Thursday, 20 August 2015

#tbt Swimming with Barclay James Harvest

Ever heard of Barclay James Harvest? The rock group were formed in my hometown of Oldham in the seventies. They apparently didn't make many waves in the UK but they were HUGE in Europe.

My dad has just told me this anecdote:

Back in the 80's I used to go to swimmer improver classes every Tuesday at Saddleworth Pool with (BJH guitarist) John Lees and his wife Alwin. We were all reasonably good swimmers- we just wanted to get better. We used to go to the pub and to Indian restaurants.

Another couple went on holiday with them to Germany. In Oldham nobody knows them, but when they go to Europe they'd be in the hypermarket and the other shoppers would be nudging each other, nodding in their direction.”

The Wikipedia page for BJH's album Gone to Earth (1977) details an interesting rumour about the track, “Poor Man's Moody Blues”. 

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.”

What the page doesn't explain is that the critic had allegedly been working to a deadline and eventually admitted that he hadn't actually listened to the album. Can anyone confirm / deny?

Some years after the height of their fame, the group performed a coming-home concert in nearby town Holmfirth. My dad tells that the sound wasn't properly engineered. Allegedly, John was “thoroughly pissed off.”

In about 1992 Dad, being the legend he is, managed to get me the autographs of band members John Lees, Stuart “Wooly” Wolstenholme and Mel Pritchard. You can't see this from the scan but there's definite ink and pen indentation on the postcard. John is the only living member of the original group.

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