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Barclay James  Harvest - Turn Of The Tide CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.58 | 106 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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