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Barclay James  Harvest - Welcome To The Show CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.92 | 77 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A t this stage, the "show" was relegated to a continental cult of listeners whose musical tastes belonged to a bygone era. And it was for them that BJH continued to release fresh works every year or so, covering familiar ground while availing themselves of what new bells and whistles they could lay their hands on. "Welcome To The Show" sounds modern by BARCLAY's outmoded standards, suggesting any number of artists whose prog sensibilities had long since succumbed to the allure of well-crafted albeit timid pop music (e.g., Mike + The Mechanics). The final product is remarkably inoffensive, as if the band set out with the goal of not writing bad songs rather than writing good ones. Alternating between compositions from John Lees and Les Holroyd, it appears that neither really has anything important to say. The closing "Halfway To Freedom" addresses the post-Wall Germany (Halfway to Poland would have been way funnier), "Cheap The Bullet" addresses society's cycle of violence and its effect on our youth, but these social issues were well handled themes by 1990.

The remaining material deals with generic topics (love, being in a rock band) plus a pair of tracks ("John Lennon's Guitar," "African Nights") tantamount to diary entries. Pleasant harmonies and pretty melodies aren't the problem, lyrics are. BJH has always held a brittle command of their mother tongue, suggesting a too literal translation from German into English (which may explain their appeal to non-English speaking audiences). Rhyme schemes are often absent, and some lines are simply embarrassing. Case in point, take this line from "Love Is King" (please): "If music be the food of love / Then someone ate the crown". I don't even want to know what that means. If the cover suggests latter-day PINK FLOYD, the a alogy holds within as well. "Welcome To The Show" is more interested in keeping the machine going by slapping a new coat of paint on the body rather than rebuilding the engine. Here, they let their creative engines idle, a ploy which implies the band knew they were running out of gas.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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