What does it sound like?:
After Barclay James Harvest recorded three generally very good LPs for EMI’s boutique progressive label Harvest they moved to the more mainstream Polydor where their music proceeded to become, er, rather more mainstream. Time Honoured Ghosts is the third LP for Polydor, released in October 1975, and the law of diminishing returns applies here.
While retaining their original four piece line up, only hints of their original folk roots, charm and bucolic English whimsy remain. Mellotron maestro Wooly Woolstenholme is largely sidelined here, only supplying one song: a slice of deep melancholia called Beyond The Grave. Ironically, Wooly would eventually take his own life many years later. Elsewhere, the best two songs here are supplied by guitarist John Lees. One, called Titles, is a unique oddity whose lyrics are comprised entirely of Beatles song titles, with only a few added linking words. Surprisingly, it works well. The other highlight is album closer One Night which recounts the tale of a prostitute from a customer’s point of view.
Overall, there is a mid Atlantic feel to the sound, which is not surprising as the band were shipped to San Francisco for recording. Harvest producer Elliot Mazer was at the helm. It’s all very competent. This band could rock on stage but they aren’t given much room here; only the coda to Song For You allows the band to stretch out in a Wish You Were Here Floydian manner.
The CD is just the original album with one bonus cut – a rather pointless short re-recording of Child Of The Universe. Transfer on the CD is from the recently re-located Master Mix tape. It sounds fine.
The DVD features the album in Hi resolution stereo plus an “up mix” 5:1 mix of the aforementioned Stereo Master Tape. This is disappointing; apparently the multi tracks cannot be found. There are also five live in the studio videos of songs from the album. I haven’t heard the DVD or seen the videos so can’t comment further.
What does it all *mean*?
Barclay James Harvest toured Europe extensively after the release of Time Honoured Ghosts and became absolutely huge in Germany. Just goes to show how good they were live. Their best album remains their second on Harvest, Once Again, which contains their three best songs: She Said, Mockingbird and the gorgeous Galadriel.
Goes well with…
Late September 2021
Might suit people who like…
Colourful album covers with unchallenging music inside.