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

VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCE

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

2.27 | 84 ratings

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alextorres2
5 stars This album of Barclay James Harvest's, despite not being well liked by the band's English core fan-base, is one of my favourites of theirs. I can understand people's reticence at liking this album: when I first bought it on its release, I disliked it intensely and sold it after only a couple of airings, my reconciliation with it not occurring until some 10 years later.

What is it then that made me, and still makes other BJH fans, dislike this album so much? The answer will sound petty to most people - it's simply that the album has a commercial sound edging towards the pop-end spectrum of rock. What's worse, sin of holy sins, the band employed female backing singers to assist them with the album and the corresponding tour! Absolutely unheard of on a BJH album, either before or since "Victims.", and to many fans, as it was for me in 1984, it was a step too far.

So..true to its title, the music was never really given a fair chance to be heard.

My reconciliation happened as a result of two things.

First, I had just invested in a CD player for the first time and was looking to play some BJH music on it: the first BJH CD that I bought was a compilation called "Alone We Fly" and one of the songs that I loved on it, "Sideshow" I initially thought I hadn't heard before. I had - it was taken from "Victims.".

Second, about the same time I also purchased a video of the band recorded live on the Victims of Circumstance tour - again, there were a few songs in the set-list that I loved and thought hadn't heard before: "Rebel Woman", "For Your Love" and "Victims of Circumstance" itself. Of course, that last was the clue that these are all songs from the maligned album.

These two experiences taught me that I had clearly not given it a fair opportunity in 1984 and so I sought the album out again, buying it for the second time.

I have loved it ever since: the songs that I've already mentioned deserve to be ranked amongst the band's very best. "Sideshow", a strong John Lees song about the power of the media to skew reality is given a golden edge with Les Holroyd taking over the vocals for the last verse; the juxtaposition of their voices has always benefited the few songs in the repertoire where it occurs. "Rebel Woman" has a great guitar riff overlying it, "Victims of Circumstance", a Les Holroyd song about injustices perpetrated by politicians on behalf of the populace, that he was inspired to write by hearing the "victims of circumstance" lyric on John's "Rebel Woman" song, has a classic BJH-feel to it whereas "For Your Love", with its "let it shine" refrain in its last phase is anthemic.

The remaining five songs do not come up to the same standard but Pip Williams's production manages to tie the whole together such that even the out-and-out pop of "Say You'll Stay", "Watching You" and "Inside My Nightmare" feels as though it belongs on this album, making the whole a very enjoyable listen.

Unfortunately, its low standing with the core fan-base means that it has not yet been re-released and is currently unavailable as a CD. However, broadband users can still obtain it via download from such sites as War Child Music.

I am giving it 5 stars...yes, despite its lack of a "progressive" rock feel because, despite the fact I have not always scored this way on this site, I have come to the conclusion that if a band/album are listed here then i can score it based on what i think of it. The clincher for me was seeing how Blackfield are treated on here. Victims of Circumstance is to BJH what Blackfield are to Porcupine Tree, and if Blackfield can get 5s by the dozen, then so can this victim.....

alextorres2 | 5/5 |

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