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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest Turn Of The Tide album cover
2.60 | 118 ratings | 14 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Waiting On The Borderline (3:41)
2. How Do You Feel Now? (4:47)
3. Back To The Wall (5:08)
4. Highway For Fools (3:12)
5. Echoes And Shadows (4:59)
6. Death Of A City (3:47)
7. I'm Like A Train (5:23)
8. Doctor Doctor (5:35)
9. Life Is For Living (3:38)
10. In Memory Of The Martyrs (7:56)

Total Time: 48:06

Bonus tracks on 2013 remaster:
11. Shades Of B Hill (B-side) (4:12)
12. Life Is For Living (A-side) (3:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Les Holroyd / bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion

- Kevin McAlea / keyboards
- Colin Browne / keyboards, guitar, bass, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Alwyn Clayden with Bob Carlos Clarke (photo)

LP Polydor - POLD 5040 (1981, UK)

CD Polydor ‎- 800 013-2 (1983, Germany)
CD Esoteric - ECLEC 2371 (2013, Europe) 24-bit remaster by Paschal Byrne with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Turn Of The Tide ratings distribution

(118 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Turn Of The Tide reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars When this album was released in 1981, I went with a few friends to a BJH concert in The Hague. It was completely sold out although BJH was a band that was hardly on the Dutch radio. I enjoyed the concert but I was wondering which one of the two keyboardplayers was Woolly Wolstenholme. Later I discovered that he had left the band, goodbey Mr. Mellotron! On this album I miss his wonderful Mellotron-drenched sound but the two keyboardplayers do a decent job with a varied and modern sound. But this is not the BJH I like, the songs sound too polished and are too short (I prefer long compositions that carries me away), only two tracks are clocking above the 5 minutes. It's a tasteful album but far away from the compelling Seventies sound that BJH delivered, the music has turned from moving progressive rock into pleasant, melodic pop with progressive tendencies. No less and more.
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the 3-piece BJH's first digital recording and the first to include stalwart Colin Browne. It is not one of their best! Most of the album passes untroubled by excessive displays of inspiration or any serious attempt to escape a cosy warm cocoon of easy-listening soft-rock/pop mediocrity. The sound is rather brittle with a false high-end sheen typical of early digital recordings, and this is the last on which Les's voice is not swallowed by great swathes of reverb or echo like on later releases. Here he sounds much more direct - front room rather than Albert Hall - and all the better for it.

Of the first seven songs little of exceptional merit stands-out: John's songs do at least feature guitars amongst synths, unlike Les's which are almost exclusively keyboard dominated, but none would overly trouble a compiler of a 'best of' especially on a Prog site! Pickings are slim: How Do You Feel Now has soppy romantic lyrics but a nice orchestrated arrangement; Highway For Fools is a more aggressive rocker with multi-tracked guitars; the atmospheric Echoes And Shadows is one of Les's better 'drifting' songs like Play To The World; doom-laden Death Of A City conjures up Armaggedon with an airy rockist arrangement; Waiting On The Borderline, Back To The Wall and I'm Like A Train are pleasant and bouncy but otherwise undistinguished.

The final three tracks save the day, simply for being different. Doctor Doctor has a clever arrangement illustrating a song about depression and the natural drug of 'love'. It is lively enough, and features a fine progressing melody structure, but the stuttery main accompaniment becomes laboured and overstated with insufficient movement. By contrast, Life Is For Living is an easy, free-flowing, lightweight, throwaway pop confection that somehow became a perennial crowd favourite, presumably because it is easy to sing along to. Nice arrangement though!

In Memory Of The Martyrs is the real gem here, a stately mid-paced ballad reflecting in poetic terms on the many people who died attempting to cross the Berlin Wall when the grass really was greener on the other side. Beginning with a synth solo outlining the principal melody, the scene is soon set by various synth motifs interplaying with lovely massed acoustic guitars creating an emotional mood similar to old favourite Hymn.

Overall, Turn Of The Tide is something of a low point for the band in general [despite, or perhaps because of, enjoying commercial success at last], and not one to be recommended to the casual Prog buyer. It's professional, it's polished, but while nothing can be considered offensively poor, there is simply too little to get the pulse racing.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Jumping tracks

Worth buying for the last track "In memory of the martyrs" alone, "Turn of the tide" is otherwise a fairly average, going through the motions affair. The band were by now firmly established as a trio using session musicians to fill the keyboards slot vacated by Wooly. Thus the keyboard sounds here are very synthetic and eighties.

In another sign of the growing tensions between Lees and Holroyd, the writing and singing of the tracks alternates from start to finish. Lees' compositions are generally the stronger, but it is frustrating to think how much better the album might have been had the two been able to write together.

After the nondescript pop rock of "Waiting on the borderline", Lees first contribution is a delicate piano based number inspired by the birth of his daughter in 1980. The lyrics are typical of Lees literal approach and thus rather cheesy, but the strong melody and delightful sax (unaccredited) make for an enjoyable listen.

The shift of the band's fan base to continental Europe is reflected in a couple of tracks, the first being Holroyd's "Back to the wall", whose lyrics also provide the album title. "Highway for fools" appears to find John Lees venting his frustrations with the way the band is going, with lyrics such as "I got to go, cause you ain't the way that I feel" and "I know what I like and I ain't looking at you". The message may be veiled, but the sentiments are clear. Unfortunately, the track itself is totally forgettable. The same can be said for other obvious attempts to find a hit single such as "Death of a city" (a song which the band had started working on in 1968!) and "Life is for living" which did in fact secure top 5 single status in Germany and Switzerland. Lees reveals more of his general demeanour on "Doctor doctor", although the track is strangely offbeat and rather 10CC (post Godley and Crème) like.

Holroyd's best composition on the album is "Echoes and shadows", a reasonable ballad spoiled by the keyboard sounds. The bizarrely named "I'm like a train" ("I'm like a train that's jumping the track") starts off as another ballad before veering off into a whimsical jaunty section, with multi-part harmonies. It is understandable that Mel Prichard allowed his contribution to the lyrics remain unaccredited here. Indeed, jumping the tracks is a reasonable directive for this album, in order to seek out those worth hearing.

"In memory of the martyrs" (and "Life is for living") was written specifically for the Berlin concerts. The song is about those who lost their lives trying to leave East Germany via the Berlin wall. There are strong similarities with "Hymn" from "Gone to earth" in the acoustic guitar and vocal opening, and the building melody. A fine, slightly understated track with real underlying power.

There's no denying that "Turn of the tide" was a successful album in terms of sales in Europe. This was due in no small part to the Berlin concerts, and the success of the single "Life is for living". The album was though all but ignored in the band's homeland, where the memories of BJH's previous achievements perhaps created different expectations. While there are one or two fine songs here, "Turn of the tide" is a poor album by BJH standards.

Review by ZowieZiggy

Their previous album "Eyes Of The Universe was a pure nightmare of uninspired songs. Can BJH revert to something better ?

I am afraid that it is not with this totally useless work that they will do so. Very poor music almost all the way throug. Pop/disco/AOR flavour. Do you like them ? I don't. Their magnificent compositions full of emotions and melody : all gone. Did you say prog ? Forget it !

Just a bunch of very poor numbers like "Back to the Wall" (slow disco beat), "Highway For Fools" and "Death Of A City" (another attempts of rock songs). "I'm Like a Train" is a boring and repetitive track and "Doctor Doctor" is on par. Insipid and tasteless.

A song as "Life Is for Living" is a rip off from "Cecilia" from Simon & Garfunkel.

As in their previous release, there will be some bearable tracks of which "Echoes and Shadows" and "In Memory of the Martyrs", but this is of course far enough to make a decent album.

At this time of their career, I'm not sure I will have the strenght to go on and review their whole catalogue (like I use to do for each band I have reviewed so far). One star of course.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I don't know of any band or artist with a long musical career who always has delivered on a constant basis great albums after great albums. Everybody gets tired at one point and sometimes even the greatest musicians experienced a creative slump, or worse they lost it completely. (No names, here!). BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST won't be the exception. Starting with TURN OF THE TIDE ,then with their next 2 studio albums , BJH too will reach the lowest point of their artistic career.

However, this lack of inspiration won't prevent BJH to reach relative stardom as this album TURN OF THE TIDE would be their best selling album to date. Everything has been planned to make this album a success. The 80s synths are all over the place, the sound is well polished and a lot of songs are definitely radio-friendly oriented. If you are looking for prog influences, try somewhere else. This is BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST for the easy listening/soft rock crowd!!

The main culprit is once again LES HOLROYD who has no shame coming up with plain synth-pop songs just waiting for a spot in the juke box. They are cheesy, completely predictable, all plastic, nothing organic! Welcome to WAITING ON THE BORDERLINE. BACK TO THE WALL or other I AM LIKE A TRAIN (!!!!). Enjoy 80s Holroyd! Definitely not your JONATHAN or SHE SAID Holroyd of the past!

ECHOES AND SHADOWS is his best contribution to this album as it is a nice ballad reminiscent of the good old times. LIFE IS LIVING which sounds like coming from a SIMON & GARFUNKEL album would be the ''hit'' of the album with some kind of easy chorus the whole crowd can sing along with the band in concert. Not complicated, but not bad.But it made good money for the band.

JOHN LEES on his side, fears a little bit better than his partner, but only by a slight margin.At least, his songs sound like a band effort, not like computerized processed synth food from HOLROYD. Listening to LEES songs, at least i feel i am hearing BJH. It doesn't mean that his 5 contributions are masterpieces either, but some are good like HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW,a typical LEES ballad ,great voice, great melody, BJH to keep it short.His 8mns IN MEMORY OF THE MARTYRS is another typical strong political message from John with a nice musical build-up in the same style of HYMN. The best track of the album and so far the most ''sophisticated'' song (i won't say prog)

Sadly, there are other turkeys like DOCTOR, DOCTOR or HYGHWAY FOR FOOLS that drowned the album; Not that it is bad, these tracks are rather insipid, colorless. DEATH OF A CITY is not too bad for a LEES rocker, for once!

Definitely not the album to start with BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST if you are new to the band; go with everything from the 70s first like EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE, TIME HONOURED GHOSTS or LIVE TAPES.

TURN OF THE TIDE is for the fans only, the ones like me who bought all their output, stiill purchased this one waiting for better days. And we had to wait for a while!


Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Continuing on the course hatched years before but honed to a fine art on "Eyes of the Universe", "Turn of the Tide" is a work of two artists working separately, pooled together to produce nary a semblance of teamwork.

In this particular incarnation, the songs of Holroyd are the more interesting, displaying an early 80s pop sensibility with a hint of the mellower aspects of post-Hackett Genesis. Try as I might, I simply cannot dislike tunes like "Waiting on the Borderline", "Back to the Wall" (even if both lead and accompanying vocals are one and the same Holroyd fellow), and "Echoes and Shadows". Even "Love is for Living" was a fairly good pop hit taken as such. Sure, he seems to have reduced the need for electric guitar in order to avoid having to thank his "partner" for anything. His "I'm Like a Train" tries to revive the CSN inspired BJH but with limited success. In general I approve of the mellow vibe of these tunes as I think it suits the band alot better, even if it is very much of its time.

But Mr Lees' contributions are largely a detriment to the disk. Both "How do you feel Now" and "In Memory of the Martyrs" are decent but ultimately without the excitement that could have made them so much better, and in fact contain the blueprints of earlier successes without the follow through. "Highway for Fools" and "Death of a City" are both ham handed hard rock efforts, although Doctor Doctor is actually a pretty respectable blend of the old and new (think "Loving is Easy" meets "Streets of San Francisco") and his best effort of the album.

A slight improvement on its predecessor, "Turn of the Tide" is more like a parting of the tide for BJH, into the Holroyd and Lees factions, never to regroup. 2.5 stars rounded up.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Waiting of the borderline (between the decent and the mediocre)

Barclay James Harvest continues here to make decent Soft Rock/Pop music with Turn Of The Tide. Some claim that the Prog-tendencies disappeared with Woolly Wolstenholme, but I think (1) Barclay James Harvest were never very progressive in the first place and (2) that there is some, albeit minimal, light Prog, or at least semi-Prog, still here. It is rapidly declining, however, and a couple of further albums down the road whatever Prog there ever was in these guys would evaporate.

The present album consists mostly of mid-tempo Pop songs that sound pretty much the same. The only song here that deserves special mention is the closer In Memory Of The Martyrs. You should not expect too much from this song in terms of Prog though, but it is quite good. As implied there is little that stands out here, but there is also not much to annoy me this time! There is usually one or two songs on every Barclay James Harvest album that are awful to the point of being unlistenable and Turn Of The Tide is no exception. There is a really awful song in Doctor, Doctor. Life Is For Living became something of a hit for the band and this is also not very good, but not strictly awful either.

In Memory Of The Martyrs and a few other decent moments save this album from a one star rating. Only for fans and collectors this one, approach with much caution.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars Honestly none of the 80s Barclay James Harvest albums are very good, but 'Turn of the Tide' may be the most boring in terms of musical exploration and thematic content. There's just not much here to get excited about.

Les Holroyd and John Lees seems to have settled into something of a formula for cranking out records since 1978's 'XII' and Woolly Wolstenholme's departure. On 'Eyes of the Universe' and this record, as well as 'Ring of Changes' and 'Victims of Circumstance' the two of them split songwriting duties evenly. 'Eyes' and this album both open with a Holroyd tortured love song followed by sappy, idealistic John Lees composition, in this case "How Do You Feel Now?" about the birth of his daughter and delivered with simple but effective piano and synthesized strings. The third song on both albums is also a Holroyd composition and both of them are about playing music live. This one, "Back to the Wall" speaks of playing in the shadow of the Berlin Wall in the years leading up to its collapse. "In Memory of the Martyrs" is a Lees tune that also speaks to the specter of The Wall.

And the similarities don't stop there. Both albums include a Lees composition mildly cynical of the music industry, "Sperratus" on 'Eyes' and "Highway for Fools" here. Lees adds another of his many autobiographical songs with "Doctor Doctor" which speaks in awkward and rather uncomfortable terms about dealing with depression.

The rest of the album is decent, but none of the songs here are particularly memorable and few of them are mentioned when considering the band's most notable works other than "Life is for Living" which is pretty upbeat and is distinguished by an almost calypso feel thanks to stilted keyboards and an almost danceable rhythm.

This certainly isn't among the more memorable BJH albums, and while it was quite popular in Germany thanks to the Berlin-themed songs the album didn't do well in other markets and perhaps signaled a waning popularity and creative spark for the band.

If this were a debut album by a neophyte band I might be persuaded to rate it at three stars since the production (once again by Martin Lawrence) is competent and fits the mood and style of its day. But this is Barclay James Harvest, and for them the bar is somewhat higher. So two stars it is. I'd recommend this for serious fans of the band, but I suspect most of them already own it. For anyone else I'd rather point them to the band's much more reaching and creative seventies works. These are more representative of what made this band great once.


Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Actually I am not a big fan or follower of the band. I know very well that BJH was well known in their 70s albums. This album came out in the form of cassette in my country so I just purchased it and not quite sure about its quality as one of the musician left the band. I remember vividly their Berlin concert that was famous at that time. Turn of the Tide ranks not quite strong with their best work featuring some songs from both John Lees and Les Holroyd. The sound is very different to their earlier work, being less guitar work even though there are many synthesizer works as a sort of replacement for the mellotron, the defining aspect of the BJH traditional sound. For me personally I like 'Highway for Fools' track even though some consider 'Life is for Living' as probably the best known track here and is typical of the bands well written, pop influenced 80s style, even though other highlights include 'Back to the Wall', 'Death Of A City' and the moving 'In Memory of The Martyrs'. The normal BJH work of including songs by Holroyd and Lees, with each singing their own, continues here and helps to provide variety throughout the album. Both are excellent singers with Holroyd offering a good flavour. The only thing is probably the missing memorable melody this album has as everything sounds flat to me. I know it's not a bad album but unfortunately is not that good overall and tends to make me bored listening the whole album.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by lazland
2 stars The 1980's had arrived, Woolly had left, kaftan in tow, obviously rather peeved at the direction being taken by the band, and, indeed, with the two replacements on keyboards there is an indisputable eighties feel to proceedings, not that I think there is anything inherently wrong with that, and it certainly did absolutely no harm to record sales in continental Europe, Germany especially on the back of the Berlin concerts, whilst being virtually completely ignored back in dear old Blighty.

Of this series of albums, I prefer the successor, Ring of Changes, but there is still enough to keep fans of the band interested here, although this album marked, for me, the beginning of the end between the two main writers, Lees and Holroyd, who, a la Davies and Hodgson, were now writing completely separately, giving rise to the feel of two acts making one album. Who you prefer is obviously a matter of individual taste. Actually, both can stray into blandness too often for comfort, Back to the Wall being perhaps the stick out example for Holroyd, whilst Death of a City is a rather feeble attempt at a Lees rocking track.

Holroyd does, though, fully redeem himself with the gorgeous ballad Echoes and Shadows, which has a full, rich vocal, amply supported by lush keys. It is, perhaps, this type of track which many find objectionable, but I find just a lovely listening experience. In addition, Life is for Living was a big hit single in Europe, and is a very decent BJH pop track.

As regards Lees, his best are saved until the last two, with the quirky Doctor, Doctor, which has some very intricate grooves and ideas at its heart, and In Memory of the Martyrs, dedicated to those who perished attempting to cross from East to West Berlin. Rich, with lush guitars and symphonic backing keys, full of feeling and sympathy for its subject, and lavishly produced, this is my favourite track of the album, and certainly the closest it came to rather more "traditional" prog. As a fan of the band, this track made it worth the price of the album on its own.

It is difficult to rate an album such as this. I like BJH, and I have never objected to commercial prog rock, and, in fairness, this lot were always master exponents of the "lighter" end of the prog spectrum. There are some very good highlights, but, unfortunately, too much of it is rather forgettable. Pleasant, but unremarkable, and, therefore, in terms of this band's long history, it is not amongst their best, and I would suggest that only completists who have to own all of their work would be recommended to shell out their hard earned cash to own it. Two stars, therefore, but an extra half in reality.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Turn of the Tide" is BJH's second album following the departure of founding member Woolly Wolstenholme in 1979. Woolly was one of three writers in the band, with leanings towards classical music, and had brought that influence to bear on BJH's sound, particularly on their first four albums. B ... (read more)

Report this review (#95382) | Posted by alextorres | Sunday, October 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars So they had a hit in 1980 to propel the album... and the hit was POP... making you wonder what "Turn of the Tide" would be about. It took me some years to forgive "Life is for living", another few to start diggin' it and another few to even love it... my first impression was "With WOOLLY... TH ... (read more)

Report this review (#67163) | Posted by rupert | Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars In eighteen years BJH are more sucess more then seventies years. Because of this the music are more acessible and the magic of the past is gone. In "Turn of The Tide" the band made a album from the market of melodic and AOR rock. Sometimes the music sounds like BJH in the past: the John Lee's ... (read more)

Report this review (#22685) | Posted by | Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was looking for words that could describe the most beautiful love song ever sung... But words fail me, so I decided to provide the lyrics and let the reader decide... The music that carries these lyrics will take you away forever... If you are in love, this is THE SONG you need to dedicate to your ... (read more)

Report this review (#22684) | Posted by | Thursday, February 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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