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Barclay James  Harvest - Eyes Of The Universe CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.93 | 102 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars As I remember it, at the time I did not recognize the huge decline from "XII" represented by "Eyes of the Universe". My 21 year old brain had misgivings about "XII", and when this one came along, it seemed a bit heavier and less progressive but really pretty much in line. The schism between the 1970s and 1980s BJH was something that took a while to recognize, but in retrospect it was partly a function of the times, partly the loss of their full time keyboard player and his significant influence, and partly a dessication of their creative well.

The band would continue to produce good songs, with some of the later albums producing more of them than "Eyes", but much of the magic seemed gone. Whereas a soaring melody or harmony might have turned a basic song into something stellar, on the 1980s BJH, too often the good songs just don't take off. Moreover, we now have two songwriters backing each other up on their own songs, rather than a band. And such is the difference between 2-3 star, and 4-5 star albums.

Most of the songs here are decent, except for "Skin Flicks", but none here have entered the elite of BJH songs for me. Some start very well, like "The Song they Love to Sing" and "Rock 'n Roll Lady", but don't really develop like they might have a few short years before. "Love on the Line" is an OK "hit" in a substandard Alan Parsons Project sort of way. "Play to the World" is long and boring and cannot be saved even by a rare sax appearance. Probably the best song is "Capricorn", which almost sounds like classic John Lees fare. I suspect the harder edged production was actually detrimental to the group's sound as everything just seems to be miked way too high, and is not appropriate for a group that had hitherto survived on understatement and subtlety.

I take a pretty dim view of "Eyes", which was the first and irreversible marker of the group's descent on many levels, and the worst album since their debut.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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