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Barclay James  Harvest - Face To Face CD (album) cover

FACE TO FACE

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

2.56 | 62 ratings

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febus
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars A FINE RETURN TO FORM!

For the first time in their long lasting career, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST took a long break and the fans would have to wait 3 years for a new album. But the wait was worthy as FACE TO FACE issued in 1987 is the best BJH album of the decade. Somehow, our 2 song writers found a way to rejunevate their inspiration and creativity at the fountain of youth. Not that we have a 5 star record, but things are really looking (or sounding, should i say) for the better.

As usual, LES HOLROYD and JOHN LEES share the writing credits, 6 songs for each one and there are quite a few good ones on FACE TO FACE.(and a few very so-so as well). This album sounds more '' real'' BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST , less plastic less processed supermarket muzak than what we had to endure with the last 3 studio recordings. There is life in it, more importantly more heart, more feelings. Some songs can even be compared favorably with some of their old classics.

JOHN LEES provides once again the goods with 5 great tracks out of his 6songs. Sadly there is another attempt at LEES the hard rocker on PANIC and you all know know what it means! definitely not his strongest asset.But he came up with great other songs well reminiscent of the glorious past like HE SAID LOVE which can be seen as a HYMN part 2 with the same message (not that i care) but the melody is wonderful and features great arrangements. ALONE IN THE NIGHT which follows start very calmly with a cute soft voiced melody backed up by an acoustic guitar then explodes in a rockier moment where the band finally plays like a band with good energy and fresh desire. No electro-pop here! This is the BJH of old, the one we used to love!

YOU NEED LOVE (kind of corny title-there are 4 songs with the word love on this album) is another sweet LEES melody, sir PAUL MC CARTNEY could have come up with. The best of JOHN LEES songs have yet to be heard with next the magnificent AFRICAN , my fave of the album, one of the strongest track he ever wrote! Very powerful, LEES singing very emotionally even adding some anger ( BJH angry??imagine that!), strong muscal support played with a sense of urgency and a lot of power.

GUITAR BLUES as well is as good as anything LEES composed in the 70s and would have feature nicely on EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE or TIME HONOURED GHOSTS---no less!! A wonderful melodic typical ''classic'' BJH song with a great guitar at the end. BJH sounds like rock band finally (even if it polished), not like a processed product from a music factory.

However LES HOLROYD sadly still provides sub-par material.Not everything is bad, he even composed a really great track KIEV, a ballad in the quality he composed a long time ago as good as BERLIN for example. But the synth-pop crass commercial songs are still present with the cheesy PRISONER OF YOUR LOVE or the dreadful ALL MY LIFE with syrupy sax and all! ON THE WINGS OF LOVE is another of those ''generic''HOLROYD ballads,kind of sweet , not bad well sung as usual but can you remember something about it when the song has ended? TURN THE KEY is quite good actually , a great melody played by a band, not sounding coming out of a computer even if the 80s synths can be well heard throughout the song.It sounds like a YES song- circa 90125. I can imagine JON ANDERSON singing this one.

FACE TO FACE is definitely an improvement over their other 80s releases, not as good as the ones from the good old times, but having 8 good or great songs out of 12, that was a very nice gift for the suffering BJH fan back then in 1987. At least FACE TO FACE sounds more of a band effort than 2 mini-solos albums as they attempted (mainly JOHN LEES) to go back to the BJH basics.

3.5 STARS.

febus | 3/5 |

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