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Barclay James  Harvest - BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Nexus CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.01 | 43 ratings

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4 stars Nexus, the first album from the John Lees version of BJH [JLBJH], was something of a return to roots both in style and method though Lees was constrained by his record company's insistence on incorporating several old standards in a re-worked form. Moods range from the blockbuster opening of Festival, which has a wonderful little organ sequence around the "ticking of the clock" vocal and reminds me somewhat of Renaissance's Trip To The Fair, to the oh-so-languid closer Star Bright with a space-scape keyboard backdrop as John's guitar reaches for the heavens.

All the new songs are good, but I should pick out the orchestrated effects of Float and The Devils That I Keep which juxtaposes a jaunty tune with lyrics depicting hopeless despair. The re-hashed classics are arguably less successful and more controversial. For me, The Iron Maiden works well, Mocking Bird is good and I now prefer it to the original [but I seem to be in a seriously small minority here!], Hymn is a radical new arrangement which takes some getting used to, while Titles and Loving Is Easy are taken a little too slowly for my taste.

Nexus is hugely underrated even by BJH fans and deserves to be heard much more, in my opinion. Irrespective that it was recorded 30 years after the band's formation and long after they last did anything remotely progressive or adventurous, it contains some very high quality material indeed, some of it old-school melodic Prog. Could it be significant that this project saw the re-emergence of former BJH keysman and Mellotron tickler extraordinaire Woolly Wolstenholme from musical exile? Certainly, his influence cannot be doubted, and at times the album has his character crawling all over it.

Not too long ago I dismissed Nexus, as many others continue to do, for being far too disjointed, but having made a greater effort to make its acquaintance I now appreciate it as an excellent return to form. Recommended.

Joolz | 4/5 |


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