early Morning -A-Side Single 1968-

  • 14 April 1968: Early Morning (7" - Early Morning / Mr. Sunshine) Parlophone
  • 12 May 1968: Early Morning (7" - Early Morning / Mr. Sunshine) Parlophone
  • 30 July 1969: Brother Thrush (7" - Brother Thrush / Poor Wages) Harvest
  • 27 August 1974: Paper Wings (LP - Everyone Is Everybody Else) Polydor

See Also

External Links

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