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Barclay James  Harvest - XII CD (album) cover

XII

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.56 | 110 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Their previous album "Gone To Earth" has IMO already started the downwards quality of their work. My favorite period of the band starts with "Everyone..." and lasts with "Octoberon". On top of these ones, I have to add the great "Once Again" from their early days. During the Harvest years, they will also produce the majority of their greatest songs ("She Said", "Galadriel", "Mocking Bird" etc.) but they were spread over too many different albums to really make those ones very interesting.

When I started to listen to "XII", I could barely believe what I heard. The opening number is absolutely dreadful. An attempt to a rock song, but boooooooring. One of their worse of their Polydor days. Unfortunately, it won't the only one of this style. "Classics a Tale of Two Sixties" is a tribute to some rock legends. A bit similar to what they had done with "Titles" in "Time Honoured Ghosts". But that one was a beautiful and melodic track while the rock pastiche we have here is totally unappropriate.

BJH seems to remain into a more rocking territory than ever with "Turning in Circles". My verdict is the same : useless. Although more in their classic style, "Harbour" can really not awake the slightiest interest in me. Mellowish to such an extent...

Some songs won't be that bad, but they will not reach the quality of the great BJH work.

"Fact the Closed Shop" is an example. This mellow ballad has some Latin character. It reminds me of the flute passages from "El Condor Pasa" (Simon & Garfunkel) although I do not know whether it is flute or some keyboards effects here. "Sip of Wine" and its soft-pop-rock mood belongs as well to this category. As the pointless "Giving It Up".

I will include "The Streets of San Francisco as well into this category. I would have hoped that this longer track (almost six minutes) would have held better moments. Folkish and too monotonous. There will be fortunately some good old BJH songs on this album. More in the style of their earlier production. "Berlin" is definitely the best number from "XII". A jewel of a symphonic melody. As will "In Search of England" : an emotional and bombastic (at times) piece of music. Even the orchestration sounds won't affect my feeling. This is beautiful music which has been BJH driving force for several years.

The longer "Science Fiction Nova Lepidoptera" also belongs to the good songs from this work. After a useless and noisy intro (over a minute), BJH will offer another nice and romantic ballad. Some abhor BJH for this type of tracks and it is exactly thanks to these ones that I love the band so much. Emotions at their peak.

All in all, this is not a bad album. Only a few songs are really terrible but most of the other ones are pleasant. I just can not cope when BJH tries to sound rockier. It is really against their nature and the result is mostly poor. My global feeling about this album is that it is slightly better than "Gone To Earth". I would range this album to parity with "Time Honoured Ghosts".

Nothing essential though. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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