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Barclay James  Harvest - Live Tapes CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.73 | 75 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Three songs will remain from their legendary and brilliant "Live '74") : "Mockingbird" (still played today and as unevitable than "Aqualung" from Tull or "Smoke" for Purple), "Crazy City" and "For No One".

While "Mocking" (the oldest song played here from "Once Again" in 1971) is a good rendition (harder than the original), I still prefer the one of their first live album. IMO, it will never be matched.

From the very first notes of "Crazy City", one immediately feels that something is completely wrong with the guitar sound. Awful, really. The comparison betwen the two versions is extremely easy. Of course this has never been a great BJH song, but they made a complete mess out of it on "Live Tapes".

"For No One" is played faster as if BJH was in a hurry. It affects noticeably the quality of this great song. These last two come from "Everyone...". Fortunately, the opening number on these "Live Tapes" and the third song of this very good studio album will be superbly played and be one of the highlight on this effort.

I may sound as an old man (which I am) telling that everything was better in the good old days, but let's be realistic, it is very easy to determine which live version is superior. Without the slightiest doubt.

From their average "Time Honoured Ghosts", two songs are delivered. Amongst the most average ones : "One Night" and "Jonathan" while I would have expected "In My Life", "Titles" or my fave one "Moongirl".

The next BJH release is the one I consider as their last very good album. "Octoberon" will feature several great prog moments of which only one is here : "Suicide?" : as emotional as the original. Another highlight.

But what about "May Day" and "Ra" ? Forgotten. Instead, we'll get "Rock 'n' Roll Star" and "Polk Street Rag". Both were the most rocking songs from the album. I guess it is useless to tell you that this side of their work is not their best. They were never considered as a rock band and never will.

I suppose that they were facing their more progressive and interesting work with their back, which will inevitably result in Wolly's departure. "May Day" could have sound great with the choirs at the end of the song replaced by some fabulous mellotron. But nothing as such, unfortunately.

Their weakest Polydor effort so far is undoubtfully "Gone to Earth". Four songs from this one made their entry on this live set. Two poor ones : "Hard Hearted Woman" and "Taking Me Higher", a great one : "Poor Man's Moody Blues" by far the highlight of the studio album as well as one of this live release and finaly "Hymn" which is finally cleared from these heavy orchestrations of the studio work and which sounds far much better so. A very good version to close this album.

There will be of course some good BJH on this live album but there is no comparison at all between their first two live albums.

While the first was all symphony and majesty, this one is rather uninspired. They could have easily produced a very good live effort from the same studio albums, should have they opted for more prog songs.

But in these days, BJH was moving to a more poppy and commercial period. Of course, they can hardly be blamed for being successful commercially. But Genesis and Yes will also be less appealing to my ears when they will sell like never before. So, I guess I am wrong (although lots of progheads think as I do).

Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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