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Barclay James  Harvest - Barclay James Harvest Live CD (album) cover

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST LIVE

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

4.36 | 84 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Hercules
5 stars I first came across BJH when a friend lent me their new album "Once Again" in my final year at school. I was impressed with some of the songs and the overall style, but felt the album was too patchy to buy. I listened to all their other albums over the next year or two with the same feeling; some great songs, some fillers. (This may explain why they are classed as very much a second class band, not usually mentioned in the same breath as Genesis, Yes and the other giants. Ironically, they achieved enormous commercial and critical success on the continent, especially Germany, whilst remaining a cult band in Britain)

However, in 1974, I caught them in concert during the tour promoting the "Everyone is Everybody Else" album and they were a revelation. When this live double album was released, I snapped it up and have loved it ever since. The tracks selected are the very best of their first 5 studio albums and functions pretty well as a "best of" up to that time (much better than "Early Morning Onwards"!). There is no filler here, siince every single song is of high quality and a few (Crazy City, Galadriel and the epic finale Mockingbird) are classics of prog. The whole album is drenched with Mellotron, the vocals from Holroyd and Lees are tuneful and there is some fine guitar playing. The lyrics are interesting and reflect on many topics; the futility of war, love and modern life, but for sheer perfection listen to the exquisite poem that is Galadriel. The production of the album is a bit rough and ready and the mixing could have been clearer but it catches the mood of the concerts well. Several songs, especially Summer Soldier and Medicine Man, are vast improvements on the studio tracks. They can play it heavy (Medicine Man, Mockingbird) or delicate (Galadriel, For No One) with equal facility.

They made some worthy albums after this (including a couple more fine live albums), but this is by far the best thing they ever did and is one of the few cases where a live album improves on their studio offerings by a huge margin. Unreservedly recommended, but try to get the 2005 remasters, since the double vinyl and first release CD are sonically quite poor. Once you have this, there is no real need to buy any earlier albums since all the best tracks are here.

Hercules | 5/5 |

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