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Barclay James  Harvest - Live Tapes CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.73 | 78 ratings

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5 stars I have to admit that this recording, after all these years, evokes the very same emotions as it did way back then, and I'm a fool for "Live Tapes". It features my favorite Band at the peak of their playing and many of my favorite songs in versions that, imho, can not be bettered, and... it does feature them in a very good sound quality: "Child of the Universe" ( the band themselves were never completely satisfied with their renditions, but this one kicks off the record with a climax per excellence ), "Rock'n'Roll Star", "Poor Man's moody Blues" ( I love the ending here - it's a keyboard-downward-spiral meeting the lead guitar's upward spiral in simplicity but that's the way I love it - compared to rather complex later renditions where things got mixed up and the structure of the arrangement got "confused" by simply too much to lesser effect ), "One Night" ( an underrated BJH-Classic featuring haunting backing vocals in the 3rd verse and a great guitar-solo by John Lees ! ), "Suicide ?" ( stripped down to a blistering song ), "Crazy City" ( full speed, don't like it when it's too slow ), "Jonathan" ( Les Holroyd's finest hour in songwriting now blowing your mind with its majestic ending ), "For No One" ( you can hear John Lees, Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard at the top of their playing, perhaps the best effort they ever came across with in terms of "Band-playing" ) & "Hymn" ( without the "Yeah" but with the Hammond - and the voices of John Lees, Woolly Wolstenholme and Les Holroyd together - just as I love to hear them ).

I can't be very objective about this album. It established BJH as my favourite band for life - and everything they did afterwards had to live up to this, especially live in concert. Well, to be honest, they never really could, and if, it happened to be moments, but those were moments of brilliance ( "She said" on "Revival", "The Poet/After the Day" on "Legacy", to name but a few examples and, as you can see, they had been achieved with Woolly Wolstenholme returning to John Lees, but I have fond memories of the 1990's show that, to my ears, was better than all the live-recordings BJH had released without Woolly and came close to what made me a lifelong addict ).

"Medicine Man", as one of the bonus-tracks of the remastered edition, is another one of those "definites", and, it has to be said, I'm deeply in love with the fuzzy guitar-sound on this record, something that I even heard fans complain about... it might be my heart, certainly it's an absolute subjective view ( and review ), this may be the reason why I've waited so long to write it, and Prog Lovers - I do understand - prefer the first "Live" -Album, but for one time let me make an exception, please, and give a 5 Star-rating to an Album that is and perhaps will always be my personal No. 1 out of everything I have bought. And this it is though my favoutite BJH-Song ( "Mockingbird" ) is not to be heard in my favourite version ( a bit too fast ! ) and, perhaps because they were to difficult to do in Concert, does not feature one of Woolly's masterpieces in songwriting.

You can, if you like, subtract 1 Star ( for those who like BJH ) or two ( for those who like BJH but only the "prog"-side ) but if you do as I tell you and play it loud ( really loud ! ) you should be able to experience the emotional thrill it's giving me... best Live Album ever.

rupert | 5/5 |


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