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Poor Wages - Barclay James Harvest

One of the problems of being a progressive rock band dependent on album sales in the late sixties / early seventies was that, if they didn't sell, you got absolutely knackered trying to make a living out of playing live concerts. At this time the British college / university rock circuit was in its prime so it seemed that at least once a month Barclay James Harvest were on "somewhere near you" wherever you lived. Which meant that they were a very good band, very tight and they always delivered a great set, which in turn meant they developed a faithful following for their performances even if it didn't convert into album sales. I remember an interview with lead singer and guitarist John Lees round about 1976 where he said as much but shortly after their fortunes changed with a switch of record label followed by terrific success in Europe especially (bizarrely perhaps) in Germany. However, because of their earnest sounding music and use of mellotron (a synthesiser) they gained the popular soubriquet "the poor man's Moody Blues" after being tagged so by a music journalist.

But this was unfair. Their songs were clear, distinctive and melodic. And usually very romantic, the ideal thing for young first year students feeling their way down Cupid's slippery slope. Poor wages is a case in point, sad, wistful, great to listen to. Like many of BJH's gentler numbers, it's best very loud.

"....destroy her cards and letters

act like I never met her

or best of all forget her

until my heart is better..."

It hits the spot. Plus great tambourine, it's not often you can say that.

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