Barclay James Harvest Memorabilia
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Barclay James Harvest Memorabilia
An Illustrated History of BJH Souvenir Concert Programmes
THE ATMOSPHERE experienced at a live rock concert is unique, and many fans want to take home with them not just their memories, but also a tangible souvenir of the show. Merchandisers are happy to oblige them in the form of T-shirts, posters and those perennial favourites, tour programmes.
The word programme in this context is something of a misnomer, as these glossy brochures rarely contain much information about the show itself - frequently they don’t contain much information of any kind! Fortunately, however, fans of more cerebral bands such as BJH are more demanding, and most of their tour programmes have had more to offer. It’s also possible to defend their relatively high price on the grounds that many of them have become collectors’ items and increased their value over the years.
That is certainly true of the first real Barclay James Harvest programme, sold at the four orchestral concerts which they performed in June and July 1970, and now worth a small fortune on the collectors’ market. The cover pre-empts the Once Again sleeve, being based on an enlarged section of the Barclay James Harvest LP sleeve with their trademark butterfly. The programme has only eight pages, and the pictures are all taken from the debut album artwork, but it contains some fascinating trivia such as the set list and the information that
Woolly “is reputed to like strong men (or was that mints?)”!
1973’s “official programme” would have set you back the princely sum of 20p! It is actually just a poster, folded in four, with the orange lettering from Early Morning Onwards and band photos on one side, and the tour dates and a brief biography on the other. Interestingly, it also carries a plug for John’s A Major Fancy, “out June 1st”, proving that the plug was only pulled on the release of that album at the last possible moment...
There doesn’t seem to have been a programme for the concerts to promote Everyone Is Everybody Else in the summer of ‘74, but the success of the live double album later that year was followed by a “thank you” tour in early 1975, for which this rather poor eight-page A4 effort was produced. The inside pages are all black and white, the reproduction of photos is appalling and the information given is not only sparse but also inaccurate. The fans don’t seem to have been impressed, because few copies are to be found today, which has inflated the asking price for examples in good condition to £15.00 or more.
(click picture to download whole programme, 16 MB file)
The programme for the Time Honoured Ghosts tour later that same year is much better. The photos are in colour and the design follows that of Bill Dare’s beautiful album artwork. A more detailed biography penned by the band themselves is included, and there are even two pages dedicated to the support act, a trio of fresh-faced hopefuls called Café Society who included one Tom Robinson in their number.
(click picture to download whole programme, 46 MB file)
For the 1976 Octoberon Tour the souvenir brochure was a touch smaller and had a flimsy cover, but more in-depth notes and some good black and white photos. The UK tour schedule was listed on a separate insert, and the guest artists, Easy Street, had their own section at the back.
(click picture to download whole programme, 29 MB file)
The designers of the 1977 tour programme perversely chose not to use the classic Gone To Earth front cover, opting instead for the rather indistinct band photo montage from the back of the sleeve, topped with the “winged woman” logo. Inside is a biography spiced up with quotes from the band, plus some rather cheesy soft-focus colour photos taken in a set which would double admirably as a high-class brothel! An inaccurate discography pointedly ignores the band’s Harvest label releases, possibly because EMI didn’t stump up for an advertisement in the programme.
Next up is the 1978 XII tour programme, a more substantial effort with a year-by-year history of the band, some good photos and a complete illustrated album discography. There are also individual biographies of the band members, a list of their on-stage equipment and, for the first time, a full-page advertisement for the official fan club founded by Jill Wolstenholme, Friends Of Barclay James Harvest.
(click picture to download whole programme, 64 MB file)
Following Woolly’s departure in 1979, the band’s growing popularity outside of the UK is reflected in more ambitious programme designs and lists of dates which concentrate heavily on Germany and the Continent. 1980’s tour to promote Eyes Of The Universe produced a square booklet mimicking the album cover, printed on more expensive, grained effect paper. The biography is just an update of that in the ‘78 programme, but there are some excellent pictures of the band relaxing on holiday, which were taken in Malta. There is a very
interesting variant of this programme, which can be easily identified by the absence of the “1980 Tour of Britain and Europe” legend on the front. This was a press version of the programme which includes some extra black and white photos and information for the media.
The 1981 Turn Of The Tide programme is a large-format affair with an updated biography and lots of photos, including a page dedicated to the band’s recent concert at the Reichstag in Berlin. This programme was also sold at the German concerts in 1982.
For the French tour later in 1982 this souvenir fold-out poster programme was produced, with a large photo of the band on one side and photos and a short biography of each of the three musicians on the other.
The band’s superstar status in Europe by the time of 1984’s Victims Of Circumstance tour is reflected in the lavish glossy souvenir programme, and the fact that the text is in English, French and German. The biography is just an update of the now-familiar version from earlier programmes, but there is a useful full-colour album discography, some interesting background information about guest musicians Bias Boshell, Kevin McAlea, Jan Ince and Sam Brown, plus a plug for support artist Nigel Mazlyn Jones.
1987’s Face To Face programme follows the same format, with trilingual text, some well-chosen archive photos from all stages of the band’s history and a repeat of the album discography. Support Roy Harper merits a couple of pages at the back.
Regrettably there was no tour programme produced for the Welcome To The Show outing in 1990, so the next one in our listing is for the 25th Anniversary Tour in 1992. Here I have to declare an interest straight away, as I was enlisted to edit the programme and provide all the text. It was a fascinating experience and a most enjoyable one, if slightly frustrating at times. The actual design of the brochure was out of my hands, being left to the professionals at Allister Cordice design and the whole thing was a little rushed in the run-up to the first night of the tour - in fact the programmes didn’t actually catch up with the band until about the fifth concert! Having said all that, the end result was, although I say it myself, quite worthwhile. The band history was the most detailed ever published officially outside of the fan club, and at last we were able to print an accurate, detailed discography, even if the typesetter managed to label both the singles and albums listings as “UK singles”! We took shameless advantage of our involvement in the project to include not only a full-page advertisement for the fan club, which brought us a large number of new members, but also a photo and biography of To Hell With Burgundy, supporting BJH for the second successive tour.
There were no tour programmes produced for the German and Swiss concerts in 1993, 1995 and 1997, partly because tour programmes don't seem to sell very well outside Britain, but also because of the rising cost of producing glossy programmes. For John and Woolly's 2001 concerts we had a colour leaflet printed up, which acted partly as a free mini-programme explaining the current situation within BJH and describing the 2001 tour line-up, and partly as an advertisement for the fan club and the CDs issued by Eagle Records.
(click picture to download whole leaflet, 2 MB file)
Produced for the Barclay James Harvest Featuring Les Holroyd Revolution Days tour in 2002, this A4 programme contained interviews with Les and Mel and a band history in English and German.
For the one-off Easter appearance at the Lowry Theatre by John Lees' Barclay James Harvest in 2009, the ticket price included a concert programme in the form of a special issue of the fan-club magazine, Nova Lepidoptera. The progamme is in full-colour and includes an exclusive interview with John, live and archive photos and a JLBJH discography.
In response to the inevitable questions about how to get hold of copies of any of the tour programmes, the answer is to try the record collector’s market. I’ve seen copies of many of the programmes on sale at record fairs or occasionally in collector’s shops. Record Collector magazine and on-line auction sites are also a good source, as most of the programmes have been advertised there at one time or another. Price-wise, beware of being overcharged. At the time of writing, the going rate for all the programmes from 1975’s Time Honoured Ghosts tour to the 1987 tour should be no more than about £5.00 to £10.00 each. You may have to pay a touch more for the early 1975 BJH Live programme and the 1973 poster programme. The 1970 programme is very difficult to value, as copies rarely come on the market, but would probably be considerably more expensive. Finally, if you want the 2009 Lowry programme, it is still available from the secure shop on this site at a very reasonable price!
[Adapted from an article which first appeared in the fan club magazine, Nova Lepidoptera, issue 40 in March 1998]