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Barclay James  Harvest - Octoberon CD (album) cover

OCTOBERON

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.75 | 171 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Of all BJH albums, "Octoberon" is my favorite ones. By now the band had already made their statement and signature quite clear in the world of art rock, so everything you hear in this album will stay deeply related to previous and later albums during the BJH's golden era. 'The World Goes On' is a beautiful, introspective ballad that shows Holroyd's taste for soft melodic lines and a simplistic use of melancholic moods: the orchestral arrangements stay well arrayed in the background so they don't dominate the song's general ambience. 'May Day' is the first Lees-penned song here, a bit more uplifting than its predecessor in spirit, although with an identical tempo. The organ chords appear subtly featured during the choruses, which provides a feel of constrained strength. The same goes for the brief synth-and-guitar interlude, although I must add that it perhaps should have been more developed before the following sung section, since it suggests the emergence of a middle climax that eventually stays way behind, like a fantasy unremembered. The final choral section, on the other hand, is amazing and majestic. 'Ra' is arguably the most accomplished Wostenholme composition ever. Its opening motif, later reprised in the coda, shows a perfect dialogue between the synth and the orchestra while the remaining band players keep a tight dynamics for the track. In between, a slow sung section that bears some sort of resemblance to the introspective side of vintage Pink Floyd - Lee's slide guitar effects sure help to create this impression. This is one of the absolute highlights of BJH's entire career, and definitely, an undisputed peak for this particular album. The second half of the album is less impressive, but it also has valuable musical merits within the BJH standards. 'Rock'n'Roll Star' is a mid-tempo rocker, one of many written by Holroyd. Nice and clean, with pretty string synthesizer layers in the background and a Clapton- like solo sharply done by Lees. 'Polk Street Rag' sounds like a pop-rock version of classic The Who, neatly adorned by occasional synthesizer orchestrations and a very good guitar lead that makes its way playfully onto the fade-out. 'Believe in Me' is a country- rock number that includes elegant vocal harmonies: it starts mid-tempo and later on, slows down. 'Suicide?' is an emotionally charged Lees song that sets yet another example of BJH's sense of moderate bombast: it is this very sense that helps the band to develop a potential average ballad into a solid power ballad. The explicit finale gives a cinematographic closure to the album. "Octoberon" is a very interesting item that should be highly appreciated by lovers of plain melodic art rock.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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