Album Portfolio




John Lees' Barclay James Harvest - North


John Lees' Barclay James Harvest - North album cover


2CD: Esoteric Antenna EANTCD 21022, 07-10-13 (limited 2CD digipack)
CD: Esoteric Antenna EANTCD 1023, 07-10-13 (limied digipack, then jewel case)
LP: Esoteric Antenna EANTLP1023, 07-10-13


Disc One - North

If You Were Here Now
Ancient Waves *
In Wonderland
On Leave
The Real Deal
On Top Of The World *
Unreservedly Yours
North
The End Of The Day


     * = not on vinyl LP


Disc Two - Live At The Opera House, Buxton - 19th February 2011

Ursula (The Swansea Song
Galadriel
Mockingbird
Ball And Chain
Summer Soldier
Medicine Man
Song For Dying
The Poet
After The Day

Recording Details

Recording Studios:
Friarmere Studios, Saddleworth. All tracks mixed at Friarmere Studios except "Unreservedly Yours" mixed by Ben Wiseman at Blitz Productions, London. Mixing assistance by Mark Powell.Mastered by Ben Wiseman at the Audio Archiving Company, London.

Recording Dates:
2012 - 2013

Producer:
John Lees, Craig Fletcher, Jez Smith and Kev Whitehead



Musicians

John Lees (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals)
Craig Fletcher (bass guitar, acoustic guitars, keyboards, vocals)
Jez Smith (keyboards, vocals)
Kevin Whitehead (drums, percussion, vocals)



The Frugal Horns ("On Top Of The World"):

John J Lees (cornet)
Jolyon Stead (euphonium)
Bruce Jones (trombone)
Graham "Batts" Batley (cornet)


John J Lees (flugelhorn on "The End Of The Day")



Sleeve

Design and artwork by Phil Smee at Waldo's Design & Dream Emporium, St. Albans. Band and location photography by Phil Smee, studio photography by JLBJH.



If You Were Here Now

Lead vocal: Craig Fletcher

Kicking off the album with a statement of intent, as Craig Fletcher takes lead vocals, and it’s clear from the outset that this is a band where everybody has an input and everything is shared. As John told Prog magazine, “I don’t particularly like singing! So the more I can get somebody else to sing and they’ve got a lyrical interest in it, the better.”

The lyrics are ambiguous - a lament for a lost lover, or memories of an old friend?

All of the keyboard work was played by Jez Smith on a Korg Kronos.



Lyrics:
I held on for so long
Could have been the ride of our lives
Into the unknown
In a world with you by my side
You questioned why?
What difference would it make?
You couldn’t see
The more I’d give, the less you’d take.

If you were here now
I wouldn’t beg you to stay
Not for one day
I’d let you go
If you were here now

We’d fly high and live fast
Never look to the past
In my dreams I could see
All the things I thought we might be
And still you’d say (as if you cared)
What difference would it make?
You couldn’t see
The more I’d give the less you’d take.

If you were here now
I wouldn’t beg you to stay
Not for one day
I’d let you go, I'd walk away
If you were here now

If I could turn the hands of time
And take us back to where we start
Would it change a thing or would we still be apart?

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

Ancient Waves

Lead vocal: John Lees

No ambiguity here, the subject being the Iraq War of 2003, although the general theme of politicians overriding the will of the people and taking us to war has occurred more than once in the BJH canon. This was the first song from North to be written, as far back as 2005, and started the whole ball rolling, although it was largely re-arranged for the album.

The lyrics are unusually explicit in their thinly veiled references to George Bush, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, and the “quiet man” who “lays down his life” may be assumed to be Dr. David Kelly, the British scientist and former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq. He was hounded by the authorities after being outed as the source for a newspaper article suggesting that the dossier on ‘weapons of mass destruction’ had been ‘sexed up’ to justify the invasion of Iraq. He was found dead two days later.

The Mellotron sounds under John’s guitar solo are played by Jez on a Memotron, bought by Woolly for festivals and situations where the use of an original ’Tron was impractical.



Lyrics:
Doesn’t anybody hear the desperate roar of ancient waves?
Does no-one listen any more?
The rising sound of rushing tide and raging surf
As it crashes on the shore
When will we learn?
When will we learn?

A bitter cry hangs in the air
Its ring of truth so hard to bear
Why don’t we listen any more?
The nameless hordes ranked millions deep
Cry out in pain from restless sleep
Why don’t we listen any more?
This tempest we ignore
This tempest we ignore

Some talk of history, then history they deny
They fear destruction then seek to destroy
And all the while those voices cry out in vain
Why doesn’t anyone hear?

A flaming bush sows seeds of fear
That grow so loud they mask the voice of wisdom close at hand
A blare of silence drowns the sound of endless protests crashing down
In ruin on the sand
When will we learn?
When will we learn?

Some talk of history, then history they deny
They fear destruction then seek to destroy
And all the while those voices cry out in vain
And why doesn’t anyone hear?

A quiet man lays down his life
Maybe he heard the tortured cries of those who call for peace
The Prince of Darkness spins the knife
That silences dissent with lies
And everyone’s deceived
When will we learn?
When will we learn?
When will we learn?
When will we, when will we, when will we,
When will we learn?

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

In Wonderland

Lead vocal: John Lees

The perils of social networking! Tongue firmly in cheek here, with a song which is an affectionate pastiche of the musical style of one of their favourite bands, and which had the working title “Steely John”!

Alice (not her real name!) was a student of John’s when he was working as a Music Technician at Crompton House Church of England High School, involved with the production of the GCSE and A Level students' Music and Music Technology coursework.

OK, who can translate all of the text-speak acronyms? You may have to ask your kids for help with this one ...



Lyrics:

Poor Alice - social network just went up in flames
And no one seems to care
Poor Alice in despair
Never listens, talks forever
Lost without her phone
Should have stayed at home

Poor Alice so deluded, doesn't understand
That nothing comes for free
Life's not on demand
Never listens, talks forever
Lost without her phone
Should have stayed at home
Facebook, You Tube, you lose

Give it a try
Switch the phone off
Do it now, you can get by
Don't hesitate
Switch the phone off
Do it now
Give it a try won't you please?

Hair extensions, fake tan, insane
Anything for fame
Pleasure is her aim
Schmetterlings for brains
Still talking, no one listening
Silence from the phone
Should have stayed at home
Habbo Bebo Bimbo

Give it a try
Switch the phone off
Do it now you can get by
Don't hesitate
Switch the phone off
Do it now
Give it a try won't you please?

(They say)
A C O R N, A S L P, B O B F O C, F B O C D,
H B I C, L O P S O D, B R B

(She says)
A F A I C, Y O L O, A Y T M T B
F B O C D, I N B D, R O F L M A O, G 2 G

Unliked i-slave
No app can save
Hooked on 3G
She’ll crash and burn
Just wait and see

Give it a try
Switch the phone off
Do it now, you can get by
Don't hesitate
Switch the phone off
Do it now
Give it a try won't you please?

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

On Leave

Lead vocal: John Lees

What can you say about this one? A joint composition written in an attempt to come to terms with Woolly's suicide, it's more of an observation about his illness and the effect that it had, not only on him but on all those around him, than a straightforward tribute. Musical references to the Mellotron Cowboy abound, and the "chanted" second half, written on a flight to Japan in August, 2012, comprises the band members’ own very personal recollections of Woolly’s deeds and utterances.

Jez’s piano sound is "Alicia's keys" by Native Instruments, the ‘Hammond’ is played on the Kronos, then there are Memotron flutes and strings. The synth solo plus one or two finale string parts and a few tinkly sounds are from Native Instruments on the Mac Book, and most of the orchestral part of the finale is done on a Roland Fantom.

RIP, Woolly.



Lyrics:
First you turn your back
Then you walk away
A moth drawn to a flame
Night without a day
Someone calls your name
There’s no sign you hear
No comfort for the sane
No sunshine in your rain

Love is an emotion so strong
It hurts the way you feel
Love is an emotion so strong
You can’t see what’s real
Locked in your devotion
Never finding answers
Guilty of no crime
Just sentence without ending
Now you choose to fly

Haunted by the old, hounded by the new
Thoughts you couldn’t share
Darkness found you there
Just a quip goodbye
Like we didn’t care
And no one there to hold
You falling in despair

Love is an emotion so strong
It hurts the way you feel
Love is an emotion so strong
You can’t see what’s real
Locked in your devotion
Never finding answers
Guilty of no crime
Just sentence without ending
Now you choose to fly

Hide from the sunlight, live in a drama
Unseen moments locked in a camera
Mahleresque singing, beautiful simplicity
Polarised emotions longing synchronicity
It’s not the damage, it’s the deception
Chords that offend like perfect imperfection
Flight times are a-changing
Veiled is the signpost
Rapidly descending
Devil takes the hindmost
Season’s greetings shrouded in sorrow
Postscripted farewells
Hopeless tomorrow
Not for the first time but for the last time
Ball of confusion trying to walk a straight line once again.

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

The Real Deal

Lead vocal: Craig Fletcher

John told Pete Feenstra of the Get Ready To Rock web site:

“We’d got to the end and had done everything and Jez turned round and said; ‘I think, looking at it, we’re about five minutes short, it should be longer than this’, and I said: ‘There’s not really a rock song in this, is there?’ and everyone agreed.

So I’d been playing some blues riffs a couple of weeks before in the studio with Jez and we all sat down, the four of us, and I said, ‘What about that rock riff we were messing around with the other day?’ We worked on it just in the evenings and from start to finish it took three days.”

John’s guitar sound, channelling the late, great Paul Kossoff of Free, is his prized Gibson ‘The Paul’, one of only a hundred copies which were ever made for the UK, and a variant of the original ‘Les Paul’ favoured by Koss.

All other lead guitar on the album, incidentally, is played on John’s Parker Fly, including the bits that sound like a classic Strat!

Lyrics:
I've seen the sun go down on this smoky town
Like a devil sinking in the west
When the night time comes there’s no place to go
You can hide but you’re never going to rest
There’s a one eyed man selling broken dreams
If you need them he’s the one I’d get
But if you long for freedom and you live for love
There’s a problem that you’d better not forget
It's a long way back
It's a long way back

If you can run like a bullet train
If evil calls can you take the strain
And give your heart without feeling pain
You’ve got the real deal in your hand
If you can live through the toughest fight
And find your way through the darkest night
Then take your strength from the cold wind’s bite
You’ve got the real deal in your hand

Hear the distant cries of the tortured souls
As the red sun fades into the black
When it’s time to go there’s no place for fools
’Cause you know that you’re never coming back
There’s a one eyed man selling endless tears
If you need them he’s the one I’d get
But if you long for freedom and you live for love
There’s a problem that you’d better not forget
It’s a long way back
It’s a long way back

If you can run like a bullet train
If evil calls can you take the strain
And give your heart without feeling pain
You’ve got the real deal in your hand
If you can live through the toughest fight
And find your way through the darkest night
Then take your strength from the cold wind’s bite
You’ve got the real deal in your hand

You know you’re a long way down
And now there’s no turning back
’Cause nobody's there to set you free

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

On Top Of The World

Lead vocal: Craig Fletcher

The economy of the North of England was reliant on heavy industry for much of the twentieth century, from coal mines to cotton mills, and every community or works seemed to have its own brass band.

With the rapid decline of these industries in the 1980s, whole communities were decimated, the machinery fell silent, and all that was left were the bands and the band rooms.

This song came out of a conversation the band had one night about the Fairey Engineering Band, for whom John’s son had played cornet. Their band room had burnt down, with which the very last building of the entire engineering works had gone.

The brass introduction on this track is a hymn called “Deep Harmony” composed by Handel Parker in 1854, and is played by the wonderfully named “Frugal Horns”, comprising John J Lees on cornet, Graham ”Batts” Batley on cornet, Jolyon Stead on euphonium and Bruce Jones on trombone.



Lyrics:
Days were long, the work was hard
We reamed the coal out yard by yard
With stooping backs and bended knees
We would crawl to reach the seams
We moved deep beneath the land
We moved mountains with our hands

Life was good, life was grand
Played third cornet with the band
We were brothers, we were sound
Friendships born and raised deep beneath the ground

Made the steam that moved the ships
Across the oceans we made you rich
But the powers that would be
Consigned our world to history
Maggie came and took away
All our rights to work and pay

We were angry, we were proud
We would fight and stand our ground
We were brothers, union bound
Now the spoil is covered green
Houses where the pit had been
The only building left to stand
Was the building for the band

Life was good, life was grand
Played third cornet with the band
We were brothers, we were sound
Friendships born and raised deep beneath the ground

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

Unreservedly Yours

Lead vocal: John Lees

The one which John once described as the "unreservedly soppy love song"! Issued as a download-only single prior to the album’s release, the song surprised everybody by making it into the download charts, peaking at #79 in Amazon’s main chart, #3 in rock and #1 in Classic Rock!

It has a jaunty, folksy feel, accentuated by the "squeeze box" sound, which is actually performed on Jez’s trusty Korg 01 pro. Solo and finale strings are on the Korg Kronos, and there’s some Memotron in there, too.

An edited version of the song was used for a "live" appearance by the band on Sunday morning German TV programme, Fernsehgarten.



Lyrics:
There’s a place that I go when I’m feeling quite low
And the sky’s turned a dark shade of grey
It’s a place I can find in the back of my mind
Without clouds, where the sun shines all day
When I’m missing someone and I just can’t go on
Like my world’s falling apart
There’s a place deep inside, it’s a place I can find
And it holds the key to my heart

When I look at you I think of
all the happy things we've done together
And it makes me smile
Cause you are the only, you are the only,
You are the only one

There are times in my life when I’m all on my own
Missing friends just memories past
That’s the time that I stray to that far away place
And your face in an old photograph

When I look at you I think of
all the happy things we've done together
And it makes me smile
’Cause you are the only, you are the only,
You are the only one

I can’t say it with flowers
Can’t send you a card
Make romantic gestures or say it out loud
Just treasure the past in an old photograph

Because when I look at you I think of
all the happy things we’ve done together
And it makes me smile
’Cause you are the only, you are the only,
You are the only one

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

North

Lead vocals: John Lees and Craig Fletcher

The penultimate song written for the album, when the band decided that an album called North should really have a title track! All of the machinery sounds were created on the Kronos, except for the clanks, which Kev did with some bits of metal lying around in the studio!

The song evokes the bleak and wild natural beauty of the band's home area as well as describing its recent social history through the experiences of one person living through a period of massive change.

We follow their progress from childhood games to adult worker, summoned by the factory whistle, the workday starting, then seeing the cotton industry failing and the factory going, before finally retiring - or going to a more permanent place of rest ...



Lyrics:
Grey skies, bleak moors
Rain falls, snow blows
Piggy in the middle when the old man snores
That’s North

Fog in the air, ice on the pane
Dragged from a dream by the knocker-ups game
Piggy in the middle when the whistle blows
That’s North

Dogs bark, rain bites
Clogs spark in cats eyes
Piggy in the middle when the workday starts
That’s North

Visions of life in the past
Lost in the shadows they cast
Grey as the clouds keep you hiding
From the sun

Gears grind, coals burn
Boilers steam, shafts turn
Piggy in the middle now the cotton’s failed
That’s North

Silent mills now empty halls
History written on the back of a wall
Piggy in the middle now the factory’s gone
That’s North

Mist in air, frost on the grass
Smell of mild beer in a half empty glass
Piggy in the middle now it’s time to rest
That's North

Visions of life in the past
Lost in the shadows they cast
Break through the clouds
As you step out in the sun

Blue skies put a smile on your sad face
Golden flowers on a May day
Daffodils in a green place
Purple like the heather on your hillsides
Towering spires of millstone
Crystal waters below
Look below the surface and you’ll find a different past
Reflected in the colours of the North

That’s North

[John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]

The End Of The Day

Poem read by John Lees

Ammon Wrigley was a well-known local dialect poet from the Saddleworth area, as well as a part-time archaeologist and historian, and was known personally to Olwen Lees’ grandfather.

John has always had an interest in local history, and was reading his grandfather-in-law’s copy of Wrigley’s book, Wind In The Heather, one day, when he discovered an old pamphlet inside, including an untitled poem handwritten on a blank page, which John found moving.

The poem turned out to be unpublished, and Wrigley’s surviving relatives kindly gave the band permission to use it on the album. It’s set to a piece of music which could easily have come from Woolly’s pen, but which was adapted from a Craig Fletcher song called "Falling" and performed by him using Native Instruments software, embellished by John J Lees on flugelhorn.

A fitting end to an album with its roots firmly grounded in The North.



Lyrics:
Two Gods watched o’er young North’s birth
The God of Ale and the God of Mirth
Says Mellow Ale, “This child’s my own”
“No, no” says Mirth, “Not thine alone”

And so each agreed to take a part
Ale seized his throat and Mirth his heart
And made him together what people may ken
The best of cronies and the straightest of men

The best of cronies and the straightest of men


[Words: Ammon Wrigley (1861–1946), by kind permission of Mrs Ruth Greenwood and Mrs Christine Seville. Music: John Lees/Craig Fletcher/Jez Smith/Kev Whitehead, Copyright Control]


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