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Barclay James  Harvest - River Of Dreams CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.23 | 58 ratings

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3 stars River Of Dreams is something of a return to form for Barclay James Harvest after the low of Caught In The Light, fans of their later commercial material often considering it to be their best album. It serves as a reasonably fitting curtain call to Lees and Holroyd's career together, but only one track can be considered Prog and that isn't very good.

The best tracks are the first three, which also display the most collaboration between the BJH principals. Les's wistful "spirit of the 70s" lyric for the poignant Back In The Game is appropriately accompanied by a very 70s arrangement and structure with combined harmonies and strong guitar part, only the modern keyboards separate it from Gone To Earth [1977]. River Of Dreams contrasts a jaunty almost country-rock arrangement and singalong chorus with downbeat lyrics, a disillusioned rake through the "dirty water" of the past. Yesterday's Heroes, my personal favourite, is a modern AOR track underpinned by a chugging guitar motif running through the song and some strong guitar themes.

The album tails off after that: Children Of The Disappeared has a Prog structure with a nice mid-section but is far too disjointed musically; Pool Of Tears, Do You Believe In Dreams and (Took Me) So Long are boring rock-lite MOR; lyrically enigmatic, Mr. E has an interesting keyboard based arrangement with sudden outbursts of guitar solos and is really rather good; musically slow and dreamy, Three Weeks To Despair is notable for its emotive lyrics on homelessness and sampled voice of such a man; while The Time Of Our Lives is a suitably rousing almost anthemic closer with another nod to the 70s, but is otherwise formulaic Les.

Overall, it's a mixed bag but is a good example of the band's later work, and better than most. Had Lees and Holroyd continued to work together as they did on some songs, then it could have been so much better. Sadly, they ran out of steam, Lees in particular became despondent at the developing situation, and soon River Of Dreams was the original band's epitaph as relations deteriorated. It may have been the end of the road, but they went out on a relative high.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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