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Barclay James  Harvest - Glasnost And Victims Of Circumstance CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.04 | 7 ratings

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3 stars This is a DVD compilation of two old videos from the 1980s when BJH were at their commercial peak in mainland Europe, so don't expect a rash of Prog classics! Both have been transferred direct from video with no additional processing. I find the picture quality quite adequate on my basic TV, but I could have done with a stereo sound mix. Packaging is minimal. Each film lasts approximately one hour, and is well worth the investment if you are happy with the AOR style of most of the material.

Glasnost is a film of the band's triumphant concert in 1987 behind The Wall in divided East Berlin to a large crowd estimated at up to 170,000 in the city's Treptower Park. By then, the band were used to playing to large audiences and clearly were enjoying themselves. The performances are all good, John in particular putting a lot of expression into his singing and playing some superb guitar licks while Les beams a smile around as he delivers one of his best vocal performances. Highlight for me is the angry African with Mel thrashing away, though the rousing finale of Life Is For Living and Hymn come alive with audience participation. Medicine Man would normally be a favourite, and is a good version, but it is a fish out of water here.

Victims Of Circumstance was filmed in London's Wembly Arena in 1984 [their biggest ever headlining gig in UK] at the height of the band's wannabe-new-romantics phase, complete with John's dodgy fashion sense. That aside, the band play well, and deliver a professional performance as always, though this period is the least loved today by fans. Overall, the set is not as spectacular or moving as Glasnost, and some viewers may find the presence of two female back-up singers - inc Sam Brown - a little strange! Stand-out song has to be For Your Love - this ordinary song is here transformed into a soaring classic that builds to a superb guitar solo from John. Again, an old classic - Child Of The Universe - is a welcome inclusion but is sadly out of place.

The VoC film was originally commissioned by Channel 4 TV company for broadcast in the UK. Presumably, it was they who hired TV producer Mike Mansfield to make some surreal, and frankly bonkers, film to replace parts of the performance visuals. It pops up at various points throughout, quite irritating and utterly unfathomable - it seems to be some sort of Elizabethan tragedy, but has no bearing on the music. Apart from that, this is an entertaining DVD containing some excellent performances.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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