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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 This is the 3-piece BJH's first digital recording and the first to include stalwart Colin Browne. It is not one of their best! Most of the album passes untroubled by excessive displays of inspiration or any serious attempt to escape a cosy warm cocoon of easy-listening soft-rock/pop mediocrity. The sound is rather brittle with a false high-end sheen typical of early digital recordings, and this is the last on which Les's voice is not swallowed by great swathes of reverb or echo like on later releases. Here he sounds much more direct - front room rather than Albert Hall - and all the better for it.

Of the first seven songs little of exceptional merit stands-out: John's songs do at least feature guitars amongst synths, unlike Les's which are almost exclusively keyboard dominated, but none would overly trouble a compiler of a 'best of' especially on a Prog site! Pickings are slim: How Do You Feel Now has soppy romantic lyrics but a nice orchestrated arrangement; Highway For Fools is a more aggressive rocker with multi-tracked guitars; the atmospheric Echoes And Shadows is one of Les's better 'drifting' songs like Play To The World; doom-laden Death Of A City conjures up Armaggedon with an airy rockist arrangement; Waiting On The Borderline, Back To The Wall and I'm Like A Train are pleasant and bouncy but otherwise undistinguished.

The final three tracks save the day, simply for being different. Doctor Doctor has a clever arrangement illustrating a song about depression and the natural drug of 'love'. It is lively enough, and features a fine progressing melody structure, but the stuttery main accompaniment becomes laboured and overstated with insufficient movement. By contrast, Life Is For Living is an easy, free-flowing, lightweight, throwaway pop confection that somehow became a perennial crowd favourite, presumably because it is easy to sing along to. Nice arrangement though!

In Memory Of The Martyrs is the real gem here, a stately mid-paced ballad reflecting in poetic terms on the many people who died attempting to cross the Berlin Wall when the grass really was greener on the other side. Beginning with a synth solo outlining the principal melody, the scene is soon set by various synth motifs interplaying with lovely massed acoustic guitars creating an emotional mood similar to old favourite Hymn.

Overall, Turn Of The Tide is something of a low point for the band in general [despite, or perhaps because of, enjoying commercial success at last], and not one to be recommended to the casual Prog buyer. It's professional, it's polished, but while nothing can be considered offensively poor, there is simply too little to get the pulse racing.

Joolz | 2/5 |


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