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Barclay James  Harvest - BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Nexus CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.01 | 43 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Brave new world or sitting upon a shelf? The latter, I'm afraid!

After the dreary River Of Dreams album in the early 90's, Barclay James Harvest fell apart. The two principle songwriters of the band, John Lees and Les Holroyd, finally parted company. I say 'finally' since the conflict between them had probably been raging for a long time and the split thus came as a relief and allowed greater creative freedom for the both of them. The situation can favourably be compared to that of David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd or that of Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies of Supertramp, but what makes Barclay James Harvest somewhat unique is that both camps went on using the Barclay James Harvest name with different subscripts. Holroyd took drummer Mel Pritchard with him and continued to make music under the name 'Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd' while John Lees reunited with Woolly Wolstenholme (who had originally left the band in the late 70's) under the (somewhat pretentions) name 'Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees'. (Given the return of Woolly, a better name had perhaps been 'Barclay James Harvest featuring Woolly Wolstenholme'!). So this is in effect an entirely new band with only John Lees being left from the previous River Of Dreams album.

Those who know the band's 70's output are bound to rejoice upon hearing about Woolly's return to the fold, but they are equally bound to be disappointed by Nexus. The weakest aspect of this album is that half of it consists of remakes of older songs! This move is very unimaginative and the result is not very interesting. The choices are also quite questionable and they do by no means represent the best of the band's classic era. Hymn and Mockingbird are relatively good but very predictable choices; the silly Beatles-pastiche, Titles, and the embarrassing Loving Is Easy, are both slightly better than their original versions, but given just how poor the original versions were, that is not very comforting; only Iron Maiden is a good choice and Woolly sings it wonderfully.

The primary reason for including remakes of old tunes was probably that the new songs were not good enough in their own right. Still, there are some half decent tunes here. But nothing too impressive. While it is great to have Woolly back, the end result is not very good and it fails to be much better than some of the band's weak 80's and 90's offerings. It is not surprising that the subsequent live DVD called Legacy did not include a single song from this album (apart from the ones originally from the 70's, that is).

If the return of Woolly Wolstenholme appeals to you, I would strongly recommend you to invest in the very good live DVD John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Legacy and also in Woolly's recent Maestoso albums Grim and Caterwauling. These other releases featuring Woolly are very much better and more interesting than Nexus.

Only for fans this one.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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