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

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST LIVE

Barclay James Harvest

 

Crossover Prog

4.38 | 81 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "The eyes of night march slowly by, the last grain falls, the kneeling man just sighs..."

It's strange thing how I've followed Barclay James Harvest three most famous live records! First of all I bought Berlin (1982), then Live Tapes (1978) and now Live (1974) dressed in the new 2005 remastered reissue. Respectevely "good", "excellent" and "masterpiece"! No doubt about that.

After the band was dropped off by the Emi's management (1973), their musical experience seemed to be near the end. All the four albums for the great label that is said to have taken the name of "Harvest" from this band itself (the band exists from 1967, first single released in 1968 was Early Morning) did not reach commercial success nor the radio airplay they hoped. Fortunately the BJH quartet managed to sign a contract under Polydor label and to release another memorable studio album in 1974: Everyone Is Everybody Else which, strange thing indeed, did not chart!

The agreement between the two record companies involved the option for Polydor to issue a live album containing material from their previous four albums. Paradoxally was that their first appearence in the U.K. Top 40 official charts!

The live sound of the band is captured perfectly. The remastered version comforts me for being born only in 1977 and haven't taken part to those memorable 1974 live shows at the Drury Lane Royal Theatre and at the Liverpool Stadium! Erik Neuteboom was right to say this album deserves the attention of any good progrock lover! The band captured in their peak of powers. Only one thing has to be pointed out: the absence of their well known mellow acoustic guitar. By the way this isn't enough to deprive this original double live album of its well deserved five stars rating!

Summer Soldier is the opener track taken from the Baby James Harvest album (1972), their last one under Emi label. Immidiately the mellotron erupts from the silence. Yeah, it's clear it has a more prominent role in the live conception of Barclay James Harvest. A classic BJH' song, immortal piece about the futility of war: "...is it love or hate, is it peace or war, it's for sure there's no in between...". Excellent vocals by John Lees. Long instrumental interlude for this 10,19 mns track. Wooly's mellotron is very surprising: this is the first proof!

Medicine Man, one of my best favourite BJH' songs ever, taken from their third 1971 album "Other Short Stories". Well, I've to be more precise, this version of Medicine Man does not derive from their third album, but from a single published in 1972. No strings but a catching electric guitar riff with a memorable mellotron support. Now the support seems to be the guitar itself! Excellent drums and bass parts provided by Mel Pritchard and Les Holroyd. 10,27 mns of pure pleasure. Similar in structure with that version from the 1977 Live-Ep. Unfortunately there the sound's quality was very poor. Fortunately their 1974 Live album heal the wounds! Here you can here to other wonderful surprises arising from the Wolstenholme placement!! In particular to a stunning and unexpected keyboard's solo! One of the best songs ever!

Do you think to have some relax? Crazy City's here, from the then current album Everyone Is Everybody Else. The first song penned by Les Holroyd in this live tour de force, one of his best ones! Not longer than the original one, though, but other 5,00 mns of high quality standard.

After the band's members presentation it's up to another highlight from their third work: After the Day (7,11 mns long). Great contribution from Wooly, another time! The obscure and empty landscape after a nuclear disaster..."...is there nothing left to see, is there nothing left at all, after the day...". Vocals here are provided by Wooly Wolstenholme as in the original studio album, even if the song is written by Lees (Wooly in "Other Stories" wrote the previous song, the mythic "The Poet", thought to be the introduction for After the Day.

Another precious gem from the pen of John Lees: The Great 1974 Mining Disaster, taken from their 1974 studio album. More introvert piece, more relaxing atmosphere for a double lenght track than the original one. More elaborated instrumental parts.

That sweet and delicate atmpsphere is mantained with Galadriel one of their most famous tracks taken from their second album titled "Once Again". It is quite known a great passion of all the bands' members for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Negative Earth (1974) is another one invented by the prolific Leslie Holroyd and it's inspired by a famous mission in outer space in which the astronauts were very lucy to survive! "For fifty five days I've been flying around the world...all I've got to do is sit and cry...". Excellent indeed!

Ohhh yeah, finally I can here to another great favourite of mine: the superb She Said, from their second work released in 1971. The song originally was formed of the union of two different tracks by Les Holroyd and features Wooly also on vocals as he used to do in the first three releases. Impressive arrangements and PATHOS with a quasi-pastoral interlude in the middle part. The second track here it is a crime to forget!

Now it's up to Paper Wings (1974) written and sung by Holroyd. The song starting is soft and delicate, but then, from the half of the execution all instruments run to their apex! For nth time far better than the original studio version!

For No One is the closer of Everyone Is Everybody Else and always had a special place in my heart due to the fact of its sadness magnified by its pompous mellotron. "Please lay down your pistols and your rifles...please lay down your thoughts of being no one. Concentrate on what you ought to be". Another memorable track penned by John Lees.

Finally it could not miss perhaps the most famous track by Barclay James Harvest (comparable only with Hymn): Mockingbird (from Once Again). A strange vocal duo for my ears: Wolstenholme and Lees together...around them the wonderful frame of this miliar stone in all the melodic symphonic prog sub genre! Electric guitar seems to be agonizing and proud chant of whom thinks all it's lost, but he's wrong...

In conclusion: I'm enthusiastic for this recent cd purchase (despite the fact of the absence of any acoustic guitar): the REAL missing piece in my personal Barclay James Harvest' s collection cd! Extremely recommended in its new remastered re- issue!

Andrea Cortese | 5/5 |

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