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Barclay James  Harvest - Ring Of Changes CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.68 | 78 ratings

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3 stars After a rather pathetic songwriting performance on "Turn of the Tide", John Lees more than pulls his weight on the sequel, with yet another titular allusion to change. Do not be fooled by the presence of orchestration as this is nothing like the Harvest years. More slick pop rock, albeit with a much better balance than on any other 1980s album from the group.

"Fifties Child" is a rousing nostalgic opening number that dispenses with the silliness of "Tale of Two Sixties" and is actually pretty catchy while possessing staying power. "Looking From the Outside" has one of Holroyd's better riffs and is similar to his work on TOTT but with more punch. Nothing progressive here but if you liked "Sip of Wine" or "Rock 'n Roll Lady" you might feel at home here. Some pretty good synths are thrown in. Another decent Holroyd tune that does not develop well enough in spite of a great beginning is "Waiting for the Right Time", which is spacey in a way that reminds me of some of his collaborations with Mel Pritchard on "Everyone is Everybody Else".

Two of the major highlights are represented by John Lees's return to a simpler more folky approach, and their back to back presence is also noteworthy as they build upon each other. "Just a Day Away" was somewhat of a hit thanks to its catchy acoustic Rolling Stones like feel, while "Paraiso Dos Cavalos" is simply lovely and features superb orchestration in a long instrumental flourish at the end.

Unfortunately the album has more dross than even some of the lesser works of the 70s, such as the triple whammy of "Teenage Heart", "High Wire", and "Midnight Drug", all of which are fairly mundane and without enthusiasm from performer or listener.

While superior to "Turn of the Tide", "Ring of Changes" does not constitute a comeback, but simply a circling pattern before heading due south. 3.5 stars rounded down.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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