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Barclay James  Harvest - XII CD (album) cover

XII

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 145 ratings

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mickcoxinha
3 stars XII is considered by many the last of the classic BJH albums because it is the last with the original lineup; Woolly Wolstenholme would leave after that and the sound would become more and more commercial. For me, it is the last good BJH album, but it is already showing the sign of the times: songs stripped down to simpler arrangements with AOR production are in a considerable number. It is one of the reasons often mentioned when talking about Wolstenholme departure, and his departure would make the band go straight to AOR rock.

Since the first song, you can realize something has changed. Fantasy: Loving Is Easy is a straightforward rock song typical from late 70s, retaining a bit of organ and synthesizer sounds. In this category, we can put Classics: A Tale Of Two Sixties, Turning in Circles, Sip of Wine. Some of these songs have a interesting solo here and there, but mostly straightforward rock. There are also two ballads, Harbour and Giving it Up, mostly in the same vein (late 70s ballads). The only remarkable aspect of them is that their arrangements are a bit more interesting than the "rockers".

As for something different, there is Fact: The Closed Shop, which leans a bit on the folkish sound with flutes, but still contains much of the sounds and production that don't allow it to be much different from the rest. Fiction: The Streets Of San Francisco is interesting in having some american folkish flavor, including harmonica and harmony singing that reminds me a bit of Simon & Garfunkel. It is the best of all the songs already mentioned.

But there is also some lost gems among these ones: Berlin is a great ballad with great arrangements that give a great mood to the song as it progresses.. In Search of England is a beautiful song that evokes some of their best moments in the previous albums (would fit perfectly in Octoberon), with great guitar and keyboard work, and the best sample of traditional BJH symphonic sound along with Science Fiction: Nova Lepidoptera, which is probably the most "progressive" song of the album (which is not much in this case), and retains a great symphonic feel coupled with a subtle, but interesting use of synthesizers.

3 stars because it is still a good album, but BJH was taking great leaps towards the straightforward pop/rock and AOR, so there are many weak songs among the good ones.

mickcoxinha | 3/5 |

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