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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest A Concert For The People (Berlin) album cover
3.19 | 76 ratings | 12 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Berlin (5:37)
2. Loving Is Easy (4:29)
3. Mockingbird (7:25)
4. Sip Of Wine (4:38)
5. Nova Lepidoptera (6:01)
6. In Memory Of The Martyrs (7:44)
7. Life Is For Living (3:58)
8. Child Of The Universe (5:39)
9. Hymn (5:27)

Total Time: 50:58

Line-up / Musicians

- Les Holroyd / vocals, bass, guitars
- John Lees / vocals, guitars
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion
- Colin Browne / keyboards
- Kevin McAlea / keyboards

Releases information

LP Polydor POLD 5052 (1982)
CD Polydor 800 026-2 (1983)
CD Eclectic ECLCD 1050 (2006) (remaster)

In 1989 like part of the enciclopedia "Il Rock" by De Agostini (Italy) this album was republished with #64 (in MC and LP). This is apparently an official Poygram International music B.V. since have 2 cat. code (Polygram: 834 979-1 and De agostini: IGDA 1129/130). In every case is published with an official license but with totally different artwork.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Mandrakeroot for the last updates
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST A Concert For The People (Berlin) ratings distribution

(76 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST A Concert For The People (Berlin) reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars At least the Germans like us!

Recorded live in Berlin in front of 250,000 people, this is a fine representation of just how big BJH became in continental Europe. While still languishing in relative obscurity in their native UK, they were a headline act in the likes of (West) Germany where their albums sold in their truckloads.

The track listing leans heavily on their Polydor recordings with their album "XII" contributing a significant proportion of the songs. Only the perennial "Mockingbird" remains from the Harvest years, the version here giving the song a new lease of life. The chosen selections are strong, highlights being the powerful "Nova Lepidotera", and the anthemic "Hymn". The performance is tight, and although the audience reaction is strong, the scale of the event is largely lost on an audio only recording. This may also be partly due to the fact that some of the music was re- recorded later in the studio and overdubbed.

For those who enjoy the music of BJH, this album makes a worthy addition to your collection.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars This very well attended gig from Barclay James Harvest in the historical German city Berlin showcases an inspired band that pleased the crowd with their pleasant but (for me a bit too) polished progressive pop, like "Loving is easy". The renditions from the Seventies era like "Mocking brid" and "Child of the universe" sound good but I miss the moving extra keyboard dimension from Woolly Wolstenholme. A year before I had witnessed the "Turn of the tide tour" in The Hague (Holland) and that one sounded far more symphonic. I think that on "A concert for the people" BJH choose a more mainstream track list. But in my opinion the 'Poor man's Moody Blues' deserved the attention and appreciation they got in Berlin!
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded on August 30th, 1980 at a free concert on the steps of the Reichstag, near the Berlin Wall.. This concert was probably the single most important gig that Barclay James Harvest have ever done, so it was natural to produce a live album. Unfortunately, while the concert itself was a triumph, just about everything that could go wrong with the recording, did - they told that John's main guitar was damaged during the afternoon and was almost inaudible in the mix. The band reluctantly decided to record a lot of new overdubs at Strawberry, which is one reason that the LP didn't appear until 1982. The album was first released in Germany in February 1982 as a limited edition 11-track version on the Polystar label, with "Love On The Line" and "Rock 'N' Roll Lady" as the extra tracks, and went straight to No.1, for many weeks. Subsequent releases have only the nine tracks listed in progarchives. One interesting anomaly is that whilst in Germany and most other countries the album was titled Berlin - A Concert For The People, the English version reverses the order, presumably to make it sound less Germanic!! Anyway, n. 15 in the UK charts.

The most important live track here (in my opinion) is Hymn, of which you can hear the best live version. A great "shouted" version from John and from all the people of (West) Berlin!!!

By the way, not my favourite live album, not at the level of Live Tapes (BJH live-1974 is the only album missing in my complete BJH's collection).

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars As a record of an outstanding gig in front of a huge audience on the steps of Berlin's infamous Reichstag building, this album is a historic document in the BJH archives and a must-have for BJH fans especially for those who witnessed the spectacle. For others, however, there are complications resulting in a lacklustre product. Due to an electrical malfunction, some of the original tapes were unusable, so what remains is an amalgam of basic tracks from the concert augmented by a degree of studio overdubbing. While far from ideal, this was the only way of salvaging something from this importent event.

Whatever the reasons, and I do believe some commentators have seriously over-stated the amount of re-recording that took place, this is not the most artistically successful of BJH's live albums, though inevitably it was a commercial success. Perusing my listening notes, I come across phrases like "it's OK" [Berlin], "ultimately quite tame" [Loving Is Easy], "sounds flat and uninspired" [Mocking Bird], "OK without being spectacular" [Nova Lepidoptera], and "somehow fails to develop the excitement of the studio version" [In Memory Of The Martyrs]. It isn't that they are bad, it's just they don't stand out enough from studio originals or some other version.

Best and worst? For me, Sip Of Wine is the most successful song here. Though in itself a simple throwaway pop number, it is performed with much bounce and vigour, and crucially the coda sees the band at last stretch out, shifting into a different rhythm pattern and the guitar solo gets extensively reworked and extended. Low point for me has to be Child Of The Universe: it's still a good song, John sings it well and I can see why they played it at this concert, but Child .... without Woolly and his Mellotron is just not on. Oh, and it has some irritating tinkly piano constantly rubbishing about in the background. Oh, and Mocking Bird is just as disappointing!

I come across fans who rave about this album, but I just have to disagree. For a committed BJH fan it is a worthwhile purchase, enjoyable with some unspectacular nice songs but little to lift it out of the ordinary. Above all else, there is virtually no sense of occasion whatsoever despite the presence of a huge audience .... until the final track - Hymn - where John finally gets his own emotional juices flowing and a quarter of a million ecstatic fans at last join in. Yeah!

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I bought this live CD blindless a few years ago. I had the memorable souvenir of their magnificent "Live '74" still in my mind and said to myself : this can not be bad. Of course, when you look attentively to the songlist there is little to expect. Most of the tracks come from the average "XII" and the awful "Turn Of The Tide".

Fortunately we'll get some the good ones from "XII" like "Berlin" and "Nova Lepidoptera". While the studio version from "Hymn" and its awfull orchestrations could just bored me to death, I have to say that while played life, it turned out to be very pleasant. It is again the case here (as it was on "Live Tapes").

Two great songs from their earlier repertoire will also boost this live album : "Mockingbird" of course (I guess BJH played this number at each live set since "Once Again") as well as "Child of the Universe" from "Everyone". But I am afraid that four great tracks can hardly make a great live album.

BJH was extremely popular in Germany in those days. They could have released a wonderful live album, but therefore they should have played some more older songs, which was probably not the mood of the day. To date, this the poorest BJH live. Songs like "Loving Is Easy" and "Life Is For Living" are totally out of purpose on a live release. And we are lucky that no tracks from the disgusting "Eyes Of The Universe" album are featured.

Two stars. This one would have been a great EP.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I am surprised by the quite low rating this album A CONCERT OF THE PEOPLE-BERLIN is getting on PA. Is it the fact that it was issued during the 80s? maybe because the 3 BJH studio albums from this era were the worst they would release in their storied career? Maybe because WOOLY was not present? Or is it maybe it was just a single LP and not a double LP like ''LIVE'' and ''LIVE TAPES''l I don't know for sure, but for me this is a great recording.

Everybody knows about the significance of this concert where 250 000 berliners gathered at the Reichstag in Berlin to show support for the people of the other side of the city, still separated by the famous wall back then in 1982. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST was at the peak of their popularity in Europe, especially in all german speaking countries. Their recent album TURN ON THE TIDE had not much to offer to an old BJH fan but became their best-selling one as BJH has reached the soft-rock/Aor crowd with some dull synth-pop hits.

There is a lot to like on this release. Beside the historical aspect, this was a great concert; the track list is well balanced between oldies and the new tracks as only the better ones have been chosen for this event. One can always complaint about why this particular song was not included and why that 'stinky' one was performed. I don't know of any compilation, best-of or live albums that can satisfy every fan as each one has their own idea of the ideal best-of.

Also the band was on top form this evening; they play with passion, they sing their heart out especially JOHN LEES . The music is tight, definitely more powerful than what we can hear from the studio recordings .Some old classics like MOCKINGBIRD or HYMN have a edgier side than the originals and sound revigorated, full od dynamism and when LEES brings a lot emotions in his vocals like he does on this album, you have a winner.

Listen also to SIP OF WINE, this live version blows away the ''XII'' version, stronger vocals and definitely better musical creative interpretation. IN THE MEMORY OF THE MARTYRS the best track from the rather dull TURN OF THE TIDE gets an improved treatment here as well definitely more powerful and energetic. LIFE IS FOR LIVING is not their best tune for sure but i think it works well as live tune sure to please the crowds. Even LOVING IS EASY sounds more interesting as it is perfect for a live environment.

CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE, my definitive BJH song is also included so why should i not be happy with A CONCERT FOR THE PEOPLE?. Did i mention that the wonderful HOLROYD song 'BERLIN'' from 'XII' opens the album? If they wouldn't have performed it for this special night in BERLIN, when would they? A beautiful majestic rendition full of emotions clearing the way for a wonderful musical evening.There are really no bad tracks, no POLK STREET RAG or WAITING ON THE BORDERLINE or stuff like that to kill the charm.

Maybe A CONCERT FOR THE PEOPLE-BERLIN should have been released as a double LP back then as i am sure they played more songs this evening, but we have to be happy with what we got.A great concert, a band on top of his game full of energy,the attendance under the charm and the listener like me happy. This was a big commercial success as this album sold big time!


Review by kenethlevine
4 stars On paper, it doesn't look too good. Barclay James Harvest reduced to a threesome, having released 2 sub-par albums in succession in the early 80s, featuring guest keyboard players making 80s keyboard sounds. The group's artistic decline had begun, even if they were riding a wave of commercial popularity in Germany. Yet these shortcomings are compensated for by greater experience, a certain mellowing, and an ever improving sense of dynamics. While the first two live recordings could sometimes wear on the listener with their nearly incessant rock attack, particularly in the omnipresent lead solos, "Berlin" takes us on a virtual tour of the salient points of this period, and the results are more than satisfying.

My review is based on one of the first LP versions, which has a totally different running order and two additional songs, both originally on the mediocre "Eyes of the Universe" - the dreadful "Love on the Line" sounding like an Alan Parsons gone bad, and the rollicking "Rock 'n Roll Lady", rendered almost redundant by the superior and similar Sip of Wine.

Some of the highlights include the romantic keyboard laden "Berlin", the ponderous "In Memory of the Martyrs" which is far more successful as a live work than in the studio, mostly because of its lushness and acoustics, the spacey and solemn "Nova Lepidoptera", and the rousing closer "Hymn" . In general the keyboards are pretty well done for the time period, even if they don't come close to replacing Woolly. The audience is very much a part of the historic concert and clearly even the Brits, long accused of ignoring the group, caught wind of the significance of the concert and LP, for they propelled "Berlin" to Number 16 on the UK charts, the best showing ever by the group.

Buoyed by judicious track selection given the candidates, and an understated approach with accent on variety, this live recording is a valuable document of the live BJH of the early 80s. 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Live is for living

A Concert For The People (also known as Berlin) was Barclay James Harvest's third official live album. While Barclay James Harvest is certainly not among my favourite bands and this live album was not recorded during their strongest era, the result is pretty decent. Especially if you consider it as a live document representing that particular era of the band's history. It is, of course, completely out of order to compare this album with the band's classic first live album which I think is the band's best album period. On the other hand, I actually slightly prefer A Concert For The People over their second live album Live Tapes which is a pretty lifeless recording to my ears.

The selection of songs presented here is a good, but also quite short, representation of some of the better songs from this particular era of the band's long history. Newer songs like In Memory Of The Martyrs, Nova Lepidoptera and Berlin actually sit pretty comfortably beside older classics like Hymn, Child Of The Universe and Mockingbird. However, the studio versions of these songs are clearly better. I would have liked a couple of songs from the slightly underrated Eyes Of The Universe album, but I am happy that they did not include the supposed "classic" Poor Man's Moody Blues, a song I never liked! Sadly, there are also a couple of bad songs included here in Loving Is Easy and Sip Of Wine. I don't understand why Barclay James Harvest never managed to make a single album, live or studio (with the exception of Barclay James Harvest Live), without including at least one or two bad songs! Was it part of their trademark perhaps?

The sound of this album is not perfect, but it is still a listenable live recording. Short but decent. But I would not recommend this live album over the studio albums from which these songs were taken. And having this live album in addition to the studio albums is clearly only for fans and collectors.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I lost all interest in Barclay James Harvest after Woolly Wolstenholme left the band and judging from some of the songs that I've heard from the band's '80s output I've made the right choice. Still I was somewhat intrigued by this live album because so far Barclay James Harvest have proven themselves to be a great live band on their 1974 Barclay James Harvest Live and considering that A Concert For The People (Berlin) consisted mainly of the '70s hits I decided to give it a shot.

I've always imagined Berlin as an album opener and the song definitely does a good job at that although it doesn't really reach the same intensity here as on the studio version. The rest of the performances vary in quality. The worst example of that is Loving Is Easy which just feels as though the band is following their usual routine and lacks in every major category. I'm also a bit surprised at the performance of Mockingbird which just sounds out of place on this set list and would probably have worked better as an encore number.

All in all it's not the best live performance that I've heard from this band but I guess it served it's purpose and turned Barclay James Harvest into big stars in Germany. Still I wish that this would have happened while Woolly Wolstenholme was still in the band.

**** star songs: Berlin (5:37) Mockingbird (7:25) Sip Of Wine (4:38) Nova Lepidoptera (6:01) Life Is For Living (3:58) Child Of The Universe (5:39) Hymn (5:27)

*** star songs: Loving Is Easy (4:29) In Memory Of The Martyrs (7:44)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I was used to sayin' that this is the weakest BJH-Live-Album with John Lees on board while everybody's thinking of it as the "best", such was the hype about it. But it's a good one still, indeed, though a million miles away* from the brilliance on "Live Tapes"... my favourite track here is "Moc ... (read more)

Report this review (#67169) | Posted by rupert | Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Barclay James Harvest in the Eighties. In this album, the BJH show how the group is good alive. The highlights are a old numbers "Mockingbird" and "Child Of Universe" and others songs: "Nova", "In Memory" and "Berlin". It is a live classic and show the band with a sound more progressive then "Ey ... (read more)

Report this review (#22694) | Posted by | Monday, February 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Nope the East Germans were not allowed to listen to this wonderful concert. While the front runners of BJH were groups later titled as "Neue Deutsche Welle" (- horrible when you want to hear BJH only) BJH later had to perform in pouring rain. Guess a lot of the 250.000?? visitors have left durin ... (read more)

Report this review (#22691) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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