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Barclay James  Harvest - Caught In The Light CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.57 | 73 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
1 stars Once More

After the disastrous duo of Victim Of Circumstance and Face To Face in the late 80's it was not very difficult for Barclay James Harvest to produce a better album in the early 90's with the previous Welcome To The Show. While that album was hardly up to par with the band's 70's output, it did constitute some kind of return to the form and quality of early 80's albums like Turn Of The Tide and Ring Of Changes. This small but obvious improvement over previous albums might make us expect even greater things from this follow up album. The nice cover art work by Rodney Matthews (who has made many cover art pictures for Prog acts) as well as the extended song lengths for this album might raise our expectations even further. However, anyone with such higher expectations was certainly in for a major disappointment with Caught In The Light.

The cover art work features the band's trademark butterfly, this time up in space again and thereby evoking the cover for the 1978 album XII. Sadly, the image does not represent the music as well as it did in 1978.

This album is on the whole over 70 minutes long and given how similar most of the songs are in terms of sound, mood and tempo this is far too long for its own best. As usual with this group, the sound is rather lightweight, the mood melancholic and the tempo slow. This lack of variety makes the album appear even longer than it actually is and listening to the whole thing in one session feels like it's taking an eternity! Also, several of the individual songs are far too long for their own good. The longest track here is over nine minutes and five of the other tracks are over six minutes long. This would not have been a problem, of course, if these songs had contained some interesting changes and developments to justify their length. But none of the 12 songs on this album goes beyond simple and traditional song structures. There is hardly anyhing particularly progressive about this music.

With such a long running time overall, it is very hard to see any reason whatsoever to extend songs like Back To Earth and Cold War to over seven minutes each or to include such awful songs as Spud-U-Like and the pointless near-remake of the band's old classic Mockingbird, appropriately entitled Once More. There are a few decent songs here too, particularly the first three and the last one. Indeed, Knoydart and Copii Romania are pleasant songs as is the closer Ballad Of Denshaw Mill with its strongly Celtic sound. However, I will not comment further on each of the songs as I simply don't think that most of these songs deserve any special comment! Indeed, there is very little to even distinguish the different songs from each other. There are some nice passages spread over the album with, for example, some tasteful acoustic guitar licks or an unusual sound here and there, but these points of interest are very brief and fleeting. Though, most of the songs are at least listenable and, in small doses, even pleasant in a minor way. But they are not at all memorable or particularly interesting.

While Caught In The Light is surely better than Victim Of Circumstance and Face To Face, there is really only one conclusion to draw here: this is primarily for major fans of this band who want to complete their collections. This said, had they removed the worst couple of songs and shortened the most overlong ones, this could have been yet another decent little two star album by Barclay James Harvest. But as it stands, I can give only a single star.

SouthSideoftheSky | 1/5 |


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