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Barclay James  Harvest - John Lees' Barclay James Harvest: Legacy - Live At The Shepherd's Bush Empire CD (album) cover

JOHN LEES' BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST: LEGACY - LIVE AT THE SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

4.00 | 14 ratings

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rupert
4 stars It`s been a long, long time since, on record, we have last heard from John Lees, but it was worth the wait.. at least for any fan and lover of the "old BJH"... "Legacy", in the first place, means: OLDIES, OLDIES, OLDIES... and, look at the tracklisting, the setlist could hardly have been any better ( "She said" is missing due to Woolly`s flue on the tour, and "Galadriel" is on the DVD which i still have to purchase but definately will next year ).

But first i wanna say what`s not that good on "legacy" and saves it from getting more than a ( bare ) 4 stars. Itīs... not only music from the 70s, it`s sounding LIKE coming fro the 70s, this means ot quite as good as "Revival" did. The mellotron - played fantastically by the gorgeous Mr. Wolstenholme - is a BIT too loud so up in high frequencies there`s not as much space/air left... the sound culminates in the MIDDLE, and this it does a bit too much. The singing... well, not half as horrible as Les Holroyd`s attempts lately, but especially John Lees has got his problems with intonation and lungpower... while Woolly Wolstenholme, in spite ( or by courtesy ? ) of his flue, sings his lead-vocals very, very beautiful... no sign of pressing like on "Revival" at times, and he`s hitting the notes very well.

You know that Mel Pritchard and Les Holroyd cannot be replaced... but Craig Fletcher ( bass/bv ) and Kevin Whitehead ( drums ) do their very best and, again compared to "Revival", have grown a better unit meanwhile... their playing together has improved and it`s only in parts when you hear "they can`t do this... they canīt do that... so it`s NOT quite as good as it was in the past"... in "For Noone", for example, it`s still obvious they manage to create a good groove but not the furious rocket to take you to space... but itīs better than on "Revival" cause Woolly`s playing them keyboard fills that can make you lose your mind ! "Mockingbird" does function well because of he new arrangement with which neither Craig Fletcher nor Kevin Whitehead are overburdened... this time it`s without keyboard-drum-sequencing, itīs all live completed with John Joseph Lees` jazzy cornet... to which you have to get used to cause though, technically, his playing is very very good he`s simply playing it VERY FREE and clashing with his father`s guitar as well as the keyboard-wall-of-sound just a bit too harsh at times.

But... to hear "Medicine Man" this strong... well, here you can`t really think of anything missing, it`s absolutely great and meant to become my future-favourite-version of it ( I`m still hooked on the" Glasnost"-performance that, by now, remained the only old song that i prefer to hear in a version without Wolstenholme ).

You can file "Poor man`s moody blues" and "Hymn" under "obligations"... not really necessary to have this way but a way to satisfy commercial requests so "Legacy" may sell better... well, they have to do them in concert, no question, but the fan doesn't really need every version on CD... though "Hymn" is indeed something different with J.J. lees on cornet ( this time very harmonically added ) again. "Child of the Universe" is good but you can`t expect any new rendition to come close or even beat out the one on "Live Tapes"... while "The iron maiden" now is even slower than it was since "Nexus" and just as fine as on "Revival".

What`s really making this release a must have for old hands are... "In Search of England" ,in spite of some blue notes by John Lees very very beautiful ( the original version on "XII" is unbeatable but tis one reaches the heart immediately and you shouldn't miss it ! )... "Poor Wages"... best version up to now... "the great 1974 mining Disaster", in spite of John`s singing not being that sure again i claim it to be the ultimate version of it up to now... and... you MUST hear this... the absolute climax of the show/disc: "The Poet/After the day" haunting, powerful and sensitive as well... definite... you`ve never heard it as good as this. Itīs a must have and deserves 5 stars for itself alone !!!! But this is the fan speaking, make up your own mind.

I wonder what Les Holroyd is thinking when he`s listening to the highlights on this album... his old partners don`t need an orchestra, they`re simply making it with the heart... and no matter what flaws anyone may find if heīs looking for them, for the fan itīs an absolute obligation to buy this... he won`t regret as won`t the average prog- listener who doesn't turn down BJH... it belongs to heir finest, still !

rupert | 4/5 |

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