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  • North
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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John Lees experiments a bit with a slightly jazzy sound on this album - there's a Steely Dan sound to the 'grumpy old man' lyrics of In Wonderland, but the rest is a mish-mash of the 1980s sound with a couple of excellent quite 'proggy' songs. Ancient Waves is a familiar sounding track with decent lyrics that could have come straight off an 80s album, whilst If You Were Here now is a fairly dull middle of the road rock song. The Real Deal a typical rock number similar to 'cheap the bullet'... On Top of the World is a ballad backed by brass about the loss of the coal mines, sung with a weird US style accent: it's a well trodden path, and let's face it, not many people want to work in coal mines anymore.

The highlights of the album are On Leave and North, both epic tracks that are highly reminiscent of the earlier BJH sound with sweeping orchestral sounds. Unreservedly Yours is a cheerful enough, Celtic tinged pop song.

Overall, it's a decent enough album, but suffers from the same problem as many BJH albums: inconsistent. The vocals by the other singer (John Lees sings on half the tracks) are wrong - sung in a strange American rock accent.
11 comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 January 2014
I love BJH and have all their releases in my collection. Was really looking forward to this release, but to be honest I was somewhat dissapointed with this. A couple of songs are okay, but in general they are sub-standard. Moreover, the production is poor. Supposedly, they have tried out a new sound, but it won't win them any new fans. Hopefully, this will not turn out to be this legendary band's swansong. They don't deserve to be remembered like this. New fans are strongly advised to look elsewhere.
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on 7 February 2015
Very disapointed with this effort, only 'On Leave' hold the true values of Barclay James Harvest.

I have been a fan since 1973 and have most of the albums, I was also a good friend of Woolley Wolstenholme, so it pains me to say, if you can't do better John, perhaps it is time to call it a day
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on 15 May 2015
I saw them live several times in their heyday and they were terrific. But this is wishy washy and not very BJH at all. I don't think it's right for the album to carry the BJH moniker when half the songs are sung by a non original member.
The last decent album to carry the BJH banner was "Welcome to the Show" and that was back in 1989, and their very best efforts were "Octoberon" and "Everyone is Everybody Else" amongst the rest of their 1970's output.
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on 20 October 2013
As a lifetime fan, even I wasn't expecting something this good. The first John Lees BJH album 'Nexus' was a cautious affair, blending re-workings of old songs as if to apologise for the (I thought) equally good new material. 'North', however, is a bolder statement: all new songs but with every bit as much flexibility and atmosphere of the classic line-up. While you could never accuse a band who could dish out 'Medicine Man' and 'Galadriel' on the same live set/album of 'sameness', even these old dogs have certainly produced some new tricks; one minute delivering the usual West Coast type sound - sort of like the Eagles but with more crunch - and the next swerving into Steely Dan territory with bouncy rhythms overlaying those cunning jazz chords that never graced the vinyl of the original four-piece. Not that there isn't plenty of more typical BJH fare along the way. A must for old fans, but also a great introduction to those who have yet to hear what this band can do.
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on 18 October 2013
Well is it 14 years since "Nexes"and we now Have "North"Was it worth The Wait? Well Yes and No

Yes its well played and produced with good lyrics and themes as we have come to expect from john.But no, it lacks any bite, its all too safe, maybe as some have said classic early sounding.This lack of drive is a mystery as even on "nexus" and most of the albums From "Turn of the tide" up to "River of Dreams"John took some chances, some worked "Cheap the bullet"Spud u Like"and Failure's like "Panic" amongst others but all added to their respective albums and i feel this is lacking so can only give it 4 stars

What makes up for this is the second live disc [a full 5 stars] .I have seen Johns bjh live once, les's Twice and together twice. Stunning arrangements of the classic "oldies" is well worth the cost alone. Mockingbird is a song that can sound so different but so recognizable in its different arrangements and this live take is also a great version. Along with the 7 other classics on this disc it's a good live recording

The packaging is very good,although im still waiting for the vinyl to arrive,which will be equally a good I think no scrimping by the lable here

I think that the BJH of the late 70's,80'sand 90's worked well with the two styles making for a balanced selection on the albums which I find is sadly lacking in both johns and les's solo albums. Although for I have a slight bias towards les's efforts .so a good album,but not great,but worth the asking price.And unfortunatly its not likely to attract new converts which is a shame.

So roll on the November tour to see if live versions can enchanse these new songs!

ps.Vinyl edition:-

This edition omits two tracks compared to the cd version but not sure why as there is a large run out on both sides of the lp.if these seven tracks had filled the sides or used the extra space for improved quality that would be acceptable but to leave this space seems a waste especially as its as rumoured a record shop day edition may be done with all tracks on.

As to the vinyl and packaging, all are of a good quality.and as playing the vinyl requires more attention/time,this has given me a better apretiation of the songs.but i still feel my reveiw for the cd version is valid.

Long live vinyl!
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on 27 October 2013
As a teenager one of my top groups was BJH, along with Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes and so on. Like many lovers of prog, they have seldom disappointed.
John Lees has always epitomised BJH out of all the band members, two of course sadly now missed.
This album is very listenable. Some stand-out tracks would be "If you were here now" and "North".
"Ancient Waves" is another excellent track. In fact they all have something to offer except, in my opinion, "In Wonderland". Peculiar lyrics and an irritating ring tone that made I am sure every listener check to see where their phones were, is at odds. Yes, at odds with the other tracks.
Well, apart from that, great!
Every album has a "duff" track.
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on 14 October 2013
This is the best album by any version of Barclay James Harvest since their seventies classics.
If this was a debut by an unknown band I am sure that it would be voted album of the year by many rock critics.
The band still sound as classy as ever but the songs flow together in a way that they haven't done for a very long time.
Original guitarist John Lees has always been a superb guitar player and he still has a fantastic voice.
Craig Fletcher is also a great bass guitarist and we also hear his lead vocals on several songs, the chorus of the title track is sublime.
Kev Whitehead on drums and Jez Smith on keyboards complete the band.
Each member of the band have contributed to the writing and arranging of the songs and it is a true group effort.
This is the first new album since the death of mellotron genius Woolly Wolstenholme, I am sure that he would be very proud of North.
I would not hesitate to award this album 10/10.
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on 20 February 2015
Nothing like BJH, sorry to say but without W W the band has lost its sound, did not find a single track interesting, so this this cd will gather dust on the shelf. Sorry but this is not BJH so give it a miss.
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on 16 October 2013
I have just received the deluxe version of the new album with the live concert cd and I must say what a wonderful album North is. It certainly grows on you after a couple of plays. This is a must for lovers of their 1970s style albums, but with a modern feel. Good songs, clear vocals and well played instruments. Particularly liked the title track North and the live version of After the Day on disk 2.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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