Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
A good BJH album - and the last of the original line-up.
on 12 August 2008
"XII" is the last studio album produced by the original line-up of Barclay James Harvest, keyboards player Woolly Wolstenholme leaving prior to the recording of the follow-up due to musical differences with the other two song-writers, John Lees and Les Holroyd.
Some of those musical differences are in evidence on XII: "Turning in Circles" being the kind of pop-pap that would have made Woolly's blood run cold.
For alll that, it is a strong album and a fitting one for Woolly to end his career with BJH. Other than the aforementioned song, all of the others fit neatly together and XII has a good, album-balance feel to it. The songs are a mix of the more traditional BJH melodic, progressive-rock influenced numbers and those having a bit more of a commercial flavour, aimed no doubt at the European market where they had found huge fame with their previous album, "Gone to Earth".
So it is that "Nova Lepidoptera", "The Streets of San Francisco" and Woolly's "In Search of England" (a stunning song, the highlight of the album) sit alongside more radio-friendly numbers such as "Loving is Easy", "Berlin" and "Sip of Wine". The mix works well on XII - the sole exception, "Turning in Circles", being insufficient to spoil the feel - and it remains one of the best albums of the band's more commercially-oriented era (or less-progressive might be a better way of putting it) which began with "Gone to Earth" and, arguably, which would last until they broke up after "River of Dreams" in the late 1990s.
This remastered CD has excellent sound quality and a number of bonus tracks that I suspect will be of interest to "anorak" fans only as they are all different versions of songs already on the album - everyone else should stop listening after "The Streets of San Francisco"!