Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Barclay James  Harvest Glasnost album cover
2.93 | 32 ratings | 9 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Live, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Poor Man's Moody Blues (7:16)
2. Alone In The Night (5:35)
3. Hold On (4:40)
4. African (6:22)
5. On The Wings Of Love (6:20)
6. Love On The Line (4:25)
7. Berlin (5:05)
8. Medicine Man (6:05)
9. Kiev (6:00)
10. Hymn (5:10)
11. Turn The Key (5:17)
12. He Said Love (5:15)

Total Time: 67:30

Recorded on July 14th, 1987 at Treptower Park, East Berlin

Line-up / Musicians

- Les Holroyd / vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
- John Lees / vocals, guitars
- Mel Pritchard / drums, percussion

Guest musicians:
- Bias Boshell / keyboards
- Colin Browne / keyboards
- Kevin McAlea / keyboards

Releases information

LP Polydor POLD 5219 (1988)
CD Polydor 835 590-2 (1988)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Joolz for the last updates
Edit this entry


BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Glasnost ratings distribution

(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (47%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars East meets West

BJH found a major success on both sides of the iron curtain at a time when Germany was still divided into East and West Germany. At the time, they had passed through a period of under-achievement, and were once again producing some of their best music.

It is ironic that while in their home country of the UK, they were and still are seen by many as "a second division" band, in Europe they have for many years been a headline act. Following on from their "Berlin" concert in West Germany they completed the double by playing in East Germany as part of Berlin's 750th birthday celebrations. The result was documented in this live album, which, while capturing their performance well, feels rather lifeless and ordinary. Predictably, the track "Berlin" from their "XII" album features on both this album and the "Berlin" album, the only other track which appears on both being the anthemic "Hymn".

Other than these, the tracks selections is reasonably safe leaning towards their more recent albums, but with the crowd-pleaser "Medicine man" and the excellent "Poor man's moody blues" representing the older school. The performances are unadventurous, with little to distinguish these versions from the originals.

In all, while this album makes for pleasant listening it is far from essential, unless of course you were actually there!

Review by Fishy
3 stars Let me get this straight. I am not a fan of Barclay James Harvest. I usually find the music this band produces often too soft and the instrumental side of the music not too interesting. But this was the album that made me interested. When I bought this album when it was just released, the cd format was beginning to become more popular than the lp. The band makes use of the possibilities of the new cd format well by expanding it's length to 70 minutes.

This was a free concert for the people of Berlin which at the time still was divided in two parts by the wall. The title was referring to the politics of Gorbatjov. He wanted more transparent communications with the people and the rest of the world. Although the new politics still weren't coming through as many people of East Berlin only could watch the gig from a distance being kept away by the wall and security agents of the old regime. Anyway, some 130,000 people did enjoy the show. The progressive heyday of this band was long gone at the time but the album could be considered as their strongest effort of the eighties. The sound of the album holds more AOR than real prog but who would expect otherwise in 1988 ? After all a major record company was still releasing album's from this band. On stage the trio was joined by a couple of backing musician who provided the band from a massive sound with lots of keyboards. The good news about this album is that it rocks ! Tracks like "alone in the night", "hold on", "Love on the line" or "Medicine man" do have balls which isn't always the case for Barclay James Harvest. "Alone in the night" could stand the comparison with many other American AOR music which was quite popular in that era. "Hold on" has an enjoyable chorus but comes closer to pop. "Medicine Man" is one of the oldest tracks which are present but seems to have become a timeless gem. It's hypnotic rhythm includes ethnic influences. Great track ! Naturally those influences are also present in "African" which has an interesting lyric about social commentary concerning apartheid, the rich leaders of the African countries and their poor people. This splendid version is definitely the highlight of this album. On Face to face, their previous studio album, this was just another track. Here it's a standout thanks to the massive keyboards on the background, the heavy guitar chords, the harmonic vocals and the excellent sound overall. The aforementioned album is omni present in the track listing of Glasnost. "Love on the line" is a track from an album called "Eyes of the universe" one of the finest albums of the band to my humble opinion . Here the space sound of the original album is drawn to the background unfortunately. "Berlin" is another track that only comes to it's right when it's performed live. On "twelve" it sounds bloodless but this version does sound awesome due to the live atmosphere and the great melody. Not a coincidence the band ever did record this track as they use to be more popular in Germany than in their native country. " Hymn" is another highlight of the bands history, a religious inspired track that is played not very differently from its original version. I suppose the inclusion of a classic like "Poor man's moody blues" is inevitable, without this, Glasnost wouldn't be a proper BJH live album but I can't say I like to hear it on other occasions than weddings. Even though it's a nice track, it's just a little tame for me.

This is a highly enjoyable prog pop album to get to know some of the classic highlights of this band but don't expect too much musical excitement. All the tracks have strong melodies, nice vocal lines and a decent instrumentation. The sound quality is simply perfect and the sound of some tracks is improved compared to the studio versions. Don't forget these are still the eighties and this is noticeable on some of the tracks and in the electronic drumming which sound completely out of date. Nice album to start with.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars To put the record straight, Glasnost was recorded at an open-air concert in Treptower Park, East Berlin two years before the hated Wall fell, in front of up to 170,000 East Berliners, some of whom paid a minimal fee while others got in for free after the ticket system collapsed. It is a document of that occasion in July 1987 when the band were invited by city authorities to participate in their 750th anniversary celebrations, going some way towards appeasing those fans who had been forced away from the eastern side of The Wall when trying to hear BJH's triumphant performance on the steps of the Reichstag in West Berlin some seven years earlier.

It is a stunning album from BJH, packed with some of their best performances augmented by a wonderful sense of atmosphere. This is how a live album should sound, and is everything the 'Berlin' album wasn't! I can find no issues to criticise sound-wise, even the mix is almost perfect. It has a powerful 80s AOR feel, with a gutsy production that successfully draws in the listener and strikes a balance between the band's rockier numbers and their more melodic side.

The band sound like they are really hot and cooking! All songs are performed with gusto, often spiritedly, sometimes faster, with more energy and bite than their studio origins. Arrangements, too, are re-worked with longer instrumental sections, sometimes moving into quite different territory, and solos are generally much longer and more developed. Personal favourites will depend on individual song preferences: Berlin, Kiev and He Said Love are all definitive versions but all songs are excellent and there are no lows or failures.

Pride of place must go the fantastic Medicine Man. This old 70s classic has been given a fresh coat of paint, improved by the extra musician who helps to flesh it out a little. Aside from a marginally weaker synth solo which fails to live up to Woolly's efforts from the past, everything about this rendition is almost perfect. It has balls! A properly aggressive, thundering giant of a song with a powerful guitar solo showing John at his very best. It doesn't get much better than this.

My only negative comments are relatively minor: dated keyboard sounds can occasionally intrude, especially an irritating plinky-plonky piano; there is no spoken interaction until John's German introductions to Hymn and He Said Love; there is little sense of the concert starting and ending - you feel as if you are 'dipping into' it, joining sometime after the start and leaving before the finish; material inevitably veers towards the band's later Prog-lite career; and, while the quality of performance is universally high, several songs would not be considered amongst the band's best.

Glasnost is hugely under-rated. The band play with a high level of professionalism [no overdubs necessary!], yet with an energy and enthusiasm that is both infectious and exciting. The mood of the occasion clearly inspired the band, and that is caught admirably by this excellent album. Had there been a few less throwaway songs and a few more classics, this album would be sensational! Performance-wise it merits five stars, but song choice drags down the score for Prog fans.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Several songs included on this live album comes from the best of BJH repertoire even though they don't belong to their earliest one (with some exception). Interesting to mention that you will NOT find "Mockingbird" on this live release...

We won't escape a few poor songs from their latest studio album of the time "Face To Face" of which "Turn The Key" is probably the worst of all together with "African". "He Said Love", as well as "Alone in the Night" were not great songs either. One of my favorite ones of this album "Kiev" is hopefully represented.

It will be one of the best songs featured here with "Berlin", "Hymn" and "Medicine Man" of course. But even if this version is good, it cannot compete with the one featured on their magnificent "Live 1974" : one of the best prog live record in my discography and the golden reference as far of BJH is concerned.

A special note as well for "Poor Man's Moody Blues" an older song as well. It is full of brilliance, emotion of course and splendour. But five great songs out of twelve aren't enough to make a great album I guess...Even if the event should have been spectacular (but I wasn't there to remind me this special moment in the music history).

Two stars.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I don't know if BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST got a street or a square renamed after them in Berlin, but they should! Not only did they write a wonderful song about the German city, but this is their second live album recorded in Berlin. Or maybe there is a JOHN LEES-strasse and a HOLROYD-strasse as well, sure to please the 2 singers as long they don't cross each other!!

In their own little way, BJH helped at the German reunification, maybe taking only one brick out of the wall but a hole was made where freedom wouldl find its way through! In 1982 they performed THE CONCERT OF THE PEOPLE in West Berlin in front of 250 000 fans and came back 6 years later on the other side of the wall for the city 750th birthday celebrations with no less than 170 000 east-germans in the attendance.One year later, the wall would crumble and Germany be reunited.

GLASNOST is almost a FACE TO FACE live version album as half of the 12 tracks comes from this good effort produced by the band one year earlier.Only 4 songs are from the golden 70s era.Even if GLASNOST cannot be compared to the grandeur of ''BJH LIVE'' and ''LIVE TAPES'', this is still a good live album from a band in good form. Moreover, the track selection is good as the 6 tracks from FACE TO FACE were all good songs (No PRISONER OF LOVE, PANIC or ALL MY LIFE here)

Let start with the classics: MEDICINE MAN is played with great power with this edgy hard hypnotic guitar riff. Sure to please all the fans of the band. The same goes for the renditions of POOR MAN'S MOODY BLUES and HYMN helped by a enthusiast Berlinese crowd.The song BERLIN is of course the 4 th tune from the 70s which get a grandiose treatment with bells serving as a solemn introduction.

There is nothing bad either to say about the FACE TO FACE tracks as they were all good already. AFRICAN is very powerful in live environment, a song to give you goose bumps as there is so much anger and emotion out of JOHN LEES voice. Other great LEES songs such as ALONE IN THE NIGHT and HE SAID LOVE are also included for our pleasure. The great HOLROYD ballad KIEV is well rendered as well.

The only 2 weak tracks are the 2 commercial ones from HOLROYD, but LOVE ON THE LINE still sounds better here than the original, as it sounds as a more powerful band effort and not just a synth-pop song! HOLD ON was so bad in the first place, this is very difficult to improve upon it.

GLASNOT is a good live album, great energy, great athmosphere with a vibrant crowd. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST is playing a lot of its 80s songs, but there are the good ones (almost).Not a must-have, but a good-have!


Review by progrules
4 stars I have to say I'm a bit surprised by the low average of this live album. When I still had this one on vinyl this was one of my very favourites. The songs on itself are already very good but in this live performance they surpass themselves probably impressed by the huge crowd in East Berlin at that time of course still communistic.

Anyway I think they make a great impression here and I love the executions of Alone in the night, Hold on en Love on the Line where especially John Lees does a very good job. It's just the last 3 tracks that are slightly disappointing, that's just a side of BJH I'm not too fond of.

But it doesn't spoil my overall conclusion for this album. It's a plain 4 stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars ...and Perestrojka!

Glasnost was the name of a (set of) reform(s) in the Soviet Union that introduced greater freedom of speech and transparency in the Communist Party. This led the way to Perestrojka which meant more economic freedom and finally to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war. The "cold war" between John Lees and Les Holroyd was just beginning and there was still almost ten years till they finally went their separate ways.

Given the rather unimaginative set list, this live album is surprisingly good. The second half of the album is particularly strong and both the band and the audience seem to be more energized than you might think it is possible to get by playing and hearing the music presented here! Like the previous live album, this one too was recorded in Berlin (?) and the band (is it Les or John?) speaks to the audience in German, successfully encouraging them to scream "yeah!" on several occasions between and even during songs! That kind of energy and audience interaction is not present on any other Barclay James Harvest live recording I know of certainly not on the lethargic Live Tapes and Berlin albums.

As I said, the first half of the album is a lot weaker than the surprisingly strong second half. The section that begins with Berlin (taken from the XII album) and continues with the progressive Medicine Man (from the And Other Short Stories album), the beautiful Kiev (the best song from Face To Face) and, finally, the famous Hymn (from Gone To Earth) is easily the strongest part of this live album and a very enjoyable portion it is. This section of the album proves that the band had it in them even at this point. Overall there are five songs from the 70's and seven songs from the 80's in the set list. Only four songs represent the Woolly Wolstenholme-era, only one of which (the aforementioned Medicine Man) came from the so called Harvest years (the band's first four studio albums). The latter is the only song here that can be said to be Prog in any sense of the term.

The first half of the album opens with the well known Poor Man's Moody Blues. This one has never been a favourite of mine, but I have to admit that this is a fine version. No less than six out of the twelve tracks are taken from the then most recent studio album, Face To Face. With the exception of Kiev, these songs are not very good and together with Hold On and Love On The Line from Victim Of Circumstance and Eyes Of The Universe respectively, the Face To Face tracks are the weakest songs of this live recording. He Said Love is Face To Face's answer to Hymn (and he who said love was none other than Jesus, of course) and this song proves to be a decent show closer after all.

Though it cannot be compared with the great first live album by the band or with the recent Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees' very good Legacy DVD, I must say that compared to Live Tapes and Berlin, Glasnost holds up pretty well. Besides, it is better than most of their 80's and 90's studio albums and therefore a reasonably good introduction to this weak era of the band.

Recommended for fans and collectors and anyone with a particular interest in this period of the band.

Latest members reviews

3 stars "Glasnost" was - after the direction BJH had taken on their "Victims"-Tour - a return to form with interesting new readings of classics such as "Berlin", "Poor Man's moody Blues", "Medicine Man" ( superb !!! ) and "Hymn"... I have to disagree to those who say they're close to the studio-versio ... (read more)

Report this review (#67814) | Posted by rupert | Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is good because it manages to bring most of hits onto one album. But on the other hand the almost solemn effect of their songs (otherwise difficult to achieve on live performances....) is completely destroyed by the lead singer's in-between hooligan-shouting in an attempt to encourage an ... (read more)

Report this review (#22712) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 9, 2003 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST "Glasnost"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.