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Barclay James  Harvest - Welcome To The Show CD (album) cover

WELCOME TO THE SHOW

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

2.91 | 56 ratings

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febus
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars ONCE AGAIN JOHN LEES SAVES THE DAY!

And not the way we expected! Can you imagine that after all these years, John Lees FINALLY got it right when it comes to compose ''hard rock'' songs! No this is not Tony Iommi or Randy Rhoads yet, but now i am able to listen to the 2 ''hard'' songs from WELCOME TO THE SHOW and even enjoy them !Patience is a virtue!

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is considered by some as the best BJH album of the 80s (it was recorded in 1989, but released the following year). I still think FACE TO FACE has the stronger material as AFRICAN, HE SAID LOVE, KIEV or other ALONE IN THE NIGHT were on par with their best songs of the past. Also it has been mentioned that it was some kind of a return to the roots! I won't go that far as WELCOME TO THE SHOW is still a very modern album using the best new recording technologies of the time.

What makes this album interesting comes down to the vital element of a good record: good or superior songwriting!JOHN LEES as usual delivers some quality songs. Even if there are no new MOCKINGBIRD or HYMN, all (yes, i said all!!) of his 6 songs are pleasant to go through as there are no real turkeys from him on WELCOME TO THE SHOW. LEES 2 rock songs even have diversity to the album and enhance its overall quality! Finally, LEES mastered the guitar riff intro technic after failed attempts like on POLK STREET RAG or other CRAZY CITY. Just listen to CHEAP THE BULLET or PSYCHEDELIC CHILD; there are strong riffs and the rythm section finally help carry the tunes with energy and precision.

I thought i would never able to say that before: BJH's 2 ''rock'' tracks help to make this album BETTER!But LEES hasn't lost his touch on his 'safe zone' compositions either. LADY MCBETH is a typical LEES ballad, not the best he ever wrote, but it won't hurt you! A lot has been written already about JOHN LENNON'S GUITAR with its autobiagraphic incident which happened one day before the Beatles broke up!JOHN LEES touches one day LENNON's guitar at Abbey Road and....damnation! no more Beatles! The lyrics are kind of awkward, i mean singing ''the producer was Norman Smith who'd engineered with the Beatles and John....''. Those are comments worth more for a story telling in front of the fireplace than placed in a song, i think! But this is JOHN LEES, nothing new with that as he likes to share with us his personal stories.

ORIGIN EARTH and especially IF LOVE IS KING, if not very original are pleasant mid-tempo ballads beautifully sung and played.IF LOVE IS KING reminds me a lot of the PINK FLOYD of this time led by GILMOUR, especially the nice athmospherique guitar solo that ends the song.

What about LES HOLROYD now? Is there some kind of songwriting improvement after so many dull compositions he ''offered'' us the last decade? Yes and no!! No because we still have all those uniform sugary ballads which are difficult to separate from each other. WHERE DO WE GO or SHADOW ON THE SKY are perfect examples of this enduring problem! 80s CHICAGO anyone?? But there is 1 big good point about HOLROYD's work! The bassist just remembered he was still playing in a band and is not just bringing his solo songs to be shared with LEES ones under the BJH flag. So, if a lot of them are still structured around synths and other keyboards, the presence of JOHN LEES and his guitar is finally felt throughout. The title track benefits a lot of this partnership which sounds like a group effort. The same goes for the opener THE LIFE YOU LEAD, another electro pop tune the kind like WAITING ON THE BORDERLINE or other LOVE ON THE LINE but at least sound improved ( a little bit) thanks to John's guitar.

Of course, Holroyd songs as i said, still sound the same,kind of generic tunes with not much personality, but at least don't destroy the flow of this record as it is a group effort finally! So which one of FACE TO FACE or WELCOME TO THE SHOW is the best? FACE TO FACE has better songs, but sounds like 2 solo artists sharing the same space, going from one height to the low song after song because of HOLROYD weak tracks (except KIEV). WELCOME TO THE SHOW on the other hand sounds more even, you don't need to have the remote in your hand to skip the next one as it's an overall listenable pleasure, but the songwriting is not as strong (i am talking about John Lees songs of course) as the great tunes featured on FACE TO FACE.

Last point: BJH albums were always well produced with great sound quality, but they outdid themselves on this record. I don't know of too many albums sounding so good. A pleasure for the ears!.The voice of JOHN LEES sounds so pure , so clear, it's amazing! Also the synths if they are still present start to sound better than on the previous albums. I guess we were entering the 90s !! No!WELCOME TO THE SHOW is not a return to the glorious 70s!However this is a good quality album from a mature band living in 1990!

3 STARS.

febus | 3/5 |

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