christine lavin

J o h n... W e s l e y... H a r d i n g

beach full of shells

John Wesley Harding

It Happened One Night &

It Never Happened At All (2004)


"The rapid-fire songs on this two-CD set never miss their mark. . . Lyrical gems pepper every song."
Sing Out! 
“As John Wesley Harding readily acknowledges in the liner notes, releasing the live, crudely recorded It Happened One Night as his 1989 debut was an ill-advised career move. Yet 15 years on, the record – a spirited romp through his early songbook – remains the best representation of the hyperactive folkie, a dedicated troubadour-type who’s always been more at home on the stage than in the studio. For [this set’s second disc], Harding trawled through old reels to piece together It Never Happened At All, 14 studio tracks from the period . . . [that mostly] feature backing from the Attractions and an array of pub rock vets who ably flesh out wry Costello-style stand-outs like ‘Lovers Society’ and ‘Roy Orbison Know’.” 
Mojo, November 2004 
“This 2-CD set is neatly split into two distinct records. On both, Harding shows he’s more than a musician, he’s a raconteur set to music, an old fashioned satirist and humorist and a teller of truths. In this instance music is the means, but his songs would be just as powerful spoken or written down. John Wesley Harding is a chronicler of the foibles and frailties, the triumphs and tragedies that colour our lives. On the live CD he is quite clearly enjoying himself in his natural element. The intimacy of guitar and voice  draws his audience to him like students eager to learn. For Harding’s part, he is obviously happy just to have brought his tales to town . . . On It Happened One Night, John Wesley Harding presents his music in its purest and simplest form, music as honestly written and passionately performed as this would find embellishment an unwanted intrusion. . . . In parts, It Never Happened At All has a much fuller, more commercial sound. . . . Harding’s lyrical suppleness keeps the album razor sharp. . . Harding follows the timeline of great UK singer songwriters as faithfully as a man following a thread out of a maze. With these two albums, he shows himself to be a musician for all seasons. Rocker, poet, punk, popster or folkie, it all comes as one. But the sum of the parts is something unique.”
“. . . [These two discs] showcase Harding’s insightful, brash, and acerbically funny mix of folk, pop, and rock.”
Dirty Linen
“. . . One of the most articulate writers to have emerged in the past couple of decades . . .This two-disc set consists of his live studio album in an expanded format as well as a second disc of studio recordings that should have been the first album but never happened due to changes in record label. It turns out to be a great album with stellar accompaniment by members of The Attractions, Lindisfarne, Mark-Almond and Geraint Watkins.”
Relix, December/January 2005 
“This is a beefy package: 34 tracks, nearly half of which have never been released before. But don't think that is because the songs are weak or throwaways. This is a very strong collection from an artist captured at the crossroads of independence . . . Either It Happened One Night or It Never Happened At All would have been satisfying by itself. Together, these two discs create a document that captures both the live and studio sides of a young performer with 120 minutes of great music. This collection is sure to please hardcore fans and newbies alike.”
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
“English alt-folkie John Wesley Harding never really liked It Happened One Night, his 1988 debut, even though the critics and fans did. So he did it again. This double-disc exercise in revisionism is more than your average reissue: the live set, recorded in front of a 100-strong crowd of chatty friends, random strangers and confused regulars n a London pub, has been remastered and doubled-up with It Never Happened At All, a never-released studio album from the same period . . . The resulting two-headed monster of self-re-examination is an intriguing concept. The familiar live album – augmented by two extra songs – sounds great . . . The studio album is the real treat, though; far more than the usual slipshod B-sides and rarities collection, It Never Happened At All is a proper album offering interesting, fully-realized takes on tracks like ‘Roy Orbison Knows’ and ‘Who You Really Are’ that had only previously existed as live solo versions.”
Spendid E-zine, Janaury 14, 2005 
“Fans should be ecstatic.”
All Music Guide