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Barclay James  Harvest - Victims Of Circumstance CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.27 | 84 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars All together now, "I crashed my car, do-do-do".

Of all the BJH albums (and there have been many), this is the one I listen to least. While a number of their albums have been relatively weak, I have still found pleasure to a greater or lesser extent in almost everything they've done. In this case though, I just find the album to be lacking in soul.

The most striking thing about the opening section of album is the prevalence of female backing vocals, immediately giving the album a lighter more pop orientated feel. Tracks such as Les Holroyd's "Hold on" become repetitive, anonymous pop rock. The opening track "Sideshow", on which both Lees and Holroyd sing lead vocal (a very rare occurrence), holds up better through the quality of the song, but I cannot help but feel the female vocals are superfluous.

"For your love" is an unashamed ballad by John, complete with a lyric clearly inviting the waving of lighters at live performances. Pip Williams (who worked with Uriah Heep in the 1990s) provides some slushy but sympathetic orchestration, while Bias Boshell, the guest keyboard player for the album, contributes some fine piano. The closing section, with more female vocals, is nicely put together. Les offers a similar ballad to close the album, but the results are more prosaic and predictable.

The album title actually comes from the lyrics of Lees "Rebel woman", which in turn inspired Holroyd to compose the track "Victims of circumstance". "Rebel woman", like Gary Moore's "Murder in the skies" was inspired by Russia shooting down a civilian aircraft over Korea, and the unforgivable death of the "victims of circumstance" on board. Holroyd picks up a similar theme with the title track which, despite the jaunty melody, deals with some serious political issues. The song reached number one in the French singles chart!

Lees' only composition on the second side of the album is the rather bizarre "Inside my nightmare". This song is about someone who kills his girlfriend by crashing his car while driving dangerously. The melody though is upbeat with a pounding rock beat. It all seems a tad inappropriate, especially with the female backing vocalists adding "Do-do- do's"!

"Victims of circumstance" demonstrates once again that Barclay James Harvest have put their prog influences firmly behind them, in favour of radio friendly pop rock. The songs are adequate, and Pip Williams has made every effort to breath every bit of life he can into them. At the end of the day though, this is a very ordinary album.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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