Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Barclay James  Harvest - BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Nexus CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.01 | 43 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Out go Les and Mel, back comes Woolly

"Nexus" is actually by "Barclay James Harvest through the eyes of John Lees", reflecting the fact that he and Les Holroyd are now sharing joint custody of the BJH name, while going their separate ways. Lees is joined by former band member Woolly Woolstenholme, whose was notably absent from their disappointing albums released immediately prior to this one. Prior to his untimely death, drummer Mel Prichard on the other hand, chose to join Holroyd's version of the band. The line up here is completed by Kevin Whitehead and Craig Fiescher.

Nexus is a mixture of new material and reworkings of old BJH tracks such as "Titles", "Hymn" and (inevitably) "Mocking bird". I can only assume that their record label demanded that some songs already familiar to fans of BJH be included in an effort to stimulate sales.

Taking the reworkings first, these are different enough from the originals to make them worthwhile. Most are slowed down slightly, with sparser instrumentation. "Mocking bird" is probably the best of these. Lees and Woolstenholme alternate on the lead vocals, dueting on some passages. Given the lack of opportunity Woolstenholme was given to sing in the originally line up, his vocals contributions are surprisingly frequent here. The main instrumental break, while familiar, also has some excellent and imaginative variations. The track is preceded by a brief symphonic introduction called "Hors d'ouvre". While this piece sounds orchestral, there is no mention of an orchestra being used. Presumably, therefore it is Woolstenholme who recreates the sound on keyboards. (The sleeve notes include a comment to the effect that "All extraneous noises supplied by real people playing live".)

The other notable reworking is "Titles", the collage of Beatles song names which originally appeared on the "Time honoured ghosts" album. Here, a new verse is added, together with a "Let it be" style guitar break and an a-cappella ending which features Oasis' "Wonderwall".

The other revivals are: "Loving is easy", which becomes almost funky with some nice guitar. "Hymn", which while sparser has a big sound and some good guitar. Sarah Pickering is listed as contributing vocals here, but they are not easy to spot being well back in the mix, behind Lees' lead. "The iron maiden" which is pretty faithful to the "Barclay James Harvest" (first album) original.

The writing of the new tracks is credited to Lees/Woolstenholme throughout. Given the significant differences in the styles of the two, it is easy enough to spot who is actually the main writer for most of the time. The opening track, "Festival" is clearly a Lees effort, being an upbeat song full of reflective and nostalgic references, and a number of irritating "private jokes". The time changes and fairground instrumental offer a more progressive feel than the direction the band had taken of late, although this is only carried through occasionally on other tracks.

"Float" and "Star bright" are softer songs, which while melodic, have an almost depressive feel. The former is similar to Woolstenholme's occasional offerings on their early albums, with symphonic sounds, and some pleasant guitar. The lyrics of the latter belie the lullaby feel, the track closing with a commendable symphonic section.

Other tracks such as "Brave new world", "Sitting upon a shelf" and "The devils that I keep" are well performed, but largely undistinguished.

"Nexus" represents BJH's strongest album for some years, the return of Woolly Woolstenholme compensating well for Les Holroyd's absence. John Lees guitar work is as ever excellent, and while it is heard throughout the album, it would have been better had he developed some of his solos further. The disappointing "River of dreams" album was clearly a watershed in the history of the band, and the line up upheaval which followed appears to have provided Lees at least with the stimulus needed.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password


Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives