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Barclay James  Harvest - Face To Face CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.55 | 72 ratings

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3 stars Not so long ago, on another web site, I found myself voting for Face To Face as my favourite of BJH's post-Woolly post-Prog catalogue. What was I thinking!?! I must have had my Mr. Dumb head on that day because, while it is an improvement over Victims Of Circumstance, it falls well short of several others. Big disappointment are the lyrics - no less than eight of the twelve songs are love-songs! Adult issues of course, and various aspects are explored, but a love song is still a love song no matter how you look at it.

Of Les's six contributions, only the sublime Kiev, written for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is not a love song. It is by far his stand-out song, a soaring vocal over a flowing chord structure played by synth strings held in tension by the bass. The rest are generic Les without a great deal of inspiration. Sorry, but we've heard it all before and those cheesy dated keyboards don't help. John's songs are better, including He Said Love which documents the life of Jesus in a satisfying son-of-Hymn arrangement topped by a rousing chorus.

The two best songs on the album are both John's. African is a song about the apartheid regime then current in South Africa and its effect on people's lives. It is a powerful lyric supported by a suitably powerful arrangement, John delivering an unusually forceful and aggressive vocal and angry guitar solo. Guitar Blues is ostensibly a love song constructed around a beautiful pastoral melody backed by string pads and acoustic guitars, it builds a mood through the line "now I stand alone with my guitar and play" into a relaxed instrumental break with a lovely guitar solo.

Those four songs stand head and shoulders above the others and all would be candidates for a 'Best Of' compilation, though none exude any progginess. Alone In The night is the nearest thing to Prog but isn't very good and really needs a Mellotron to do it justice. Fans of BJH's later material will find something to like on this album, but otherwise better album's exist for the less committed buyer.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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