BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST : GONE TO EARTH
Label : Polydor
Released : 1977
Length : 68:32
Review (Wikipedia) : Gone To Earth is an album by the English rock group Barclay James Harvest released in 1977. It reached #30 in the UK charts, but in Germany it peaked at #10 and stayed for 197 weeks in the German album charts. It is on rank #6 of the longest running albums in the German album charts. Only the My Fair Lady soundtrack and albums by Simon & Garfunkel (Greatest Hits), The Beatles (1962-1966), Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here), and Andrea Berg (Best Of) spend more weeks in the charts. It was the band's largest selling album, eventually selling more than a million copies worldwide. Hymn (often misinterpreted as Christmas song but actually a song against the dangers of drug use and dedicated to musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Paul Kossoff and Janis Joplin) was a successful turntable hit at German radio stations in the late 1970s. Poor Man's Moody Blues was written after a journalist angered the band by referring to Barclay James Harvest as a poor man's Moody Blues. Shortly after, guitarist John Lees wrote a song that reminded him of the Moody Blues song Nights in White Satin, and decided to use the journalist's phrase as the song title. Other songs on the album deal with subjects like ended relationships (Friend of Mine), alienation (Leper's Song) the exploitation of animals for their fur (Spirit on the Water.), and the space race (Sea of Tranquility). The original LP version of this album, designed by Maldwyn Tootill, featured die-cut outer cover and full-color inner album sleeve. On one side of the inner sleeve was an owl (as shown in the picture); on the other side was a picture of a sunset. The inner sleeve could be reversed so that either side would be displayed through the die cut. The album's title, Gone To Earth, refers to the fox hunter's cry used to indicate that the quarry has returned to its lair.
Review (AllMusic) : Barclay James Harvest had streamlined their sound considerably after leaving the Harvest label, culminating (so many felt) in the mellifluous music of Gone to Earth. Their pretensions to progressive rock all but abandoned, BJH here invites comparison to contemporaries like Supertramp, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac (some of whom were similarly tagged with the prog rock label early on). Even at their most ornate, songwriters John Lees and Les Holroyd were simple balladeers at heart, and the decision to unclutter their arrangements allows the material's intrinsic beauty to shine through with clarity. For this reason, Gone to Earth is regarded by many as the band's best album, and judged on a song-by-song basis, it's hard to argue against it. Lees' "Hymn" and "Poor Man's Moody Blues" swell from simple beginnings to majestic heights, while Holroyd provides a cache of catchy rock songs, incorporating Beach Boys' harmonies on "Spirit of the Water" and "Taking Me Higher," soaring with the Eagles on "Friend of Mine," and even dabbling in reggae on the popular "Hard Hearted Woman." Again, the album's lone orchestral moment comes from Wolstenholme, the transcendent "Sea of Tranquility." (The keyboardist, whose once-omnipresent Mellotron now played a diminished role in the band's sound, left after the subsequent tour, releasing the first of several solo albums in 1980.) Although the songs are almost uniformly light on their feet, the lyrics reveal some heavy thoughts: Lees' "Lepers Song" laments "The end of the line's where I'm at/'Cos there's nothing left to be," and "Spirit of the Water" deals with killing seals for coats. Fortunately, it's not the uneasy alliance you might expect. Rarely has the band sounded so comfortable in the studio, and the result is as lovely a record as they've made.