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Articles Home » 1987 Articles » Barclay James Harvest - 1987 Face To Face
Barclay James Harvest - 1987 Face To Face

ARTIST: Barclay James Harvest
ALBUM: Face To Face
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: POLD 5209, 831 483-2
YEAR: 1987
CD REISSUE: 2006, Eclectic, ECLCD1051


LINEUP: Les Holroyd - vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards * John Lees - vocals, guitars * Mel Pritchard - drums, percussion

Guest Musicians: Bias Boshell, Wix, Kevin McAlea - keyboards * Andrew Jackman - string arrangements * Dick Morrisey - tenor saxophone * Frank Ricotti - percussion * George Chandler, Richard Jon Smith, Jim Chambers, Lee Vanderbilt, Bill Fredericks, Jimmy Thomas - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Prisoner Of Love * 02 He Said Love * 03 Alone In The Dark * 04 Turn The Key * 05 You Need Love * 06 Kiev * 07 African * 08 Following Me * 09 All My Life * 10 Panic * 11 Guitar Blues * 12 On The Wings Of Love


I'm a big fan of this UK outfit, as are a few of the other GD team as well. With a swag of material from their 70's period steeped in progressive rock, BJH stepped out from behind the mellotrons and entered into commercial territory by the time the 80's arrived. Having listened to most of their 80's albums, I would say categorically that AORsters should really find the time to get acquainted with their back catalog from this era. In his review of BJH's 1993 album 'Caught In The Light', Eric made a good point about BJH being a pop band with prog leanings. Also, their later material included references to Alan Parsons Project and Keats, plus I'll throw Mike + The Mechanics and Eloy in there too. Couldn't agree more, and if you wound the clock back six years from 'Caught In The Light', you can hear BJH stretching out with melodic intent on their excellent 1987 set 'Face To Face'. Hardened Prog fans have made it clear that BJH's material during this period was weak, AOR like and nowhere the 'classic' (their words not mine) material from the 70's. For melodic rockers, I think you can switch the timeframes around, and push the ponderous and labourious Prog era to one side and focus on cleaner songs, straight-forward arrangements and easier to understand lyrics, which is what we get on 'Face To Face'. True, most of the songs are based around love and lament, and though it has been said time and time again, the fact that BJH had British origins, they were more popular in Europe than in Britain. That in itself says something.

The Songs
It's a commercial start thanks to the prog/pop of 'Prisoner Of Love'. You could call it an AOR crossover but not quite. The sweeping 'He Said Love' is gentle and flowing, anthemic all the way through. Nice track. I have a triumvirate of tracks which I've really enjoyed. 'Turn The Key' with its lovely keyboard work and careful sequencing comes to life with a great chorus, and the parping synth is well suited when it makes its arrival. 'Kiev' is a lament for the people of Chernobyl who experienced the nuclear reactor disaster the year before. Again, the gentle flowing arrangement is lush, the keyboard melodies are delicious to say the least. The third offering was 'All My Life', which is heavily sequenced, and sits within a darker framework. If you can imagine an edgier darker Genesis during their 80's phase, then this would be it. 'Alone In The Dark' is very similar to what Eloy was doing during their 'Planets' and 'Metromania' era, the guitar work from John Lees is more prominent on this one. Lees also takes command of another well-considered track: 'Guitar Blues', though it's not a blues track per se, this has more in keeping with contemporaries The Moody Blues, and drifts easily across my speaker-space.

In Summary
During 1987, BJH would be one of the first rock bands to play in East Germany, a free concert attended by over 100,000 people. Not hard to see that Germany had a huge following for the band, regardless of whether the Berlin Wall was up or not. BJH would follow this album up with a live 'Glasnost' performance recorded in 1988, returning to the studio in 1990 for 'Welcome To The Show'. Most of their albums are available on the Net as downloads, or better yet, find all the Eclectic reissues for BJH, including 'Face To Face' which was reissued in 2006.

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#1 | AOR Lee on March 04 2012 14:13:31
Great to see an album I love well reviewed here. Massive AOR and there's some genuine power among the more gentle moments! I recommend the remaster George mentions, the single version of Panic kicks serious ass (gatskop) among the bonus material and the remastering is strong
#2 | swazi on March 08 2012 09:20:23
Ha ha ha ...! "gatskop" ...! Ha ha! goodone
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