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Barclay James  Harvest - Caught In The Light CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.57 | 73 ratings

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2 stars Caught In The Light is a BJH low point. Much of it passes unmemorably in a wash of lush slow ballads with sad moody lyrics and arrangements often spoiled by unsuitable sequenced instrumentation. Some songs have been pruned in length, yet at 70 minutes it is far too long with insufficient variation in material. The device of a key change to re-invigorate a flagging song is used several times, a sure sign that inspiration was in short supply.

It all starts well enough with the excellent Who Do We Think We Are from Les, with its rolling loping chord progression and doom laden lyric, but most of his contributions are formulaic Les-by-numbers, lush slow ballads which drone on endlessly despite some excellent emotional lyrics [lose a brownie point for yet another use of the metaphor 'silver wings']. His final contribution, It's A Matter Of Time, redresses the balance a little: still slow, but it builds into a very 70s sounding stately anthem, with some wonderful soaring guitars and background churchy organ but runs out of steam with over-repetition of the title phrase.

John's contributions are typically patchier, including the much maligned Spud-U-Like with its deliberate parody of synth-pop songs in an ironic arrangement, and the John-does-Les tedious ballads The Ballad Of Denshaw Mill and Forever Yesterday with some poor clanking piano. Once again, his lyrics are excellent but are let down by some very average music. The exception is the laid back Once More, a re-write of their classic Mocking Bird which is really rather wonderful, from a gorgeous lilting chorus of "Born in the spirit of love / You took flight" to an extended guitar led coda.

This was a difficult time for BJH with both Les and John suffering personal tragedy, not helped by disagreements and dissention within the band. It is also the culmination of a developing trend whereby they worked more-or-less independently on their own songs with little or no input from the other. And it shows. The overall impression is of two solo albums unsatisfactorily shoehorned together. Not one of their best.

Joolz | 2/5 |


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