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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nexus
This was a landmark album in more ways than one for all members of Barclay James Harvest, past and present. After their last studio album, River of Dreams, the three surviving members had decided to take a sabbatical and would be free to record, what is basically solo material, or re-workings of classic BJH material, still using the BJH name but suffixed with the name of...
Published on 7 Mar 2005 by Rich Milligan

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half a band
After 'River of Dreams' - a candidate for their best ever CD - this was a major disappointment, even though it was good to see Woolly back with John Lees. Re-recording oldies is almost always a sign of a lack of inspiration, and the new versions here don't inspire me much; the originals are better left alone. One of the things I liked about BJH was that they never became...
Published on 10 April 2002


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nexus, 7 Mar 2005
By 
Rich Milligan (Thatcham, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
This was a landmark album in more ways than one for all members of Barclay James Harvest, past and present. After their last studio album, River of Dreams, the three surviving members had decided to take a sabbatical and would be free to record, what is basically solo material, or re-workings of classic BJH material, still using the BJH name but suffixed with the name of the band member most involved with the project.
Correctly titled, Barclay James Harvest through the eyes of John Lees, this is BJH's lead guitarist teaming up with former BJH keyboard wizard Woolly Wolstenholm in this recording of new material and some re-recordings of BJH classics. Joining the pair were Craig Fletcher and Kevin Whitehead on bass and percussion respectively.
If we take the re-worked material first I guess whether you prefer the original or the re-worked version is obviously entirely dependant on personal opinion. None of the re-workings differ greatly from their original versions but songs like "The Iron Maiden" and "Hymn" certainly seem to sound fresher with the spruce up they receive. Standing out from the bunch is the superb "Titles" which gets an almost Oasis-like varnish, but still shines like a beacon amongst the other tracks.
Of the new tracks there are a couple of weaker offerings, "Festival" although probably meant in a jovial tone, fails to deliver and for me the clumsy lyrics to "Float" obscure the beautiful melodies and the gorgeous orchestrations that run beneath. "Brave New World" is a superb track although I prefer the slightly rougher version that appeared on a fan club free CD. "Star Bright", the final track on the album, is perhaps the best of both the old and the new though.
Leaving the comparisons between old and new aside it can certainly be said that the overall sound and tone of the album is far more like the classic 4-piece BJH of old than anything the trio produced post-XII.
As I say this was a landmark though, not least because it saw the follow on Nexus tour (and live album) which saw the first appearance on stage of both John and Woolly together for many a year. It could also be argued that this album also provided the catalyst for the subsequent Woolly-led Maestoso album "One Drop in a Dry World". It also provoked Les Holroyd to record his own "solo" album (with BJH drummer Mel Pritchard) "Revolution Days" and the following live album and DVD.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BJH back on top form, 6 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
As a long time BJH fan, I felt that the band had lost its direction to some extent after Woolly's departure following "XII" - ironically having lost their keyboard player, BJH then opted for a much more synthesiser-based sound in the 80's, which became somewhat bland at times, particularly on the Les Holroys tracks. [True, there were some good albums, such as "Eyes of the Universe" & "Welcome to the show"]. With "Nexus" (& the subsequent live set "Revival"), Woolly & John have shown that they really can still get the old magic to work. I understand that the re-workings of old tracks may have been a request of the record company, & I would personally have preferred to have seen all new tracks (although at least the reweorkings have been arranged differently to the originals). Of the new tracks,"Star Bright", in particular, is a real BJH classic & on a par with the band's prime in the mid 70's. This album rates along with some of the band's mid 70's work (such as "Everyone is everybody else", "Time Honoured Ghosts", "Octoberon" & "Gone to Earth") as one of their finest - I hope this line-up lasts, or at least that Woolly is allowed to rejoin the BJH 'proper' line-up. (Contrast this with the BJH feat. Holroyd/Pritchard album "Revolution Days", which I found somewhat disappointing).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dream Is Still Alive, 27 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
I'm something of a lapsed BJH fan, having lost interest after "Turn of
the Tide", but the prospect of hearing a renewed collaboration between
John Lees & Woolly prompted me to buy this CD from an auction site.
First impressions were that the revisited older songs were great but that
the new material was weak. Repeated listenings have changed my opinion
though and I now like the album a lot. The best part is that Woolly's
genius for creating an orchestral feel and for musical arrangement
is given free reign on the album.
It's always fascinating to hear reworked versions of familiar songs, and
each one on this album is approached differently. Iron Maiden is slower
than the original and is improved by the absence of the unsubtle, thudding
bass. Mockingbird (surprise!) features an gorgeous cornet solo in the outro, while Titles
has been extended and is stronger than before(I'm curious about the Oasis
reference included on this song). I question the choice of Loving Is Easy -
one of the band's more mediocre efforts with cringeworthy sexual-innuendo
lyrics, but they've created a nice laid-back feel on this version.
Of the new stuff, Festival is average but lively and Brave New World teeters on
the edge of sentimentality but has won me over. Shelf and Devils are
strong tracks with Woolly hallmarks. Float is an interesting track,
with the soft mellotron intro harkening back to the very early BJH
days before rolling into a deliberate, majestic chorus. On Star Bright, John
is in reflective mood providing a melancholy finish.
There's a bittersweet feel to the album - lyrics look back with affection
and sadness to times gone by, and the rerecording of old songs does
the same. Perfect then for an old fan who remembers "honey-scented
days" of 70's BJH at the Manchester Apollo.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good to have Woolly back, 5 Oct 2000
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
The background to this masterpiece is that Woolly Wolstenholme, original keyboardsman in BJH, has returned to the music world after years as a farmer to combine forces with John Lees, the lead guitarist. (We will not discuss here why Les Holyroyd, bassist, and drummer Mel Pritchard do not appear.) The duo were asked to provide some new material and revisit old masters. What a mixture. "Mockingbird" has a very Mahleresque new introduction. "Iron Maiden" shows that it's a wonderfully powerful song even when stripped to its basics. Fans are still debating whether the version of the ever-popular "Hymn" here is better than the classic one on "Gone to Earth". Of the new stuff, "Brave New World" and "The devils that I keep" are haunting in their own differing ways. There's an upbeat opening with "Festival" and it ends on the tender ballad "Star Bright". A must for all fans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return from Woolly Wolstenholme, 2 Jun 2008
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
The original Barclay James Harvest more or less fell apart in 1997 and two years later John Lees teamed up with original member Woolly Wolstenholme, who had left the band in 1979, to work on his "barclay james harvest Through the Eyes of John Lees" project. Subsequently the band has renamed itself "John Lees's Barclay James Harvest".

"Nexus", the band's first and, so far, only studio album marked the welcome return to the music business of Woolly, who had spent nearly 20 years farming following the break-up of his original Maestoso project in 1980.

John's recruitment of Woolly sent out a message to all BJH fans that the music would be returning to the values the band held in the 70s, as opposed to following the European led commercialist adventure of their 80s period. The album sold well, much better than the original band's final album, "River of Dreams" (which, in actual fact, was very good!).

It's a very good, though not excellent album. For me, it is let down by three things: (1) the production sounds a bit muffled; (2) the tempo is very slow - BJH have never been a high-tempo band but these songs are even slower and this affects in particular the "revisited" songs that one is used to listening at a higher tempo; (3) the "revisited" songs don't always work and the mix of old and new doesn't quite work.

What are these "revisits"? The record company wanted the band to include re-recorded versions of some old BJH classics, not only to boost sales perhaps but also so they could have the rights over the songs.

The "revisited" songs are: "The Iron Maiden", "Mockingbird", "Hymn", "titles" and "Loving Is Easy".

"Mockingbird" and "Hymn" in particular don't wear the new versions well - the problem for me is that these songs were so good in the first place that it is difficult to improve on them - I would have preferred some new songs. "Mockingbird" does get a new "introduction" called "Hors d'Oeuvre" but it fails to lift the song really.

The best "revisited" songs are "Titles", where john Lees adds an extra verse to significantly enhance the song (despite this I still prefer Elliot Mazer's production from Time Honoured Ghosts) and "Loving Is Easy", which gets a totally different (bluesier) feel.

However, it's the new songs that make this the very good album that it is. Nothing here from Les Holroyd's pen of course - he was later to go on and form his BJH Featuring Les Holroyd project - but the combination of John Lees and Woolly Wolstenholme writing again together does not disappoint. Interestingly, all of the new songs are credited to Lees/Wolstenholme - a way of John admitting how much Woolly was missed by him in the original band. Other than the opener though, it is clear who had the lead in the song-writing.

"Festival!" is a bruiser of an opening number, a fine mish-mash of sounds that reminds one of their adventurous Harvest years.

Of Woolly's lead songs, only "Sitting Upon a Shelf" disappoints slightly: "The Devils That I Keep" and "Float", a dreamy mellotron based piece, in particular, are gorgeous.

John's two are both wonderful: "Brave New World" is a catchy number with a lilting beat, a wonderful song. "Star Bright", which closes the album, is just pure bliss - stripped down to the simplest of instrumentation and played at a very slow tempo, John puts in a wonderful vocal performance with a sweet sung melodic line. As the music fades quietly away on this songs, it provides the most wonderful ending to the album!

Overall then, a very good album let down by a couple of unsuccessful "revisits" and a slightly "muddy" production. Worth getting if you enjoyed the band's 70s music.
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4.0 out of 5 stars New take on BJH, 25 Jun 2012
By 
R. Wilson (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
A new slant on some old BJH tunes by John Lees, through the eyes, ears and fingers, it works well and is worth a listen.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half a band, 10 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
After 'River of Dreams' - a candidate for their best ever CD - this was a major disappointment, even though it was good to see Woolly back with John Lees. Re-recording oldies is almost always a sign of a lack of inspiration, and the new versions here don't inspire me much; the originals are better left alone. One of the things I liked about BJH was that they never became an oldies band. That's changed. Pleasant sound, but this is no classic. And where are Holroyd and Pritchard? Making their own CD?? Get back together!
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just a very dull album, 18 Sep 2007
By 
This review is from: Nexus (Audio CD)
There seems to be a section of BJH fans who look back with rose coloured glasses to the days before Wolly left the band. With Wolly now back with John they seem to to think they can do no wrong. This is a very poor album and if Les had released a track as bad as Festival on his album his knockers would have had a field day. Having just listerned to this album and Revolution Days one after the other BJHFLH album to me clearly the better. I like to be more positive being a lifelong BJH fan but I do find this to be such a dull album, the reworkings of the old material bring nothing new, and the new material is in my opinion very very poor.
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Nexus by Barclay James Harvest (Audio CD - 2008)
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