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Barclay James  Harvest - BJH Through The Eyes Of John Lees: Revival - Live 1999 CD (album) cover

BJH THROUGH THE EYES OF JOHN LEES: REVIVAL - LIVE 1999

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

3.29 | 19 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Old songs (new story)!

After several mediocre studio albums in the 80's and 90's, John Lees and Les Holroyd went their separate ways. But, somewhat surprisingly, this did not lead to the demise of Barclay James Harvest. Instead, these two principle songwriters each formed their own version of the band! While drummer Mel Prichard followed Holroyd into 'Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd', John Lees recruited old member Woolly Wolstenholme (who had originally left the band in the late 70's) for his own 'Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees' (later just 'John Lees' Barclay James Harvest'). The latter group released a studio album in 1999 called Nexus which contained both new songs and remakes of older songs. Given the expectations that naturally came with the return of Woolly to the fold, Nexus was a disappointment. None of the new songs were up to par with the classics and the somewhat lame remakes offered nothing new for the fans.

The present live album was recorded on the tour in support of Nexus and features some of the new songs from that album in addition to a large number of classic Barclay James Harvest tunes, many of which had not been performed live since Woolly was in the band i.e. since the 70's. If Nexus had been a disappointment, the return of the band to the stage proved to be a much more interesting event. The expectations raised by Woolly's return were finally met!

The set list included such old standards as She Said, For No One, Mocking Bird and Poor Man's Moody Blues plus some unexpected old numbers like The Iron Maiden, Harbour and Galadriel. Several songs feature Woolly on lead vocals to great effect. Despite the band name, this is as much Woolly's band now as it is John's and the two gentlemen sympathetically share the limelight "democratically".

The new songs from Nexus like Festival! and Brave New World work slightly better live than they did in studio form and River Of Dreams, originally from the album of the same name (which was the last album before the Lees/Holroyd-split), is improved here in comparison with its studio counterpart and becomes here a surprisingly moving Lees-led piano ballad.

This version of the band had continued till the present day and as can be seen on the very good recent live DVD called Legacy, the emphasis on older material has become even stronger. For those who (rightly!) lost faith in the band in the late 70's/early 80's, I would thus recommend this live DVD over the present live album. Revival though is true to its title and was at the time of its release easily the best release, live or studio, from the band since the 70's. Who would have thought they still had it in them after all those years?

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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