Top positive review
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Walsh's forgotten classic
on December 25, 2004
I try not to be the kind of fan who automatically gives an artist 5 stars, but 'Barnstorm' earns every star it gets. For those into classic rock, this is a must-own that you can't easily get. The stars aren't for breaking new ground, but they're for the best use of classic/folk-based rock I have ever heard. If you're sick of your "local classic rock station" playing the same damn things over and over, "Barnstorm" is a breath of fresh air.
This album does everything many later classic rock albums overdid or underdid. It has its share of hooks but doesn't rely on them and let the rest of the musicianship suffer. There are some truly beautiful mixtures of electric and acoustic textures I haven't heard anywhere else; "Here We Go" starts slow and soft with acoustic guitars, but picks up power and rocks to the end, and the incendiary "Turn to Stone" is punctuated with acoustic transitions between verses. There's not a weak track out of the bunch--from the 'Lord of the Rings'-inspired "Midnight Visitor" (which manages not to become wrapped up in itself like Led Zeppelin's Tolkien-influenced works did), to the well-textured instrumental "Giant Behemoth" featuring drummer Joe Vitale on flute, a morse-code message and a passage Walsh would quote later on "Songs for a Dying Planet" (the album, not the song), and a cover done so well as to be his own--though, to be fair, I've never heard the original--of the Magicians' "I'll Tell the World." Walsh even pays homage to Neil Young with "Coming Down." Lyrics are strong, and although he never had the sweetest voice (kinda like the aforementioned Neil Young), he still makes the songs shine, in addition to some of his best guitar work, both catchy and sublimely beautiful. This is a great album to put on and become enthralled in--put it on, turn it up, and let your mind absorb it.
I know there's a million "Any rock fan MUST OWN!" albums out there, but this truly earns the title--and gets left out, unfortunately, as MCA still hasn't reissued an American version. Perhaps with the re-release of "You Bought It--You Name It" and "Got Any Gum" (inferior releases, relative to this), "Barnstorm" and "The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get" will both get a long-deserved remastering; the Japanese import of Barnstorm is the only way for most fans to get the CD, but the sound quality of it is a bit sketchy, and may sound a bit thin on headphones.
But if you can get your hands on this in any medium (CD, cassette, vinyl, 8-tracks, etc.), do it. Whatever you pay, it'll be worth it.