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Barclay James  Harvest - Ring Of Changes CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.68 | 78 ratings

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Theo Verstrael
3 stars 'Ring of changes' is an album that attracks me and makes me a bit angry at the same time. The attractiveness lies almost entirely in the Lees' compositions, albeit that 'Just a day away'' certainly not ranks amongst his strongest renditions. But compared to the songs Les Holroyd delivered for the album it was not too hard to produce a listenable one. 'Fifties child' is a very nice opener, with an orchestral intro, acoustic guitar chords jumping in and a very Westcoast feeling throughout the song. It illustrates Lees' affection for bands like The Eagles, Love and CSN&Y. The song has also a quite positive vibe, making you wondering why BJH looks at the world from the bright side (since they have not shown themselves too often as real optimistic, happy people). Maybe it is also because of the total different 'feel' that the next song, 'Looking from the outside' is such a disappoinment. It is dull, nothing reslly happens, it is dominantly driven by poppy keyboards while a guitar sound is completely absent. 'Teenage heart' is another Lees' song with a distinctive Westcoast-feeling. It has a simple melody and it is in a way quite dull too, as if the composer didn't know how to proceed. Still it is a better listen than the previous song. 'High wire' is synth-pop at its best. Unfortunately it sounds cheap, doesn't have a exciting melody or solo and should be forgotten immediately. 'Midnight drug' is, surprisingly, also dominated by synths although it was written by guitarist John Lees. The theme of the lyrics has occurred regularly in Lees' work and is very sympathetic to me but yet I don't like the song. It lacks a warm sound, it is too poppy, actually it should have been performed by A- Ha or the likes. 'Waiting for the right time' is another rather dull Holroyd-song. It drags on for almost 6 minutes but nothing happens. No soloing, no interesting breaks, no change of melody, it just drags on. 'Just a day away' is nice and cheerfull but it is far from essential. Again it is not a typical BJH-song at all. On the other hand, if it had been succesfull as a single (and it certainly had that potential) we would probably have judged it otherwise. In that respect it could have served for BJH as 'Follow you, follow me' did for Genesis. But BJH was not a lucky band when it comes to hit singles. And frankly, they didn't need one. The last two songs are the best of the album. Actually, 'Paraiso dos Cavalos' is John Lees at his best. It has a beautiful melody, a bit melancholic, with a stunning intro where acoustic guitar and hobo/keyboard set the stage for a story about a Spanish horse farm where Lees (with his and Holroyds family, as a matter of fact) spent some time and enjoyed it very much. The song is very strong in melody, has a good break with very intense vocals in the middle after which the main melody is picked up again. No soloing, alas, it could have had a coda as Lees played on numerous other BJH songs.' The title track is the only Holroyd song I like. It has a good melody, with a very repetitive chorus that sticks into your head immediately and works well. The overall atmosphere of the song is not much different from his other compositions but in this song it simply works well. Probably more attention was pais to this one as it was the title track, probably it was just a matter of a creative outburst.

The two last songs don't save the album as a whole. It is enjoyable but far from necessary. It is certainly not a good one to start to get to know BJH. This one ranks amongst their weakest and is therefore for collectors. Because of 'Paraiso dos cavalos' and the title track I give it 2,5 stars.

Theo Verstrael | 3/5 |


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