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Archive: FOBJH Newsletters
No. 4, January 1978
"FRIENDS OF BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST"
Nearly one year old!
Firstly, let me say "thank you" to everyone who sent Christmas and New Year greetings to the band and myself. It’s always nice to be remembered!
Things continue to improve, especially after the 1977 Tour, when our numbers swelled over 400. Those of you who were members from early on will (I hope) have noticed some sort of organisation creeping in, though if you saw my "office", you may have serious doubts about it’s ability to survive! You will have noticed a gradual improvement in newsletter quality and content, and I think that, with your help, things will go on getting better.
The tee-shirt situation widens and improves, and there are now two more photographs, and another (far superior) review sheet.
We also have a "super competition" in this issue, and I hope that you’ll all "have a go".
Before I go on with the newsletter itself, I’d like to make a general apology to everyone who experienced annoying delays in replying after the Tour. This was due to the fact that I was absolutely swamped with letters, some containing membership forms, and others replying to the newsletter. It took me a couple of months to get back to normal after the rush.
Live Album still on the Boil!
Unfortunately, the final touches could not be put to the new live album in time for a Christmas release. This was despite the fact that the lads worked on it throughout their promised "Holiday" after the European Tour. However, now that the mixing is completed to their satisfaction, it looks as though this long awaited disc will be out shortly. Do bear in mind that there is still some work to be done, though eg: cutting, sleeve design, test pressings to be vetted and all this before the record can go into full production.
In view of the fact that the old "Live" album will remain in circulation, it has been decided to change the track listing to include the newer material played on the "Gone To Earth" Tour.
The new tracks were recorded live in Europe. The album now plays as follows:Side One
Child of the Universe
Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
Poor Man’s Moody Blues
Hard Hearted Woman
Taking Me Higher
Polk Street Rag
A Letter from the Band
If you can imagine living in a void; a vacuum; a self-contained travelling show, catching only glimpses of airports, hotels, gigs and brief encounters with foreign landscapes and their people, where days and dates are controlled by whatever currency and language you are using and even which airline you are on, then you have some idea of what a European Tour is all about.
Once you have achieved some sort of equilibrium, you can eventually begin to take note of performances, crowd reaction, and all the many nuances that make this European Tour a success. Naturally, we always tend to catergorise our European audiences into neat compartments, usually comparing them to their British counterparts, but even we came unstuck!
From the first gig, which was in Amsterdam, it became apparent that we had underestimated our popularity, and we found time and time again that we had unfortunately to turn people away, because the theatres were full to capacity. It had been some time since our last tour of Europe, and we naturally assumed we would have to start at "square one". But we were pleasantly surprised, especially by the reaction in Germany and Switzerland.
Another yardstick to success is the increase (or decrease!) of album sales. Before playing Zurich, our sales of "Gone To Earth" were circa 4,000 copies (a Big album is 12,000!), and following the One date, we had sold 7,000 copies and were No.9 in the Swiss charts! Add to this our being No 29 in the German charts, and you have a more plausible thermometer of how successful the Tour was. Jolly good eh?
Finally, we would like to extend our thanks and felicitations to all "Friends of Barclay James Harvest" for making 1977 an exceptional year for us. Consolidate in 1978!!
Woolly, Les, Mel, and John.
From now on, I plan to print the lyrics of one song in every newsletter, so that you can gradually build a collection of those words which are not printed on the album sleeves. From time to time, I do receive requests for lyrics, and one song that seems to cause problems, perhaps because of its "local content", is "Mill Boys". Well, it’s as good a place to start as any!
Mill BoysSky was black, Lord
Rain came pouring down
No 12 bus shuffling down Shaw Road Way
Mules keep spinning,
Black-faced lifers peck the ground
Sun comes up like lightning over Tandle Hills grey.
Stuck on the hill, boys, Stuck in the mill, boys, ‘Til our dying day.
She’ll take you to your grave
Tell you boy to use your head,
Apprentice out your days
You’ll end up a nothing boy
With cotton as your trade.
Sun comes up like lightning over Tandle Hills grey.
NB: John actually sings "Tangle ‘ills" which is the local pronunciation!
Welcome to the first F.O.B.J.H. competition, featuring super, star prizes. . . etc etc (and other competition-type phrases!).
1st: An expenses-paid visit to the band in the recording studio. The details will be arranged individually with the winner.
2nd: An autographed copy of the new live album.
3rd: Pair of Mel’s drumsticks (used and autographed by the band).
4th: One 1977 World Tour "Artiste" sweat shirt, ex-Woolly (slightly used!!).
5th & 6th: "Surprise packages"! A notch-potch of B.J.H. odds and sods!
How to Enter
Quite simply, answer the following questions, which have been selected so that anyone who has a healthy (or unhealthy) knowledge of the bands albums will be able to enter. Then suggest a title for the next studio album. Send your answers and title with a cheque, postal order, or money order for £0.25p, to me at the usual address:— Jill, Kennedy House, 2 Swinbourne Grove, Withington, Manchester, M20 9PP, England. Closing date: 1st March 1978.
1. One Barclay James Harvest album was available in S.Q Quadrophonic. Name this album.
2. In his song "Sea of Tranquility", Woolly quotes from two of his previous compositions. Which songs do the quotations come from?
3. One of Barclay James Harvest’s albums has been available in two quite different sleeves. Which is it?
4. Excluding themselves, how many producers or co-producers have the band used over the years?
5. Suggest a suitable title for the next Barclay James Harvest studio album.
Finally, I’d better let you know (as far as ever is possible) what the band will be doing over the next few months.
Towards the end of the year it was thought that the New Year would bring a tour of America and Canada and perhaps even a return to Europe. However, this could not be arranged to the satisfaction of all parties, and any touring will be postponed until late Spring or Summer.
At present, new material is being written and prepared for the next studio album. All over Saddleworth, tape recorders whirr, and strange electronic noises (and much cursing) emit from certain houses. Books are thumbed for inspiration, heads are scratched, and coffee is left to go cold as inspiration at last strikes! This could go on for months!
At last the new songs which have emerged will be played before a full meeting of the band, and it will be decided which are good enough to reach your ears, and which need further consideration before being fit for such a fate.
Then comes weeks of learning the new melodies and lyrics, and the discussions about how exactly they should sound. This may well lead to the habitual "search for the missing sound", when synthesizers are twiddled until they overheat, and every possible percussion instrument will be in turn tested, and then discarded with phrases like "not spikey enough" or "too whirly at it’s requiem.
Next, the studio work will begin in earnest; late nights, too early mornings; each day a stream of cups of tea, Chinese meals, too many cigarettes, and not enough sleep. What will emerge from all this will bear no hint or trace of its traumatic birth, the serene music of another great Barclay James Harvest album.