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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Barclay James Harvest - 1983 Ring Of Changes
Barclay James Harvest - 1983 Ring Of Changes

ARTIST: Barclay James Harvest
ALBUM: Ring Of Changes
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 811 638 1
YEAR: 1983


LINEUP: Les Holroyd - lead vocals, keyboards, bass guitar * John Lees - lead vocals, guitar * Mel Pritchard - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fifties Child * 02 Looking From The Outside * 03 Teenage Heart * 04 High Wire * 05 Midnight Drug * 06 Working For The Right Time * 07 Just A Day Away (Forever Tomorrow) * 08 Paraiso Dos Cavalos * 09 Ring Of Changes


After spending most of the 70's in the second division of the UK prog scene, BJH parted ways with their keyboard player Woolly Wolstenholme after 1978's effort 'XII'. Legend has it he was less than satisfied at the hints of Americanized AOR that were creeping into their last two albums. While he went on to form Maestoso and tour with Saga, BJH responded with 1979's 'Eyes Of The Universe', the album which placed them directly into AOR territory and forever shifted their main fan base to continental Europe (with Germany as the epicentre) where they became stadium sized megastars. By 1983 they had the excellent 'Turn Of The Tide' (1981) under their belt as well, and were flying high on the 1982 success of yet another live album ('Concert For The People') which even returned them to the UK charts briefly. With Pip Williams producing their first digital recording, the results were highly anticipated.

The Songs
'Fifties Child' kicks off the album with a stirring violin intro straight out of 70's Kansas before settling into a sophisticated midpaced verse. Some tricky percussive bits from Mel enhance the pleasant chorus, with some well placed power chords adding welcome guitar power toward song's end. Probably the best AOR from John on display here. Les delivers 'Looking From The Outside' on a bed of stabbing synth hooks and a solid backbeat - this is AOR central sitting comfortably alongside period LRB or Kansas. While the lyrics hint at friction between Les and John at the time ('If I say that I like your song, will you say that you played it wrong ?'), the music remains unaffected. A strong AOR anthem from one of the top five vocalists I've ever heard. After the rustic balladry of John's 'Teenage Heart', Les brings back the power with 'High Wire', once again in 80's LRB/Kansas territory, the AOR hooks providing such momentum they play a percussive role to carry another winning chorus home. 'Midnight Drug' finds John in his most uptempo mood on the album, an enjoyable enough workout where the energy makes up for an ok melody to an extent. 'Waiting For The Right Time' was something of a hit ballad from Les, all dreamy synths and liquid vocals over the digital sounding rhythm ... wonder if The Cars heard this before penning 'Drive'? Not much guitar but it still manages to make a powerful impact on the listener. After two lethargic/rustic John offerings ('Just A Day Away (Forever Tomorrow)' and 'Paraiso Dos Cavalos'), the title track closes off the album in high tech AOR fashion not miles away from Journey's Frontiers (the song), a slightly different type of rhythm and a chorus that will stick in your head for ages.

In Summary
'Ring Of Changes' was another big success for BJH in Europe, also denting the lower end of the UK charts. The follow up 'Victims Of Circumstance' is practically a twin album and was an even bigger success entrenching them even further into AOR. While their 70's prog fans had jumped ship, Europe's entire AOR support base seemed to be on board, resulting in their output remaining very much AOR and of a high quality until their split in 1998. Always was a bit of a power struggle with two very strong lead vocalist/songwriter personalities who seldom seemed to collaborate (Similar to Paul and Gene in Kiss). They each lead their own versions of BJH now, but the treasure can be found from '77 to '98. Check out the review of their dreamy 1993 classic 'Caught In The Light' elsewhere on this site. A closing note : 'Turn Of The Tide', 'Ring Of Changes' and 'Victims Of Circumstance' are in severe need of remastering/reissue treatment!!

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#1 | Eric on February 04 2012 12:54:41
I remember UK reviews at the time were not favorable, one saying BJH had become Fleetwood Mac. So?! Terrific album and agree with this review and very much in need of reissue as are most of their 80s releases.
#2 | gdazegod on February 04 2012 15:08:01
Expect to see 1987's 'Face To Face' just around the corner, review in the queue. computer work
#3 | roadrunner158 on March 05 2012 18:04:18
This was the only BJH LP I (or more precisely my brother) owned. I guess I can still recall 'Fifties Child' and the title track, though not much else. Based on the reviews of BJH's 80s output, I definitely will need to investigate.
#4 | AOR Lee on March 05 2013 05:09:04
The studio albums before and after this, Turn Of The Tide and Victims Of Circumstance, in my sights for review pretty soon computer work can't get enough prog AOR crossover these days!
#5 | Eric on March 05 2013 17:28:51
'Turn of the Tide' is my favorite BJH album. The sleeve art's fantastic too.
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