BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST : OCTOBERON
Label : Polydor
Time : 44:57
Release Year : 1976
Review from AllMusic : With Wolstenholme's keyboards pushed back in the mix, and strangely missing the harmonies that enriched their earlier work, Octoberon is something of a departure for the band. While Wolstenholme's stately "Ra" shows a dabbling in mysticism and the soaring sound of their previous work, most of the album is a strangely glum affair. John Lees adopts a pub rock sound in his compositions, although "May Day" manages to veer unexpectedly into a glorious choral and organ arrangement. "Polk Street Rag," despite its name, is a slick rocker about a sordid X-rated movie house in San Francisco. There's a black humor throughout, as in this brutally funny line from "Suicide?": "Heard a voice shouting 'Don't jump, please for God's sake let me move my car.'" Not up to the level of their best work, but worth a listen for fans.
Review from ProgArchives : Barclay James Harvest reverted to their more powerful and indeed progressive style with this album, with side one (of the LP) consisting of just 3 longer tracks. "May day" includes a complex choral pastiche of various traditional British anthems, while "The world goes on" is more orthodox BJH, complete with full orchestration. Woolly Wolstenholme's "Ra" is a not unlike his "Beyond the grave" from "Time Honoured Ghosts" but builds from a quiet start to a thunderous ending. The second side of album includes the highly commercial "Rock'n'roll" star, although interestingly the single release of this track was taken from the "Live tapes" album. The live version is indeed superior, but the album track is nonetheless an excellent piece of up tempo pop rock. The final standout track is "Suicide", a chillingly real description of someone committing the act by jumping from a tall building. The track is complete with ironic observations such as the guy who wants to move his car out of the way, and the club charging a life subscription for the brief use of their premises. The music has a suitably maudlin sound, building menacingly to the final act. The track closes with the whole event played out in real time through sound effects. This must have seemed like a good idea at the time! All in all, an excellent album, diverse but coherent.