The story begins in The '60s, when good old Rock & Roll was gradually evolving into just plain Rock. This transformation was keenly observed by the entire music industry, including the British conglomerate EMI; their act The Beatles was a huge influence on the new sounds, and their roster also included such forward-thinking groups as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and The Pretty Things. EMI executive Malcolm Jones proposed that the company start a new imprint for these and other "underground" bands, intended to compete with smaller labels that were strongly identified with the new music, such as Island and Immediate. (The success of Deram, a Decca subsidiary that was charting with The Moody Blues and Ten Years After, was another factor.) EMI agreed, and in the spring of 1969, Harvest Records was born.
Harvest was EMI's "hippie label", its home for the genres that the counterculture listened to: Progressive Rock (Barclay James Harvestnote , Pink Floyd), Psychedelic Rock (The Edgar Broughton Band), Hard Rock (Deep Purple, Quatermass), Blues Rock (Climax Blues Band), Folk Rock (Shirley and Dolly Collins, Forest), Singer/Songwriters (Kevin Ayers, Syd Barrett, Michael Chapman, Roy Harper). Many of these acts never expanded beyond their loyal cult followings, and EMI's American division, Capitol Records, had moderate success at best with Harvest releases. Still, in England, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple sold consistently; so did The Move (which came to Harvest near the end of its career) and its spin-offs, Electric Light Orchestra (whose first two albums were on Harvest) and Roy Wood's Wizzard. Overall, life was good.
And then, suddenly, life was great for a while. In 1973, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon became one of the best-selling albums of all time and made the band international superstars—just in time for Capitol to regret its shabby treatment of the Floyd, who had already switched labels to Columbia Records in the US. (The group remained with EMI/Harvest internationally.) Soon afterwards, artsy glam rockers Be-Bop Deluxe signed with Harvest and gradually built up a following on both sides of the Atlantic. However, rock was about to change again, as prog and its related genres were overtaken by Punk Rock and New Wave Music in the middle of The '70s. Harvest coped for a while, signing new acts such as Wire, The Saints and The Shirts, but by the middle of The '80s its golden age was over. By the Turn of the Millennium, the once-proud label had been relegated to reissues and a very few releases by new acts. Then EMI went out of business in 2012, and its assets were divided; the Harvest catalogue wound up at Parlophone Records (originally an EMI label, now part of Warner Music Group), while the name and logo went to Capitol, now a division of Universal Music Group. For a while, it looked as if the Harvest moon had set for the last time...
...but then, in 2013, Capitol brought Harvest back! The new version of the label continues the tradition of signing quirky performers and attempting to bring them into the mainstream. Unlike the original Harvest, the new company has many American artists. Its roster includes acts such as Banks, TV on the Radio and Charlotte OC.
Compare Vertigo Records, a former Harvest competitor which is also owned by UMG.
Pre-revival Harvest acts with TV Tropes pages:
- Be-Bop Deluxe
- Richard Brautigannote
- Kate Bush+
- Can (Europe only)
- Deep Purple*
- Thomas Dolby+
- Duran Duran (US, Canada and South America)
- Electric Light Orchestra*
- Iron Maiden+
- Love* (part of a licensing deal with US label Blue Thumb Records)
- The Move*
- Pink Floyd
- The Pretty Things*
- Suzi Quatro (one Venezuelan release)
- Queen (some South American releases)
- Renaissance (some European releases)
- Cliff Richard (one Canadian release)
- Soft Machine*
- T.Rex (Harvest released The Slider in Venezuela)
- Ike and Tina Turner* (also part of the Blue Thumb licensing deal)
- Whitesnake (Europe only)
- Roy Wood
Post-revival Harvest acts with TV Tropes pages:
*Except the US and Canada
+US and Canada only