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Barclay James  Harvest - Glasnost CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.93 | 32 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Let me get this straight. I am not a fan of Barclay James Harvest. I usually find the music this band produces often too soft and the instrumental side of the music not too interesting. But this was the album that made me interested. When I bought this album when it was just released, the cd format was beginning to become more popular than the lp. The band makes use of the possibilities of the new cd format well by expanding it's length to 70 minutes.

This was a free concert for the people of Berlin which at the time still was divided in two parts by the wall. The title was referring to the politics of Gorbatjov. He wanted more transparent communications with the people and the rest of the world. Although the new politics still weren't coming through as many people of East Berlin only could watch the gig from a distance being kept away by the wall and security agents of the old regime. Anyway, some 130,000 people did enjoy the show. The progressive heyday of this band was long gone at the time but the album could be considered as their strongest effort of the eighties. The sound of the album holds more AOR than real prog but who would expect otherwise in 1988 ? After all a major record company was still releasing album's from this band. On stage the trio was joined by a couple of backing musician who provided the band from a massive sound with lots of keyboards. The good news about this album is that it rocks ! Tracks like "alone in the night", "hold on", "Love on the line" or "Medicine man" do have balls which isn't always the case for Barclay James Harvest. "Alone in the night" could stand the comparison with many other American AOR music which was quite popular in that era. "Hold on" has an enjoyable chorus but comes closer to pop. "Medicine Man" is one of the oldest tracks which are present but seems to have become a timeless gem. It's hypnotic rhythm includes ethnic influences. Great track ! Naturally those influences are also present in "African" which has an interesting lyric about social commentary concerning apartheid, the rich leaders of the African countries and their poor people. This splendid version is definitely the highlight of this album. On Face to face, their previous studio album, this was just another track. Here it's a standout thanks to the massive keyboards on the background, the heavy guitar chords, the harmonic vocals and the excellent sound overall. The aforementioned album is omni present in the track listing of Glasnost. "Love on the line" is a track from an album called "Eyes of the universe" one of the finest albums of the band to my humble opinion . Here the space sound of the original album is drawn to the background unfortunately. "Berlin" is another track that only comes to it's right when it's performed live. On "twelve" it sounds bloodless but this version does sound awesome due to the live atmosphere and the great melody. Not a coincidence the band ever did record this track as they use to be more popular in Germany than in their native country. " Hymn" is another highlight of the bands history, a religious inspired track that is played not very differently from its original version. I suppose the inclusion of a classic like "Poor man's moody blues" is inevitable, without this, Glasnost wouldn't be a proper BJH live album but I can't say I like to hear it on other occasions than weddings. Even though it's a nice track, it's just a little tame for me.

This is a highly enjoyable prog pop album to get to know some of the classic highlights of this band but don't expect too much musical excitement. All the tracks have strong melodies, nice vocal lines and a decent instrumentation. The sound quality is simply perfect and the sound of some tracks is improved compared to the studio versions. Don't forget these are still the eighties and this is noticeable on some of the tracks and in the electronic drumming which sound completely out of date. Nice album to start with.

Fishy | 3/5 |


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