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Barclay James  Harvest - Eyes Of The Universe CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.93 | 102 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This is not really a new-look BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST release we have with EYES OF THE UNIVERSE. Sure, WOOLY WOLSTENHOLME left with all his mellotrons, but had he stayed i don't think it would have mattered anyway. His influence was relegated to one or 2 credits in a good day and the sound has been updated slowly but surely already with their prior albums.

Also this is 1980 now and we know what it means. A lot of prog bands, even the mighty ones had to adapt to the new musical world if they wanted to survive. There were not too many choices: ''Mama'' and ''Lonely heart'' or trying to find a new job at the supermarket next door.So the same goes with BJH but the change is not as drastic as it was for other bands. Why? because first BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST was always on the light side of prog, more interested writing simple melodic songs backed up by some prog elements such as the mellotron or other orchestral arrangements.

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST music has never been about musical experiments, adventurous improvisations or esoteric vocals. This is a band writing beautifuls songs well arranged sure to please you and your grand-mother (almost). So why the 80s would be bad for such a band?. Yes, they turned more and more commercial with blatant attempts at reaching the stars with potential ''hits'', but i think they always tried to keep true to themselves and their level of integrity. ''XII'' was a perfect example for that where ''loving is easy'' meddles well with ''the streets of San Francisco'' or ''Nova Lepidoptera''. Not that it was a 5 star album, but a good , decent one nonetheless.

So what about EYES OF THE UNIVERSE?.There is is still a lot of keyboards! Of course, no mellotron or grandiose organ, but sadly quite a few modern synth well in the 80s style. WOOLY hasn't been replaced as the band is now a trio with some help from studio or guests musicians.But you know what! i do like this album and i listen to it well more often than XII or OCTOBERON. Why? because the band , LEES and HOLROYD i mean, have not lost their touch at creating nice songs with great melodies well in the classic BJH style. Don't get me wrong! BJH would come in the future with very average, sometimes poor releases, starting with the next one but EYES OF THE UNIVERSE is not one of them.

I haven't said either it is a masterpiece as there are some songs, well not that great like ALLRIGHT DOWN GET BOOGIE another JOHN LEES tentative at sounding ''rock''. I mentioned in other reviews LEES and Rock N Roll don't mix!!LES HOLROYD is definitely the guy trying hard to get ''hits'' and he is trying with LOVE ON THE LINE, a tune ALAN PARSONS PROJECT would be proud of. Not bad anyway, very predictable for sure but well arranged as usual.

But i am a sucker for nice melodies, nice harmonies, nice arrangements and BJH has not lost this edge because we are now venturing into the 80s. JOHN LEES still knows how to compose strong melodic songs like SPERRATUS or CAPRICORN which are vintage BJH. And how can i not enjoy the beautiful HOLROYD penned ballad PLAY TO THE WORLD? This is as good as any great ''classic'' BJH song from the past! Holroyd at his best! THE SONG ( THEY LOVE TO SING) is another ballad from him, not as good but still very pleasurable to listen to.The sound quality of EYES OF THE UNIVERSE is awesome, the vocals are crystal clear, so pure Holroyd seems to sing like an angel ( if only i knew how an angel sings!)

Democracy is plainly established within the band! 4 songs for each songwriter down to the middle. HOLROYD follows LEES who follows HOLROYD who follows.........!EYES OF THE UNIVERSE is not an album that broke new ground, just BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST doing what they know best: composing and performing cute melodic songs!Not a necessary listening, just a pleasant one sure to please old (and new) BJH fans.


febus | 3/5 |


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