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Barclay James Harvest

Welcome to the Show

Review by Gary Hill

This deluxe reissues is remastered and expanded. The first disc includes the original studio album with one bonus track. The second disc is a live set. I’d have to say that the studio album suffers a bit from over-production. It’s less prog rock and more AOR rock with a heavy 80s element to it. Beyond that disclaimer, though, it’s good stuff. This is a nice set really.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One

                   
The Life You Lead

There is a bit of an 80s AOR sound to this. The vocals make me think of The Bee Gees. It’s not really all that proggy. It’s a good song, though, if a bit dated.

Lady MacBeth
Coming out of the previous piece, the vocals here again make me think of the brothers Gibb a times. This is a mellower, more balladic tune. It’s definitely a prog rock piece. I love the multiple layers of vocals. I love the whole musical arrangement, too. That said, it has a bit of that 80s element, too. When the melodic, but crunchy, guitar enters later, it really brings it into some more rocking territory. It drops back to the balladic after that, but still retains a bit more energy and oomph.
Cheap the Bullet
The guitar that opens this is really rocking. There is a lot of 80s sound here. While the verses aren’t very proggy, the choruses bring a prog element to the table. At times this makes me think just a bit of Queen.
Welcome to the Show
The title track is another AOR rocker with a real 80s vibe. For some reason the vocal arrangement again makes me think of The Bee Gees. I like the melodic guitar solo on this quite a bit.
John Lennon's Guitar
Classical music, folk, prog and pop rock all seem to merge here. This makes me think of acts ranging from Klaatu to the Bee Gees and Queen. While it’s not the proggiest thing I’ve heard, it’s one of the proggier cuts here. It has some psychedelia built into it, too.
Halfway to Freedom
A mellower, more powered ballad type song, this again makes me think of the Bee Gees quite a bit. The rocking guitar later adds another dimension.
African Nights
Another with a definite 80s sound, this feels like a cross between Toto and The Bee Gees to me.
Psychedelic Child
More of a hot rocker, this is pretty mainstream stuff. Still, it’s a classy tune. Yes, there is some psychedelia in the mix, too.
Where Do We Go
A mellower cut, this feels like a cross between Chicago, 10CC and the Bee Gees to me. It has a definite 80s sound, too. The saxophone is a nice touch.
Origin Earth
This another mellow tune. It makes me think of Queen quite a bit.
If Love Is King
This number is a bit proggier. It’s a a bit more of a rocker, too. I can make out some of that Queen element here, too. This is evocative and powerful. It’s one of the best pieces here, really.
Shadows on the Sky
Another slower, mellower track, Queen is a valid reference here, too.
Bonus Track
                     
Stand Up

Although the opening mellower movement is a bit proggy, when this works out to the song proper, it’s much more of an 80s AOR tune.

Disc: 2
            
Mockingbird

As keyboard open this cut, it gradually works forward in a very proggy fashion. Piano and other instruments work together to bring in the song proper, and evocative and pretty progressive rock musical concept. This is almost part Moody Blues and part early King Crimson ballad. It is a fairly consistent piece, despite covering some fairly wide ground. It’s a great piece.

Hold On
This is more of a mainstream rocker. It’s more in an AOR motif and makes me think of Al Stewart a bit. I really like the melodic guitar solo later in the piece.
Alone in the Night
A more complex and proggier cut, this is a killer rocker start to finish. It’s one of the best on the live disc for sure.
On the Wings of Love
More of a rock ballad, there is a cool string (perhaps synthesized?) section on the cut. It’s proggy, but more of an AOR tune than a pure prog one.
Cheap the Bullet
This was one of the highlights of the main CD. This live version is stronger than the studio one to me. That’s because I think the studio version was overproduced. This rocks pretty well.
Medicine Man
I like this energized prog rocker quite a bit, too. There is some exceptional guitar interplay later in the track, too.
Play to the World
More of an AOR type song, this is solid. The saxophone adds a lot.
Child of the Universe
This is a cool melodic prog rocker. It’s dynamic and fairly complex. It’s also quite a powerful tune.

 

 
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