George Starostin's Reviews



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Bob Josef <> (21.05.2004)

This band was extremely obscure here in the U.S.A. (only Octoberon ever charted, and barely at that). I had only heard the name of the group and seen a lot of their LP's in cutout bins. So, I decided to take a chance, based solely on your review. I must say that my feelings are more positive and negative. I don't quite get why they got bashed for being a Moody Blues rip-off, because there's only a superficial resemblance. Namely, mellotron and orchestration. But they certainly rock harder than the Moodies -- Hayward and company would never have done anything like "Good Love Child" or "Taking Some Time On". And Lees, Holroyd and Pritchard, at this point, were much better musicians in the technical sense than Hayward, Lodge, and Edge. And the folk and folk-rock influences are much more pronounced than with the Moodies. "Taking Some Time On" reminds me of the Strawbs more than anything else, and is definitely a great opener.

The band's major pluses are gorgeous melodies and arrangements. Each of the songs has a good hook. The ballads are very soothing, and the two rockers fun. However, there are a couple of important minuses. First, the lyrics are very amateurish. Very earnest, but they try to be profound, and end up too simplistic. The lyrics are not abstract or even clever enough to compensate for their naivete, unlike say, the Moodies, Keith Reid or early Bernie Taupin. Appalling lyrical couplets like "It wasn't long ago the people that I knew were glad/and nothing they ever thought about was sad" or "Then man can live together with one triumphant cry./If life is so hard to live, why not die?" suggest that hiring a lyricist might have been a good idea.

More importantly, none of the bandmembers is a standout lead vocalist. Competent tenors, all of them, but instantly forgettable and indistiguishable from each other or anyone else. Except for Wooly's attempt to sound like a barroom boogie-woogie guy on "Good Love Child" , which is pretty ridiculous. Maybe that's the reason BJH never made it really big. If they had had a Justin Hayward or a Greg Lake in their ranks, these songs would have sounded a lot better. Still, despite its flaws, it's still a very listenable album that I won't mind playing at all.


Bob Josef <> (21.05.2004)

Agreed, not quite as good as the first one, although I don't think it's quite as draggy as you do, even with all those ballads. Still, it definitely could have used something along the lines of "Taking Some Time On". "She Said" reminds me of King Crimson's "Epitaph", with a very similar atmosphere. But certainly Pete Sinfield's lyrics were far more interesting than "She said, 'Why don't you come and stay with me far away from people we know?/We could live our ives together, happiness wherever we go.' " The problem with lyrics still remain, maybe even more cliched than the first one. "Lady Loves" ("She'll take your children by the hand./She'll lead them to the promised land.") and especially "Happy Old World" ("My mind's not on this song I sing, my heart's not in the lines./Guess I'll go and kill myself, so would you kindly close the blinds.") are the real embarassments in the lyrics department. And, again, the vocals are nothing special, with the end of "Song for Dying" and "Ball and Chain" indicating that "gritty" is not these singers' forte.

Still, the melodies and arrangements are still quite good, again compensating for these shortfalls. It also escapes me why "Mockingbird" is the classic, when other songs are just as good. "Galadriel", "Lady Lies" and "Vanessa Williams" would also qualify. Still, the first album is preferable, due to a slightly greater variety. I can only hope that they matured in their lyrical and vocal approaches later.

I bought a CD which has these first two albums on on CD, which sounds great. I guess they've been re-released singly with a bunch of bonus tracks. Since I find it hard to believe anyone would fall head over heels in love with them and become a hardcore BJH fan, the "twofer" is a lot better bargain.


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Renate Methöfer <> (28.03.2004)

I think it is the best half of the box with it's predecessor.


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Alister Hill <> (07.02.2002)

And IMHO Time Honoured Ghosts is the brilliant Barclay's finest hour! It is a fantastic album!

Thanks for giving them some webspace - even if your opinions are a little hard to fathom at times.


Kevin MacNutt <> (19.08.2004)

I am personally shocked how good this one is actually, especially since before this they had not produced an album worth listening to since 1972. Of course this sounds nothing like their "glory days" of 1969-1972, although there are some really good songs on this albums. So what if BJH sounds nothing more than a composite of a bunch of other bands, apparently they chose good influences in '76, instead of sounding like a bad mixture of Eagles, America and Moody Blues like on their previous three efforts.


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Nathalie Skeldon <> (03.09.2002)

i feel your review of Eyes of the Universe is a little harsh. i will admit, with only being 15 that some of Bjh is to cheesy for me, but it was Eyes of the Universe that got me into Barclay James Harvest! i would also like explaining to me,(if you dont mind)the bit about 'Skin flicks' being a 'third-rate Eighties Mcartney song' as, baring in mind i was not around in the late 70's/earlie 80's,i do not get how a song written in 1979, can be the same song (sampled from) as written in the 1980's, it just doesnt add up!


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