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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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2 stars Honestly none of the 80s Barclay James Harvest albums are very good, but 'Turn of the Tide' may be the most boring in terms of musical exploration and thematic content. There's just not much here to get excited about.

Les Holroyd and John Lees seems to have settled into something of a formula for cranking out records since 1978's 'XII' and Woolly Wolstenholme's departure. On 'Eyes of the Universe' and this record, as well as 'Ring of Changes' and 'Victims of Circumstance' the two of them split songwriting duties evenly. 'Eyes' and this album both open with a Holroyd tortured love song followed by sappy, idealistic John Lees composition, in this case "How Do You Feel Now?" about the birth of his daughter and delivered with simple but effective piano and synthesized strings. The third song on both albums is also a Holroyd composition and both of them are about playing music live. This one, "Back to the Wall" speaks of playing in the shadow of the Berlin Wall in the years leading up to its collapse. "In Memory of the Martyrs" is a Lees tune that also speaks to the specter of The Wall.

And the similarities don't stop there. Both albums include a Lees composition mildly cynical of the music industry, "Sperratus" on 'Eyes' and "Highway for Fools" here. Lees adds another of his many autobiographical songs with "Doctor Doctor" which speaks in awkward and rather uncomfortable terms about dealing with depression.

The rest of the album is decent, but none of the songs here are particularly memorable and few of them are mentioned when considering the band's most notable works other than "Life is for Living" which is pretty upbeat and is distinguished by an almost calypso feel thanks to stilted keyboards and an almost danceable rhythm.

This certainly isn't among the more memorable BJH albums, and while it was quite popular in Germany thanks to the Berlin-themed songs the album didn't do well in other markets and perhaps signaled a waning popularity and creative spark for the band.

If this were a debut album by a neophyte band I might be persuaded to rate it at three stars since the production (once again by Martin Lawrence) is competent and fits the mood and style of its day. But this is Barclay James Harvest, and for them the bar is somewhat higher. So two stars it is. I'd recommend this for serious fans of the band, but I suspect most of them already own it. For anyone else I'd rather point them to the band's much more reaching and creative seventies works. These are more representative of what made this band great once.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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