Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Barclay James  Harvest Face to Face album cover
2.59 | 92 ratings | 13 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prisoner of Your Love (4:35)
2. He Said Love (5:04)
3. Alone in the Night (5:07)
4. Turn the Key (4:47)
5. You Need Love (4:10) *
6. Kiev (5:26)
7. African (5:51)
8. Following Me (4:22)
9. All My Life (5:31)
10. Panic (4:30)
11. Guitar Blues (5:18)
12. On the Wings of Love (5:56) *

* Not on LP

Total Time 60:37

Bonus tracks on Eclectic remaster (2006):
13. He Said Love (7" single edit) (4:15)
14. Panic (12" single remix) (6:05)
15. On the Wings of Love (7" single edit) (5:31)

Line-up / Musicians

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

- Bias Boshell / keyboards
- Kevin McAlea / keyboards
- Paul Wickens "Wix" / keyboards
- Dick Morrisey / tenor saxophone
- Frank Ricotti / percussion
- George Chandler / backing vocals (7)
- Richard Jon Smith / backing vocals (7)
- Jim Chambers / backing vocals (7)
- Lee Vanderbilt / backing vocals (7)
- Bill Fredericks / backing vocals (7)
- Jimmy Thomas / backing vocals
- Andrew Jackman / string arranger & performer (11)

Releases information

Artwork: Karl Lloyd

LP Polydor ‎- POLD 5209 (1987, UK)

CD Polydor ‎- 831 483-2 (1987, Germany)
CD Eclectic Discs ‎- ECLCD 1051 (2006, Europe) Remastered by Paschal Byrne with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry


BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Face to Face ratings distribution

(92 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (52%)
Collectors/fans only (26%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Face to Face reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars While my guitar gently weeps

With CD's having overtaken LPs as the preferred medium, BJH used the extra space available on a single album to make what would otherwise have been 3 to 4 minute tracks a minute or two longer. This doesn't sound much, but the songs here benefit greatly from the added instrumentation and repeated themes.

The tracks on "Face to face" have a freshness and urgency which was missing from the immediately preceding BJH albums. Songs such as "Panic" and "African" find the band getting back to basics big time, and rocking out in a way they had not done since "Thank you" on "Baby James Harvest".

The trademark gloss and sophistication is still there on tracks such as "Kiev" and "On the wings of love", but the best track has to be "Guitar blues". The structure and theme of this song is similar to David Gates "Guitar man" and even The Carpenters (bet you never thought you'd see them mentioned on this site!) "Superstar". Don't let the last sentence put you off though, "Guitar blues" is an excellent piece of BJH, John Lees guitar "Gently weeping" beautifully as he lays down one of his best solos on any BJH album.

There are many other fine tracks throughout the album, and little in the way of the filler which was to plague subsequent releases.

A good return to form for the band, but sadly, something of a one off.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is an album from the 80s, with a strong commercial vein, like the previous 4 studio album without the contribution of Wolstenholme and his legendary mellotron. The first album to be recorded at John Lees' own Friarmere Studios in Delph. The working title for the album whilst recording was in progress was Elements, but there was a last-minute change of heart, possibly because of the futuristic artwork, to Face To Face. Additional keyboards were by Kevin McAlea, Bias Boshell and Wix (Paul Wickens, a session man who has worked with Paul McCartney and Nik Kershaw, amongst others). Additional percussion came from Frank Ricotti, another session musician who had played with numerous luminaries ranging from Tina Turner to Rick Wakeman etc.

He Said Love, of all of John's songs, is the one which has the most overtly Christian message, as the lyric is basically a condensed version of the New Testament. It was written in celebration of the birth of John's second child. The music bears a close family resemblance to `Hymn', and, with its seasonal relevance, was an obvious choice for single release just before Christmas, but unfortunately it failed to get anywhere.

Turn The Key is another lively song from Les with a neat melody line played on the guitar. This track formed part of the 1988 live set and appeared on the Glasnost CD.

In Kiev Les Holroyd was inspired by the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986. The song is a lament for the people of the area, who were innocent victims.

Guitar Blues is the song which is regarded by many as a high point of this album. It's a reject from 1983's Ring Of Changes! The lyrics are ambiguous - its can be read as a lament for a lost love, but it also makes sense as a tribute to man closest to John in the original Barclay James Harvest line up i.e. Woolly Wolstenholme.

"Each night the same songs Each night the pain As I look for your face In the shadows of the front row Life came between us Life on the road We'd kiss and fly on Like birds in the winter time ."

".every day it's another lonely ride Was a time when you'd be here by my side Oh, but the rain came down Washed it all away Now I stand alone with my guitar and play."

Anyway, these good ones are compensated by the others in which there's no many things to remember. I'll give three stars, because I love BJH, but the right value would be around 2,5.

Ah, total time 60,30 mns!

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I have been suffering quite a bit with BJH recently.

This band was one of my preferred ones in the mid-seventies. Their last albums were really weak and have nothing to do with prog (of any kind). I expect the worse from this album and it not the opener "Prisoner of Love" which will bring me any positive feeling. Just poor and poppish simple song. Syrupous, childish and boring. Do not expect from "He Said Love" to be anything similar to the great "She Said". Dull moment again. Almost religious (and you know I can not really cope with these type of songs).

"Alone In The Dark" is less mellow and might well be one of the very few average song. Harder, it even features a good guitar break. Would you believe ! But alas, it will only be a short break. With "Turn The Key" we'll have to support a Bee Gees type of song. Dreadful, really. Under these circomstances, a song like "You Need Love" almost sound as a nice breathe of fresh air; but don't expect too much. It is just a sub-par Beatles melody but one of the most bearable songs of this album.

My preferred track so far is "Kiev". Its introduction reminds me of "Suicide?". You know, the good old days... At least we are not submerged by these boring and poppish rhythms. A melancholic ballad, somewhat emotional and touchy. It also remind me of "A Writer Shade Of Pale". I hope I'm not too confusing... All these great influences for a late eighties BJH album... Don't worry, we are brought back on earth with the next and horrible song "African". Another low (but they are so many...). Extremely poor like some Genesis songs while they were three (just to give you an idea...). "Following Me" is just on par. Definitively, press next.

"All My Life" sounds dico-ish like "Roxy Music" during their least creative moments (their come back actually). I would even say that it is not that bad; having endured such difficult moments so far. When I saw the next title, I really did not know what to expect. Well "Panic" is just as bad as you could imagine. BJH at its low (and you know what it means...).

OK, we'll get finally a decent song with "Guitar Blues". It is a bit drowned into orchestrations (Woolly would have liked it) but it features an interesting guitar break. The closing number is not that bad either; somewhat reminiscent of the ancient times (especially on the vocal side). But these orchestrations kill it a bit.

I am afraid that I will still have to suffer while listening to the remaining of their production, but that's another story. I cannot find one great song here. Only a few average ones. The worse sits with the poor. BJH goes on with the release of progless and insipid music. There are about four average songs here. Three out of ten would be my accurate rating. I will upgrade to two stars (but I am really hesistant to do so).

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

For the first time in their long lasting career, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST took a long break and the fans would have to wait 3 years for a new album. But the wait was worthy as FACE TO FACE issued in 1987 is the best BJH album of the decade. Somehow, our 2 song writers found a way to rejunevate their inspiration and creativity at the fountain of youth. Not that we have a 5 star record, but things are really looking (or sounding, should i say) for the better.

As usual, LES HOLROYD and JOHN LEES share the writing credits, 6 songs for each one and there are quite a few good ones on FACE TO FACE.(and a few very so-so as well). This album sounds more '' real'' BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST , less plastic less processed supermarket muzak than what we had to endure with the last 3 studio recordings. There is life in it, more importantly more heart, more feelings. Some songs can even be compared favorably with some of their old classics.

JOHN LEES provides once again the goods with 5 great tracks out of his 6songs. Sadly there is another attempt at LEES the hard rocker on PANIC and you all know know what it means! definitely not his strongest asset.But he came up with great other songs well reminiscent of the glorious past like HE SAID LOVE which can be seen as a HYMN part 2 with the same message (not that i care) but the melody is wonderful and features great arrangements. ALONE IN THE NIGHT which follows start very calmly with a cute soft voiced melody backed up by an acoustic guitar then explodes in a rockier moment where the band finally plays like a band with good energy and fresh desire. No electro-pop here! This is the BJH of old, the one we used to love!

YOU NEED LOVE (kind of corny title-there are 4 songs with the word love on this album) is another sweet LEES melody, sir PAUL MC CARTNEY could have come up with. The best of JOHN LEES songs have yet to be heard with next the magnificent AFRICAN , my fave of the album, one of the strongest track he ever wrote! Very powerful, LEES singing very emotionally even adding some anger ( BJH angry??imagine that!), strong muscal support played with a sense of urgency and a lot of power.

GUITAR BLUES as well is as good as anything LEES composed in the 70s and would have feature nicely on EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE or TIME HONOURED GHOSTS---no less!! A wonderful melodic typical ''classic'' BJH song with a great guitar at the end. BJH sounds like rock band finally (even if it polished), not like a processed product from a music factory.

However LES HOLROYD sadly still provides sub-par material.Not everything is bad, he even composed a really great track KIEV, a ballad in the quality he composed a long time ago as good as BERLIN for example. But the synth-pop crass commercial songs are still present with the cheesy PRISONER OF YOUR LOVE or the dreadful ALL MY LIFE with syrupy sax and all! ON THE WINGS OF LOVE is another of those ''generic''HOLROYD ballads,kind of sweet , not bad well sung as usual but can you remember something about it when the song has ended? TURN THE KEY is quite good actually , a great melody played by a band, not sounding coming out of a computer even if the 80s synths can be well heard throughout the song.It sounds like a YES song- circa 90125. I can imagine JON ANDERSON singing this one.

FACE TO FACE is definitely an improvement over their other 80s releases, not as good as the ones from the good old times, but having 8 good or great songs out of 12, that was a very nice gift for the suffering BJH fan back then in 1987. At least FACE TO FACE sounds more of a band effort than 2 mini-solos albums as they attempted (mainly JOHN LEES) to go back to the BJH basics.

3.5 STARS.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars While an improvement over "Victims of Circumstance", "Face to Face" is certainly nothing like a return to form. The production is better and less overwhelming than some of the previous albums, fewer tacky synths are present, and Lees produces some of his better guitar work, but too much lost potential is evident in some of the songs, and, as before, the filler quotient is more than ample. My review is based on an LP release that is missing two of the songs listed here: "You Need Love" and "On the Wings of Love", while including the two other songs that have "love" in the title. Is this really BJH?

The best cuts here are the John Lees songs, the excellent spacey rocker "Alone in the Night" and the scintillating electro acoustic ballad "Guitar Blues". From Holroyd, the opener "Prisoner of Your Love" is decent in a way we have heard from him time and again, while "Following me" and "All My Life" are both fairly appealing if poppy. The latter is a bit creepy in the manner of the Police's "Every Breath You Take", but the bubbling keyboards make it a good listen. Apart from the above, a lot of disappointing go-nowhere material. If "He Said Love" was supposed to be the second coming of "Hymn", it is barely an echo of that long ago classic. "African" and "Panic" are both awkward Lees rockers, the latter including more female backing vocals that we hoped we'd heard the last of. "Kiev" was no doubt designed in the tradition of "Berlin" and other political romances but is flat as a pancake, apart from the Procol Harum references in the organ break. By this time, BJH could lay claim to being the group with the most songs that could be interchanged with each other with no one the wiser. This certainly was not the case during their 70s glory years.

The bright spots notwithstanding, when I come face to face with this late 80s album, the conclusion can only be 2 stars, or less.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars All you need is 'love'?

Here is an album that will make most Prog fans cringe! It represents everything that was wrong with the 80's. The synthesiser sounds, the drums sounds, the commercial nature of the songs, the cheesy lyrics, etc., etc. With no less than four songs with the word 'love' in the title; Prisoner Of Your Love, He Said Love, You Need Love and On The Wings Of Love! Even the song Alone In The Night has the L-word in its chorus! This is too much to stomach!

He who said 'love' was none other than Jesus, of course! Again! How many songs can one and the same band write about Jesus? The song is very much another Hymn - a Hymn for the 80's, really!

Most of the songs on Face To Face are very syrupy and very lightweight 80's Pop. Needless to say there is hardly anything progressive about this music. The production is the typical 80's one that we all know well by now. The guitar sound is alright, but the drums, bass and keyboards sound a bit thin and timid. Still, this is clearly a professional recording, made by professional musicians. But you have to have something interesting to record in order to make a good album. This is clearly a band on autopilot adjusting to the times.

African is a very cheesy song that is very difficult to take seriously despite dealing with a serious topic. If they want to convey some important message, their attempt is clearly lost. There is, however, one very good song on this album. It is called Kiev and is a very beautiful, folky song with (something that sounds like) mandolin and beautiful vocals and lyrics. Its mood reminds a little bit of Marillion's Estonia. It is hard to believe that such a good song is on such an overall bad album. But even this song is not Prog, of course.

'Bland' is a pretty good description of this music. 'Cheesy' also applies to several tracks, and 'awful' applies very well to many of the lyrics.

Together with the previous Victim Of Changes, Face To Face is Barclay James Harvest's worst album. Really only worth listening to for Kiev.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars With 'Face to Face' Barclay James Harvest completed the transition to a completely AOR and with few remaining characteristics that would even distinguish them as being Barclay James Harvest. As pop-rock I would rate this as a pretty decent album given the very slick, professional production and excellent quality of the musicianship, particularly the keyboards and highly polished, multi-tracked vocals.

Granted, just about every prog dinosaur still roaming the earth was producing similar music at this point of the eighties. All of them retained at least some semblance of their original and unique sounds though, even when it was cleverly woven in subdued fashion into the fabric of a broader glossy adult contemporary tapestry. Songs like the surprisingly religious-themed "He Said Love" and the cheesy love song "Following Me" fit the same mold as Kansas ("Perfect Lover", "All I Wanted"), Yes ("Love Will Find a Way", "Rhythm of Love") and Genesis (everything after 'Lamb').

But with the exception of Genesis all these bands still had some redeeming tracks on every album. I can't find any here. The closest are probably the anti-apartheid "African" that takes a page from Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Toto and Paul Simon circa the same era; and "Kiev" which is polished to an almost sterile sheen but has an interesting tempo that sits somewhere between epic and ballad as well as woodwind-sounding keyboards that give it a flavor that transcends the decade in which is was recorded. Nothing else on the album fits that description, and subsequently most of these songs and the album as a whole have become a time capsule for a musical era that was already coming to an end by the time they were recorded. Not a good place to be from a progressive music standpoint.

Like pretty much all the rest of the band's eighties albums this one is decent at best, forgettable and disappointing at worst. So probably somewhere in between. I'm going to stick with two stars which is what I've rated most of the rest of their eighties output, and recommend only "African" as a track worth seeking out for at least one spin. The rest can be safely passed on without risking the loss of a complete Barclay James Harvest experience if you happen to be contemplating which of their discography to invest in.


Latest members reviews

3 stars It was on "Face to face" where it got evident that John Lees and Les Holroyd were really drifting apart as songwriters, and sometimes you wish for a link to make this album one connected, flowing piece of music. About the music: "African" by John Lees is the absolute standout-track on thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#66540) | Posted by rupert | Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Looking at the sibmitted reviews this album certainly draws up very mixed feelings. That's recognisable for it has done so with me too, although I am an ardent BJH-fan. But especiaaly the first few times I played the album I couldn't get in touch with it. There seemed to be too many poopy tune ... (read more)

Report this review (#46223) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars My first exposure to BJH was with Poorman's Moody Blues, which got me absolutely hooked to them. Live Tapes was amazing and an absolute must have. On this album, Guitar Blues strikes such a chord deep in the heart which makes you want to beleive that music is actually a chemical thing that aff ... (read more)

Report this review (#22708) | Posted by | Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars For me it'is a worse album from the Barclay James Harvest. I saw the band in Peace Festival 1987 in Lisbon (when the band, sadly, made playback...) and bought a "He Said Love/On The Wings of Love" single. Because of this I think which the album is more acoustic but is not. When I bought this a ... (read more)

Report this review (#22706) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was the last BJH album I bought on vinyl (and almost the last, period) It was okay. They tried to recapture a bit of the "Gone To Earth" feeling with "He Said Love" and Les Holroyd sang pretty well on his songs....but it was not quite there. Only on "Guitar Blues" did the spine start tingling ... (read more)

Report this review (#22707) | Posted by | Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST "Face to Face"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.