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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest Victims Of Circumstance album cover
2.29 | 93 ratings | 12 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sideshow (4:56)
2. Hold On (4:26)
3. Rebel Woman (4:23)
4. Say You'll Stay (3:55)
5. For Your Love (5:31)
6. Victims Of Circumstance (6:01)
7. Inside My Nightmare (4:32)
8. Watching You (4:36)
9. I've Got A Feeling (6:03)

Total Time: 44:23

Bonus tracks on 2012 remaster :
10. Victims Of Circumstance (12'' Instrumental Version) (6:01)
11. I've Got A Feeling (12'' Single Version) (5:23)
12. Victims Of Circumstance (Single Version) (3:51)

Bonus CD from 2012 remaster - Live at Wembley Arena:
1. Rebel Woman (5:25)
2. Waiting For The Right Time (7:06)
3. I've Got A Feeling (7:06)
4. Rock N' Roll Lady (5:36)
5. Paraiso Dos Cavalos (6:28)
6. Victims Of Circumstance (6:42)
7. Life Is For Living (4:09)
8. For Your Love (8:40)
9. Poor Man's Moody Blues (7:10)
10. Child Of The Universe (7:22)
11. Hymn (5:25)

Total time 71:09

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / guitar, vocals
- Les Holroyd / bass, keyboards, vocals
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion

- Bias Boshell / Steinway grand piano, Yamaha DX7, Roland JP8 & JX3
- Frank Ricotti / percussion
- The David Katz Strings / strings
- Pip Williams / orchestral arrangements, producer
- Joy Yates / backing vocals
- Stevie Lange / backing vocals
- Vicki Brown / backing vocals
- Sam Brown / backing vocals (Live)
- Jan Ince / backing vocals (Live)
- Kevin McAlea / keyboards & sax (Live)

Releases information

Artwork: Ian Kay with Cream (design)

LP Polydor ‎- POLD 5135 (1984, UK)

CD Polydor ‎- 817 950-2 (1984, Germany)
2xCD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 22330 (2012, Europe) 24-bit remaster by Paschal Byrne with 3 bonus tracks + Bonus CD with Live at Wembley Arena, London, 13th October 1984

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Victims Of Circumstance ratings distribution

(93 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (38%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Victims Of Circumstance reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This one sounds less fluid, not very folk. I would even say that it has some new wave influences. The compositions are not really convincing. They tried a different style here and they did not really succeeded to retain fully the attention. On some songs the rythm is faster and drums too; I do not think it is well suited for their usually smooth and relax style. Definitely not their best albums; Their previous "Ring of Changes" has more their original style.
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars If music be the food of love ..... then this is an over-dressed and under-cooked turkey! While most of BJH's 1980s/1990s output is high quality soft rock AOR, like it or leave it, Victims Of Circumstance is an unfortunate diversion, a failed attempt at modernising their sound. There are some good songs trying to get out but they really struggle to make any headway against a relentless tide of new-age production, clichéd keyboards and [shock-horror] actual female backing vocals! Guitars are almost an endangered species, even bass is mostly synthetic. The effect is verging more on 80s new-wave than soft rock.

Opener Sideshow is typical of the album's malaise, a jaunty little rocker failing to make any impression against a gutless production, unsympathetic orchestral arrangement and of course those alien female voices. And, Rebel Woman is awash with Those Synths so beloved of 80s pop bands. Fine if you are The Human League or OMD, but this is supposed to be BJH, creators of such masterpieces as She Said and For No-One. And, Les-does-reggae pop song Watching You should have been entered for Eurovision! And, I've Got A Feeling is another Les-by-numbers slow ballad that we've heard so many times before [and since!]. And .... so it goes on.

None of it is bad, you understand. Taken individually, there is much to enjoy if approached with an open mind, though a million miles from Progland so it has to be rated low here. In general Victims Of Circumstance comes near the bottom of the BJH pile.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars All together now, "I crashed my car, do-do-do".

Of all the BJH albums (and there have been many), this is the one I listen to least. While a number of their albums have been relatively weak, I have still found pleasure to a greater or lesser extent in almost everything they've done. In this case though, I just find the album to be lacking in soul.

The most striking thing about the opening section of album is the prevalence of female backing vocals, immediately giving the album a lighter more pop orientated feel. Tracks such as Les Holroyd's "Hold on" become repetitive, anonymous pop rock. The opening track "Sideshow", on which both Lees and Holroyd sing lead vocal (a very rare occurrence), holds up better through the quality of the song, but I cannot help but feel the female vocals are superfluous.

"For your love" is an unashamed ballad by John, complete with a lyric clearly inviting the waving of lighters at live performances. Pip Williams (who worked with Uriah Heep in the 1990s) provides some slushy but sympathetic orchestration, while Bias Boshell, the guest keyboard player for the album, contributes some fine piano. The closing section, with more female vocals, is nicely put together. Les offers a similar ballad to close the album, but the results are more prosaic and predictable.

The album title actually comes from the lyrics of Lees "Rebel woman", which in turn inspired Holroyd to compose the track "Victims of circumstance". "Rebel woman", like Gary Moore's "Murder in the skies" was inspired by Russia shooting down a civilian aircraft over Korea, and the unforgivable death of the "victims of circumstance" on board. Holroyd picks up a similar theme with the title track which, despite the jaunty melody, deals with some serious political issues. The song reached number one in the French singles chart!

Lees' only composition on the second side of the album is the rather bizarre "Inside my nightmare". This song is about someone who kills his girlfriend by crashing his car while driving dangerously. The melody though is upbeat with a pounding rock beat. It all seems a tad inappropriate, especially with the female backing vocalists adding "Do-do- do's"!

"Victims of circumstance" demonstrates once again that Barclay James Harvest have put their prog influences firmly behind them, in favour of radio friendly pop rock. The songs are adequate, and Pip Williams has made every effort to breath every bit of life he can into them. At the end of the day though, this is a very ordinary album.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars Let's put things into prespective. I discovered BJH in 1974. I have been quite found of this band for about three years (back then). What I appreciated in their music were the incredible melodies, the great mellotron touch from Woolly and their ability to create great and emotional songs.

The last BJH albums did not really fulfill my expectations (to say the least). I just rated their last three efforts with one star. I could not be involved in their poor pop/folkish/boring stuff. Unfortunately, this album won't be anything superior. Just a collection of boring songs.

At least, BJH would release one or two (maybe three) average songs during the last seven years (after their last great album "Octoberon"). But on this one there is really nothing to be remembered. It is a very dull album. Not too long, for the sake of the reviewer...

It is impossible for me to mention at least one track that could be of interest. This is just a painful nightmare from track one through nine. Well, to be completely honest, a song like "For Your Life" could have been not that bad. But boy, it is completely ruined by the "orchestra" (a flavour of their early days) which will take on the lead during the second half of the song.

The title track is no less irritating / boring. Completely insipid and useless. This band is really a case apart. They will release almosy FORTY live / compilation / DVD's out of fifteen or so original albums. They only should have call it quit a few years ago to avoid these painful moments.

We'll even get a reaggae-ish song with "Watching You". Can you imagine BJH sounding reggae ? Awful. Period. Only the closing track will hit a little higher (but don't except too much).

This album is the worse BJH so far. It is a real bad experience to listen to this one from start to finish. One star (but this is really because no lower ratings are available).

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
2 stars VICTIMS OF THE 80s!

VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES is s difficult album for me to review and rate because, frankly it comes with personal sentimental values. See, I went this year (1984) at one of their concerts in Toulouse when BJH toured to promote this album. The concert was great! Sure, they performed a few new tracks, but most of the time they pleased us with all the good old classics. They played with a lot of energy, the performance was flawless.

It was also a very good period of my life with my then-wife who happened to like this album, especially I'VE GOT A FEELING, the last track of this album. And as we've got a lot of feelings for each other back then, VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES was a record synonym of good times and happiness. Thus it might be difficult for me to look at it with an objective eye!

Now listening to VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES makes me well aware that this was not the record of the century, not even a BJH classic.It was a wonderfully produced record, one of the first using new digital technology. VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES is more of a savvy marketing musical product than a plain rock n roll album. Everything on it is so clean, the instruments, the vocals, the production. You have music to satisfy every corner of the globe: syrupy ballads, reggae, rockers, synth-pop.But there is one thing you won't find here: the traditional old sound of BJH!

VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES would be their best selling album to date as this album charted almost everywhere in Europe. The kids who bought it back then had no idea the same band produced great music in the 70s and were definitely not interested in listening to CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE or MOONLIGHT.I guess for them the album EYES OF THE UNIVERSE was the first BJH album.

As usual, there are already 2 bands playing on this album, or better BJH can be considered as 2 solo projects working under the same roof. A bad sign is that LES HOLROYD wrote 5 out of the 9 songs featured on this record. Knowing how his songwriting has go down badly on their last albums, there is enough to be scared and with just reason. Meaning more synth-pop on your way with the ''graces''of HOLD ON or SAY YOU'LL STAY , great elevator or waiting room muzak the same kind everybody else was producing for radios and 'top of the pops' back then. Holroyd gets even very ''adventurous'' with WATCHING YOU , a synthetized reggae sure to please the new crowd. The same man that composed MOONLIGHT 10 years earlier!How lower can you go!

JOHN LEES sadly was not in great form either in 1984, only 4 songs and i would say only the opener SIDESHOW is really good with a very nice melody in the good old LEES tradition; But sadly we have also the return of LEES the rocker with REBEL WOMAN and if you have read about old reviews, you know what people think about the guitarist wanting to play ''rock''.Not for him! INSIDE MY NIGHTMARE and FOR YOUR LOVE are not bad tracks, but you already have forgotten about them when it's over.

Of course for me the most memorable track of this album is the closer, the ballad I'VE GOT A FEELING for the personal reasons i indicated above; That's nice, that's cute, a lot of syrup perfect for those romantic moments; reminds me the the big hit single ( i don't remember the name)from a band named BERLIN which was featured in the movie TOP GUN.

Beside my sentimental attachment to some parts of this album, i still shoud try to be honest and as such, i cannot give it more than 2 stars. VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCES is not an album for prog aficionados, but you still can offer it as a gift to your little sister. She will love you for that!


Review by kenethlevine
2 stars If we thought that the immediately preceding BJH albums were poppy, "Victims of Circumstance" shows that we hadn't seen anything yet. The phrase, as expressed in the title track, deals with people who suffer the consequences of world leaders' actions, but it could also applied to BJH who were victims of the worst aspects of the 80s era. But they were also beneficiaries for they realized some of their biggest commercial successes during this time. It was therefore not surprising that the downward spiral continued.

Like "Turn of the Tide", Holroyd's contributions are the better ones, but, unlike TOTT, it is more like choosing the best of a mediocre lot. You've got the decent title cut, a few fairly mundane rockers like "Hold on" and "Watching You", and a generally inferior clone of "Life is for Living" by the name of "Say You'll Stay". As far as Lees, he is mostly AWOL with the exception of the ballad "For Your Love". A lot of really nasty female backing vocals creep into the mix and help neither the sound nor the reputation of the group.

To summarize, when our favourites produce efforts such as these, we are all victims... The worst yet from BJH.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars The victim is none other than you, dear listener!

This album is where Barclay James Harvest lost it completely. The 80's was overall a very weak period for Barclay James Harvest (as for many bands that begun in the 60's/70's), but on their previous two albums they at least managed to put one or two good songs on each. On the present album they failed to even do that. In addition they add female backing vocals that give the music an even more commercial sound than before. This is indeed hard to listen to with cheesy lyrics, polished sound and catchy choruses (or attempts to be catchy, anyway). I really have nothing positive to say about this album, even the cover art is one of the ugliest I have ever seen!

Barclay James Harvest would never again make a good album, but everything they did both before and after this one is at least better than the present one. This is the absolute low water mark.

Only for completionists!

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars There's really nothing I find appealing about this album, and really I should probably stop here. I won't of course, but I should.

My biggest problem with this album is that it is so deeply and unequivocally a complete and utter product of the eighties major label/MTV-driven commercial sound that I can barely listen to it today. It probably doesn't help that I never even knew this album existed until about a year ago, so I never had the opportunity to bond and form memories with it back when it would have been considered a lot more palatable than it is today.

Barclay James Harvest have always been heavily influenced by their surroundings, whether it be the locale and/or studio they are recording in, the whims and tendencies of their producers, or even local events and trends. Besides maybe their very first album I can't really see where the band set out with a firm plan and direction and put together an album that was wholly their own vision. And I don't mean that to be a derogatory statement, just an observation that helps explain why they would crank out another commercially-oriented record with just enough orchestra to remind folks these are BJH but far too much eighties sheen and trite lyrics to have any hope of becoming a classic or even solid progressive rock album.

The band really crossed over with 1979's 'XII', but with this album there is no doubt they've left any progressive inclinations or intentions behind. The closest they come is the title track which has the distinction of decent female backing vocals and some horns (both rarities for a BJH song), but also for some reason gives me a strong vibe of an early seventies Motown tune. I keep expecting Marvin Gaye to start belting out 'What's going on' at any moment.

Otherwise pretty much every track matches the bland and unoriginal level of the most forgettable songs on 'XII', 'Eyes of the Universe', 'Turn of the Tide' and 'Ring of Changes', all marginal albums with but a few saving graces. This one doesn't even have that. I can't bring myself to give a Barclay James Harvest album only one star, but if I were to ever do so this would be that album. Two stars (barely), and not recommended.


Latest members reviews

5 stars This album of Barclay James Harvest's, despite not being well liked by the band's English core fan-base, is one of my favourites of theirs. I can understand people's reticence at liking this album: when I first bought it on its release, I disliked it intensely and sold it after only a couple of ... (read more)

Report this review (#149732) | Posted by alextorres2 | Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The "big mistake" BJH made with this album was leaving behind the trademark-sounds in order to go with the fashion of the 80s... it was a real success then but nowadays it cannot stand the test of time anymore with only 3 tracks I still like listening to: "Hold on", "Rebel woman" and the title ... (read more)

Report this review (#66549) | Posted by rupert | Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I have a certain feeling about his album. When it came out I was growing on my progressive rock passion and searching all the bands which could have thwe minimum relation to the genre. This was one of them. Nice songs, although too much poppy most of the time. The title track is very catchy an ... (read more)

Report this review (#22703) | Posted by elpprogster | Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Barclay James Harvest in the Eighties. The old and symphonic Barclay is gone. Now the band are in days of melodic and sometimes commercial pop-rock. In this album , like the others albums before "XII", there are good songs and bad songs. Because of this, the music is not always good. The highl ... (read more)

Report this review (#22702) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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