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


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.28 | 19 ratings

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3 stars As live albums go this one has some stiff competition! It is probably fair to say Revival Live is unlikely to be preferred to Live (1974) or Live Tapes (1978), both of which are superb examples of the mother band in their Progressive prime. For me, and probably for most BJH supporters on PA, John Lees' version of BJH represents the more interesting current lineup, especially with Woolly Wolstenholme back in the fold, bringing his own eclectic outlook.

So, how does Revival Live compare? Well, it stands up surprisingly well actually! It has an interesting setlist covering some old favourites and newer songs from Nexus, both songwriters well represented and both performing well. Sorry to say this but Pritchard and Holroyd are not really missed too much. Both Fletcher and Whitehead do a sterling job, recreating the bass and drum parts while adding a little something of themselves.

Both John and Woolly are on form, but there are a couple of minor niggles. John's singing voice sounds as strong and assured as ever, but his guitar work is a little forced on a couple of underwhelming solos where the phrasing doesn't seem to flow as well as it should and one of the solos seems a touch uninspired. Woolly's playing is fine as always, but sometimes he struggles to project his voice, especially on lower notes, though harmonies and upper registers are no problem. Harbour is perhaps the low point vocally.

Material is a good selection of songs old and new. It's great to hear new renditions of three of the best songs ever written - She Said, For No-One and Galadriel - none of which stray too far from familiar territory though For No-One suffers from a gutless limp production. Even after all these years, the opening chords of She Said can still bring up the old goosebumps! One or two of the new Nexus songs stand-out too: a spirited romp through Festival works really well, while by contrast, the mellow spacey Star Bright just gets better with every listen.

My main criticism has to be that much of this material is too close to the originals. While dynamics may be slightly different in places, and some are fleshed out a little to allow for a solo, otherwise songs are presented more or less unchanged from their original arrangements, thus offering few new insights into the music. Consequently, while it is a very enjoyable hour-or-so trip through some of the best of BJH's back catalogue, Revival Live is less essential than it might otherwise have been. BJH fans should love it. Others would be better advised to look elsewhere.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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