Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

Barclay James Harvest Album Portfolio

River Of Dreams

River Of Dreams CD cover

CD: Polydor 537 576-2, 26th May, 1997 [Not released in the UK - import only]


Back In The Game (Les Holroyd)
River Of Dreams (John Lees)
Yesterday's Heroes (Les Holroyd/Kevin McAlea)
Children Of The Disappeared (John Lees)
Pool Of Tears (John Lees)
Do You Believe In Dreams (Same Chance For Everyone) (Les Holroyd)
(Took Me) So Long (Les Holroyd)
Mr. E (John Lees)
Three Weeks To Despair (John Lees)
The Time Of Our Lives (Les Holroyd)



Recording Details

Recording Dates:
February 1996 to February 1997

Recording Studios:
Friarmere Studios, Saddleworth

Producer:
Barclay James Harvest & Martin Lawrence

Engineer:
Martin Lawrence



Guest Musicians

Kevin McAlea, Colin Browne, Jeff Leach and Jonathan Musgrove



Title

The album title, as well as being taken from John's song, also encapsulates a theme which runs through many of the songs on the album.



Sleeve

Designed by Dirk Rudolph, whose other recent work includes the cover for Bryan Adams Eighteen 'Till I Die.


Back In The Game

Les gets us underway with a positive statement of intent, and BJH are back in business. Jeff Leach’s string overture leads us into the acoustic guitar intro. before John steps in with some fine lead guitar reminiscent of the band’s mid-seventies sound, which matches the song’s subject matter. The song is commercial enough to have single potential, and from this opening track it’s apparent that there has been considerably more collaboration on the songs than was the case on Caught In The Light. The result is an album which has that unmistakeable classic BJH sound - a fine start!
Lyrics:
Just a picture
Taken back in '65
We were young then
It seems so long ago
Play it one time
Spirit of the '70s
Live forever
Lead me on

Oh those crazy nights
We'd spend our lives
Living in a rock 'n' roll dream
Oh those days are gone
Time moving on
Make me feel that I want to be
Back in the game again
(Take me where the music's playing
Where there's no tomorrow
High upon those summer nights
If I could be) Back in the game

Vision of the past
Re-awake the heartbeat of
A generation, we thought
The years had lost

Oh those crazy nights
We'd spend our lives
Living in a rock 'n' roll dream

Oh those days are gone
Time moving on
Make me feel that I want to be
Back in the game again
Take me where the music's playing
Where there's no tomorrow
High upon those summer nights if
I could be) Back in the game again

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


River Of Dreams

John’s first contribution (and, incidentally, the first time that he has written the title track of a BJH album) begins with a country-ish introduction before developing into a catchy sing-along, in stark contrast to the lyrics, which deal with looking back on life in disillusionment. The song was first performed live in November 1995 and written just after the band had been embroiled in a long-running court case brought by Robert Godfrey.

Lyrics:
When I was a young man
Money was my hero
Something to believe in
Something to be seen

Now looking at the big lie
Looking back on my life
I'm adding up the zeros
In the book of might have been

When I was a young man
I was someone’s hero
Someone to be seen with
Someone to believe

Now looking at the big lie
Looking back on my life
All that dirty water
In the river of my dreams

All that dirty water in my dreams

When I was a young man
Being cool came easy
Playing in the big lights
Trouble came for free

Now looking at the big lie
Looking back on my life
Trying to find the good seed
Now I’m down here in the weeds

All that dirty water in my dreams
All that dirty water in my dreams

When I was a young man
Music was my saviour
Took me to the fast lane
Answered all my needs

Now looking at the big lie
Looking back on my life
All it did was show me
All the things that might have been

All that dirty water in my dreams
All that dirty water in my dreams
All that dirty water in my dreams
All that dirty water in my dreams

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Yesterday's Heroes

Dating from the same period, "Yesterday’s Heroes" also has a very retrospective theme, with Les’s lyrics facing up to those who would try to "keep the (BJH) flame from burning" in defiant mood. It begins with a hypnotic Pink Floydian feel, then some powerful guitar riffs set the scene for a potential BJH classic.

Lyrics:
And so the time has come
To fight for right or wrong
There is no-one
To save us from ourselves

Along the travelled road
A story will unfold
Of fantasies
Born in the age of innocence

I can see the rain begin to fall
Watch as the wind blows
Can you hear those voices when they call
Yesterday’s heroes

A game of consequence
We have to take the chance
And do our best
To keep the past alive

Soon we will return
A lesson to be learned
By those who try
To keep the flame from burning

I can see the rain begin to fall
Watch as the wind blows
Can you hear those voices when they call
Yesterday’s heroes
Yesterday’s heroes
Yesterday’s heroes

Here we're helplessly
Searching for truth
Is it me, is it you?
Will our lives just crumble away?

I can see the rain begin to fall
Watch as the wind blows
Can you hear those voices when they call
Yesterday’s heroes
Yesterday’s heroes
Yesterday’s heroes

[Les Holroyd (additional arrangement Kevin McAlea), © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Children Of The Disappeared

John’s next song is a brilliant evocation of the climate of fear which affects the parents of young children in these less innocent times. Musically, the sparse, piano led beginning and end and the beautiful string accompaniment recall the melodies of Love’s Forever Changes, whilst the middle section takes BJH into previously unexplored areas - still innovative after all these years! A magnificent, emotionally affecting song.

Lyrics:
He was born on easy streets
Played so hard his feet they
never touched the ground
Never felt afraid
Hour after shining hour
No thought of time no parents worrying
Innocent of fear

Now my, my, look at that sky
Closing his eyes on a new tomorrow
Hey, hey, Heaven's in tears
Crying for the disappeared

She grew up on easy streets
Danced so hard her feet they
never touched the ground
Love was all around
No locks on their front door
She'd stay out late and
they'd know she was safe
No need to beware

Now my, my, look at that sky
Closing his eyes on a new tomorrow
Hey, hey, Heaven's in tears
Crying for the disappeared
My my look at that sky
Turning his back on a generation
Hey, hey, Heaven's in flames
And no one wants to take the blame
Blame for children of the disappeared

Chant:
Bleeding, crying, children, dying
My, my, look at that sky
Turning his back on a new tomorrow

Spoken:
Their life with never be the same
For children who disappear
and parents who live in fear

No more the easy streets
No sound of children's footsteps on the ground
Fear lies all around
No more the unlocked door
No more the children laughing as they play
Nowhere left that's safe

Now my, my, look at that sky
Closing his eyes on a new tomorrow
Hey, hey, Heaven's in tears
Crying for the disappeared
My, my, look at that sky
Turning his back on a generation
Hey, hey, Heaven's in flames
and no one wants to take the blame
Blame for children of the disappeared

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Pool Of Tears

A great contrast here, as John shows his lighter side with a song about lost love. There is a touch of "Origin Earth" about the melody, but with an unusually jazzy feel, maybe due to the new session musicians.

Lyrics:
The truth is never easy
And the game of life is hard
It's Devil take the loser
When love is hard to find
I'm living in a cold world
And winter's got my heart
I thought it was for ever
Right from the start

Just when I thought that I'd got things right
You turned your back on me
Just when I thought that
I'd worked things out
You said please set me free
Turned your back on me

It wasn't just a good thing
I never would have stayed
You brought me to your altar
And at your feet I prayed
Your beauty I believed in
And no shadow crossed my heart
I thought it was for ever
Right from the start

Just when I thought that I'd got things right
You turned your back on me
Just when I thought that I'd worked things out
You said please set me free
Turned your back on me

Why did I never think the clouds would break
The sky would rain a pool of tears
Now as the mist comes down this voice cries out in fear
Where are you, why are you not here?

Just when I thought that I'd got things right
You turned your back on me
Just when I thought that I'd worked things out
You said please set me free

Just when I thought that I'd got things right
You turned your back on me
Just when I thought that I'd worked things out
You said please set me free and
Turned your back on me
Just turned your back on me

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Do You Believe In Dreams (Same Chance For Everyone)

Back to Les, now, for a song with a romantic flavour and harmonies which recall earlier classics like "Jonathan".

Lyrics:
High, low, here we go
Hear the word
That floats upon the air above
Reach up, touch the night
Catch a light
That's falling on the only ones
The only ones

And the way you see your life
A case of "do or die"
Returns us to the way
It used to be before
And the future lies
In the years of sacrifice
You'll open up your eyes
And wake to see it
Standing at your door

Right time turn it on
Touch a heart
That's waiting for the only one
Night time, can't go wrong
Open up and sing the song
For everyone

And the way you see your life
A case of "do or die"
To preserve your sanity
When others lose control
And the years we spent
Heaven blessed or heaven sent
Sang where kings and presidents
Could change the world
Just standing at the wall!

Why, tell me why, don't you know
Do you believe in dreams?
Tell me where did they go?
Why did they leave us?

If you ask me I don't know.
Where did the music go?
After all is said and done
Same chance for everyone

If you ask us we can't say
When did the music go away
After all is said and done
Same chance for everyone

Why, tell me why, don't you know?
Do you believe in dreams?
Tell me where did they go?
Why did they leave us?

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


(Took Me) So Long

A slower ballad from Les, showcasing some more of Les’s classical guitar expertise as well as some moody lead playing from John. Some neat key changes and a contrasting middle eight add the icing to the cake.

Lyrics:
I've been so lost
Too uncertain
Down the long road
Walked on
Got the feeling
Deep inside me
I've waited so long

The mountain we're climbing
We're reaching so high
We're looking for someone
And wondering why
It's hurting too much
And we're searching so far
Hoping for love
To go on
When the best has gone

I was fallen
And forgotten
Found the answer
On the winds of time
Only heartache
Here tomorrow.
If there is no-one
To open up your life

Took me so long
I know just where I'm going
Took me so long
Know that you're the one
Took me so long
You're lighting up the fire
In my heart

And the mountains we climb
Seem to go higher
Look for someone
And we're wondering why
It's hurting too much
And we're searching so far
Hoping for love
Waited so long

Took me so long
I know just where I'm going
Took me so long
Know that you're the one
Took me so long
You're lighting up the fire
In my heart

If I had to spend my life
With someone else
I would rather be here
On my own
But it's all right
We will live and learn
Long as we have love
We can never be alone

(Took me) so long
Know just where I'm going
Took me so long
Know that you're the one
Took me so long
You're lighting up the fire
In my heart

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Mr. E

John’s affection for The Beatles is in evidence again here with a musical quote from "Strawberry Fields Forever", but the lyrics here are as devious as anything he’s written. One interpretation would be that he’s referring to the drug ecstasy, but the song can be read on many levels. Ultimately, the subject, as John undoubtedly intended, is a mystery...

Lyrics:
I know that you think I'm the lonely one
Those black clouds always follow me
No silver lining there for you to find
No star-struck prince on bended knee

And every day you're searching hard
For something you can't find
Broken dreams and promises
The feelings you can't hide
You fool yourself there's nothing wrong
'Cause truth is on your side

I'll take your truth and give you back a lie
My secret lives in your deceit
Innocence crumbles in the face of your greed
That's why they call me Mr. E

And every day you're searching hard
For something you can't find
A hollow-hearted love that pays
With pictures for the blind
My vision is a window to the
Bottom of your soul
This blindness is the way you feel
About yourself and no one else

Let me take you down to the river side
Hold your hand and lead you in
I can take you down to the river side
But only you can swim

I know no magic forest in this part of town
No mystic rainbow's end, no gold for free
The colours lift you up I push you down
That's why they call me Mr. E

And every day you're searching hard
For something you can't find
The pomise lies in endless dreams
A nightmare's what you find
My promise is a window to
The bottom of your soul
This nightmare is the way you feel
About yourself and no one else

Let me take you down to the river side
Hold your hand and lead, lead you in.
I can take you down to the river side
But only you can swim

Let me take you down, down to the river side
Hold your hand and lead you in
I can take you down to the river side
But only you can swim

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


Three Weeks To Despair

No doubts here, as John tackles the subject of homelessness. Inspired by two articles in The Sunday Times written by Margarette Driscoll, the song has a dreamy melody, almost like a lullaby, but the chilling quotes from a homeless man whom John and Martin interviewed in Stockport are enough to touch the most cynical heart.

Lyrics:
Time now an empty shell
Memories in the broken glass
The daily journey to despair
Where luck's poured out till nothing's left
And she wants to run away
Away from the light
And the rain falls and the night calls
In the shadows we've all passed

Life like an empty book
With pictures that fade and die
Tears in a bottle of dreams
Schemes that never last
He wants to runaway, away from the lies
And the rain falls and the night calls
In the shadows we've all passed

Hope in an empty box
Reality in a paper cup
Empty in a hungry world
Did they fall or did we push?
And they want to run away
Away from the fight
And the rain falls and the night calls
In the shadows we've all passed
Rain falls and the night calls
In the shadows we've all passed

Spoken by the homeless man:

"I start about half eight in the morning, right, I do a bit of begging, like, till about nine at night-time."

“There’s only one problem with the police - they keep moving me on.”

“It’s hard to make friends these days, they tell me.”

“I was in Stockport, once, right, begging, and I was kicked in the face.”

“I know I look a bit dirty and scruffy and so on.”

“I haven’t had a bath now for two weeks - bad news, isn’t it? I don’t smell, do I?”

“All right, you’ve got to have a joke, sometimes.”

“I haven’t slept for two nights, now.”

“The last two places where I stopped, the kids burned it down.”

“They poured petrol on a homeless guy - they set him alight.”

"Why can’t he go out and get a job?"

Behind every tatty sleeping bag
and cardboard box there is a human being
with a family, a history and a personality

[John Lees, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


The Time Of Our Lives

We finish where we began, with a fine song from Les. Lots of acoustic guitars and a memorable melody ensure that the album ends on an upbeat note.

Lyrics:
Dream on
Sail on the wind of a stormy sea
Wake from the sound of an age
Gone forever?
But it's all right
We'll survive
This is the time of our lives

Out on the streets and boulevards
See the way they run
A future of uncertainty
The word against the gun
Where have they gone?
Who are the ones who will help us all?
We stand or we fall

Open your eyes
We're on the ride
Who will survive?
This is the time
The time of our lives

Dream on
Follow the night
Through a darkened sky
We never wanted to be
Here forever
So we teach our ways
In the name of reality
And constantly we plant
The seeds of hatred in
The children of the world
But it's all right?

Out on the streets and boulevards
See the way they run
A future of uncertainty
The word against the gun.
Where have they gone?
We are the ones who could change it all
Divided we fall

Open your eyes
We're on the ride
Who will survive?
This is the time
The time of our lives

[Les Holroyd, © BJH Ltd/Handle Music Ltd]


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