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Barclay James Harvest

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Barclay James  Harvest Barclay James Harvest Live album cover
4.40 | 125 ratings | 21 reviews | 54% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Summer soldier (10:17)
2. Medicine Man (10:25)
3. Crazy City (4:58)
4. After The Day (7:27)
5. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (6:30)
6. Galadriel (3:18)
7. Negative Earth (6:20)
8. She Said (8:33)
9. Paper Wings (4:19)
10. For No One (5:53)
11. Mockingbird (7:37)

Total Time: 75:37

Recorded LIVE at the Theatre Royal, London and at the Stadium, Liverpool in 29-30/June 1974

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / vocals, lead guitar, recorder
- Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme / vocals, electric piano, Moog, Mellotron
- Les Holroyd / vocals, bass, rhythm guitar
- Mel Pritchard / drums

Releases information

2LP Polydor 2683 052 (1974, UK)

CD Connoisseur VSOP CD 164 (1991, UK)
CD Eclectic Discs ECLCD 1028 (2005, Europe) Remastered 24-bit by Paschal Byrne

ArtWork: Keith Davis & Vincent McEvoy (design) with Alex Agor & Tim Brown (photo)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Barclay James Harvest Live Music

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Barclay James Harvest Live ratings distribution

(125 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(54%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Barclay James Harvest Live reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Tight but loose

This was BJH's first live album, released shortly after they switched labels from Harvest to Polydor. Consequently, many of the tracks are from their albums recorded for their former label.

The album kicks off with the majestic "Summer Soldier" from the "Baby James Harvest" album. This is as prog as BJH got, being a 10 minute piece in two distinct sections with a strong peace message, and a memorable guitar refrain. Next up, a stunning adaptation of "Medicine man". The studio version of this track, which appeared on the "..and other short stories" album, was a pleasant melodic opener with lush orchestration. Live, it becomes a thumping rock track with a great lead guitar solo.

The rest of the tracks are more faithful to their original counterparts, the highlights being "She said" and of course "Mockingbird", both from the "Once again" album.

The recording quality is adequate, if a bit flat, the subsequent "Live tapes" album being a vast improvement in that area.

An excellent summary of the band's early live performances, which demonstrates that the band were a "tight but loose" unit in that environment.

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars In the late Seventies I bought the double-album entitled "Live Tapes" (1978) from BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, mainly because of the picture from keyboard player Wooly Wolstenhome, surrounded by a wonderful range of analogue keyboards: Hammond C3, Mellotron M300 and M400, ARP Pro Solist synthesizer, ARP String-ensemble and a MiniMoog. I was blown away by their music but then I discovered that BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST had made another live album simply titled "Live" from 1974. This 2-LP is still my 'ultimate progrock Mellotron album': lots of majestic waves of the Mellotron, beautifully blended with the warm vocals, sensitive electric guitarwork and a good rhythm-section. I don't understand why the press invented the humilating nickname 'Poor Man's Moody Blues' for BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. Of course their roots were obvious The BEATLES and The MOODY BLUES but BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST developped their own, unique sound: so melodic and harmonic and the interplay between the Mellotron and electric guitar is so compelling and moving. TRON MANIACS ALERT!!!
Review by loserboy
5 stars "Barclay James Harvest Live" is one of my personal favourite live albums of all time showcasing what "symphonic rock" is all about. BJH Live is dripping is sweet mellotron meadows and heavenly guitar and bass interplay. Musically these guys were amazing and the live vibe you get off this album will put you in a state of amazement. Many songs are extended and arranged differently than on their studio albums and are given lots of room to breathe. BJH's hallmark sound was the softly caressing vocal harmonies of John Lees, Les Holroyd and Stuart "Woolly Wolstenholme" and the juxtaposition with the warm sounds of the mellotron. According to the extensive notes from the Re-mastered version, they had lots of problems with the mellotron acting up and making weird tones, but none of this is apparent. Originally "Live" was released as a double vinyl album in November 1974 and today stands as one of BJH's pinnacle albums.
Review by Tony Fisher
5 stars A marvellous live album from a greatly underrated band, spoiled a little by a slightly muddy sound quality. Good musicians if not perhaps not the greatest individual virtuosos, they stuck to what they were capable of, wrote great songs and the result was far greater than the sum of the individual parts. The two long tracks on side 1 (I have the vinyl double LP) segue into each other and are excellent, with some great keyboards from Woolly Wolstenholme and fine guitar solos from John Lees. Crazy City is a very srong song, as is After the Day. Galadriel is exquisite; a gentle, beautifully composed song and the album keeps a high standard until their magnum opus Mockingbird, which explodes with great vocals, mellotron and guitar to finish things off. Two good singers, a good guitarist, a strong, tight rhythm section and a master of the mellotron mean that BJH are worth a high place on the podium of prog. As with Renaissance, this first live album is possibly their best release of all, showcasing their best work. The sheer quality of the music compensates for any slight deficiency in the sound quality and definitely makes this a "must have"; buy and enjoy!
Review by 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: " 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..." 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!

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Take some good melodic songs - add a strong dose of 70s Symphonic Prog - mix with some excellent inventive guitar playing - and drench it great swathes of luscious Mellotron. It doesn't come much better than this.

In the mid/late 60s a bunch of lads in the Oldham area of England were playing mainly R&B covers in local bands. Four of them joined forces as Barclay James Harvest to become part of the first wave of Prog, complete with their own symphony orchestra! Sadly, they only ever remained in the second division, mostly due a series of misfortunes and wrong decisions. By the time they found fame (in the 80s in continental Europe) they had long left Prog behind, but this album is squarely from the mid 70s before they began to change their direction.

'Live' was recorded over 2 successive nights in late June 1974 in Liverpool and London (Drury Lane) on the Island Mobile. It is quite clear that 2 tracks (Negative Earth and Paper Wings) have slightly different sonic qualities to the rest of the album, which tends to suggest that all but those two were recorded at one of the gigs. Whatever. The sound is good and clear, but dynamically it is a little suppressed which bathes the album in a warm analogue glow: an impression enhanced by the warmth and prominence of the Mellotron and lovely rounded mellow tones of Lees' lead guitar. Instrument separation is excellent - you can hear every input by all 4 members - but placement is a little primitive: John Lees lead guitar is on extreme left; Woolly's Mellotron takes centre stage (I certainly won't quibble with that); while Les's guitar & bass (he played a twin neck 6-string & bass) comes from extreme right. The 2 rogue tracks (Negative Earth & Paper Wings) have a slightly more brittle quality, and the stereo placement is different - strangely, Holroyd and Lees moved to the centre! It's not really a problem, though, and the only real annoyance is the timbre of the snare. It all adds character, and it's kinda nice to hear the hi-hats resonating in sympathy to the bass from time to time.

None of these performances are anything less than excellent: I could pick any one of them and argue about how brilliant it is. As performers, they had reached a peak at this time - both Lees on guitar and Wolstenholme on keys, especially Mellotron, were extremely inventive. They had become masters of their instruments but had not yet reached that level of absolute slick professionalism whereby all the little rough edges had been completely ironed out. Compare this to 'Live Tapes' from 1978: a much slicker production, but it doesn't have the heart and soul of the 1974 band.

Some tracks really come alive here, like Crazy City, For No-One (".... everyone's a loner till he needs a helping hand ...."), She Said and After The Day. There is however, a 'crowning glory' - the first 2 tracks (side 1 of the vinyl 2LP set) are nothing short of sensational: the 2-part Summer Soldier becomes a tour-deforce in the live environment and it seamlessly segues into a stonking rendition of Medicine Man, here transformed from a short and sweet orchestrated piece into a heavywieght rocker with extensive improvisation mostly from Woolly. I had heard of BJH for some time before 1974 but my first real exposure to their music was when I saw them on this tour (Norwich, Norfolk, St Andrew's Hall, 2nd row a little to right of centre) so the first things I heard were these 2 songs. They made such a lasting impression on me such that Summer Soldier was the first thing I tried to play on guitar!

This album neatly sums up the first stage of their career, a stage when they were at their most creative, and at their most Progressive. The next few years would see a slicker approach and an ever inceasing AOR element creep into their music at the expense of the progressive, which ultimately led to Woolly leaving at the end of the decade. But that's another story. Other reviewers have suggested this is their best album, and I wouldn't really argue against that view - any issues with the sound are minor. Certainly, it helps to affirm that Woolly was one of the original masters of the Mellotron.

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars Barclay James Harvest’s Live (from 1974) is a phenomenal live recording, not because of its sound, which has some drawbacks of a shaky seventies recording that remain untouched (and rightfully so); but because it captures a seventies rock band in all its virtues: subtle, attentive to details, powerful and emotional. You need no more than one listen to "Mockingbird" to realize that.

Barclay James Harvest is not as common name among progressive rock fans as you can expect. Perhaps it is because the band’s material is less elaborate compared to the works of Yes and Genesis; or maybe it is due to their correspondence with the more basic psychedelic and folk rock ("Summer Soldier" for example, might bring up a Neil Young comparison).

If you know the original version of "Medicine Man" from their third album BJH And Other Short Stories, with it's length of about four minutes, you will be blown away by this extended 10 min + version found on here. It's the definitive version of the song and ranks as one of the truely brilliant epics of the first prog decade. Needless to say that almost all of the song versions found on here are beating the studio originals by a landmile in direct comparison.

This release, however, is proof of the band’s terrific energy on stage and its raw authentic delivery, with a fired up rhythm section, scabrous guitar, vocals imbued with a sense of mission, and a mellotron setting the heavy, symphonic atmosphere.

A highly recommended release for those of you who seek a flared encounter of progressive rock with its less tamed roots. If you are (like me) a mellotron-addicted, look no further than this masterpiece of a live album. It contains some of the most beautiful mellotron parts ever, since the mellotron completely overtakes the role of the orchestra, which is consistently present on the band's first couple of albums. Stuart "Wooly" Wolstenholm is a true master of this instrument and I would go so far to say that no other band in prog rock executed wonderful melodies with mellotron better than BJH, not even Genesis. They simply were THE melody-makers of the 70's (and possibly all time)!

BJH live is one of the very finest prog live albums in history, so there's no sorry for not finding it in your collection. But make sure you get the 24 bit remaster of Eclectic Discs, released in 2005. The sound quality is so much superior to the original recording. It also includes all the song lyrics, a great addition for a live album!

album rating: 10/10 points = 98 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a worthy live document of one of my less favorite bands. "Medicine Man" and "Mocking Bird" are highlights, but the whole set provides for more feeling and adventure than on their studio efforts.
Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars I saw a part of this tour on the Belgian television. Actually it was a summary (about forty minutes) from the concert BJH played in Brussels in 1974. I had vaguely heard about them and I was just stunned by the great mellotron and nice guitar breaks I was discovering. The week after, I purchased "Live 74" and I loved it an awful lot.

Four tracks (out of eleven) from their last album "Everyone..." are featured here. But you can hardly notice the difference with the other older numbers. All of these were "mellotronized" and sounded as if they came from the same work. BJH had the great idea in playing almost their best songs from the Harvest years. Actually, only "Dark Now My Sky" from their debut album is missing. I really would have liked to discover what this song would have looked like after such a treatment, anyway...

I cannot find a single weak moment here: no lenghty instrumental solo (it is not in BJH's habit), just pure musical beauties. To name them here would just be to name them all from "Summer Soldier" the opener to the fabulous closing "Mockinbird". This version is the one I prefer of all their live versions. It is just brilliant. Most songs will sound a bit harder than in their studio version and will be a bit extended. My fave one was "She Said" (and still is together with "Mocking...").

I have listened to this album countless times and I am never bored to do so. It brought me such a nice feeling (and still does as I write). If incidently, you like mellotron, you'll get it at every corner here. Extremely melodic and beautiful.

I can only repeat myself : this album is pure hapiness. Great symphonic music all the way through. I can not find a better album to recommend if you would like to discover this good band. BJH's music is of course not essential but I hope it'll bring you the same feeling that I have : an incredible emotion each time I listened to it. Five stars of course.

Review by Hercules
5 stars I first came across BJH when a friend lent me their new album "Once Again" in my final year at school. I was impressed with some of the songs and the overall style, but felt the album was too patchy to buy. I listened to all their other albums over the next year or two with the same feeling; some great songs, some fillers. (This may explain why they are classed as very much a second class band, not usually mentioned in the same breath as Genesis, Yes and the other giants. Ironically, they achieved enormous commercial and critical success on the continent, especially Germany, whilst remaining a cult band in Britain)

However, in 1974, I caught them in concert during the tour promoting the "Everyone is Everybody Else" album and they were a revelation. When this live double album was released, I snapped it up and have loved it ever since. The tracks selected are the very best of their first 5 studio albums and functions pretty well as a "best of" up to that time (much better than "Early Morning Onwards"!). There is no filler here, siince every single song is of high quality and a few (Crazy City, Galadriel and the epic finale Mockingbird) are classics of prog. The whole album is drenched with Mellotron, the vocals from Holroyd and Lees are tuneful and there is some fine guitar playing. The lyrics are interesting and reflect on many topics; the futility of war, love and modern life, but for sheer perfection listen to the exquisite poem that is Galadriel. The production of the album is a bit rough and ready and the mixing could have been clearer but it catches the mood of the concerts well. Several songs, especially Summer Soldier and Medicine Man, are vast improvements on the studio tracks. They can play it heavy (Medicine Man, Mockingbird) or delicate (Galadriel, For No One) with equal facility.

They made some worthy albums after this (including a couple more fine live albums), but this is by far the best thing they ever did and is one of the few cases where a live album improves on their studio offerings by a huge margin. Unreservedly recommended, but try to get the 2005 remasters, since the double vinyl and first release CD are sonically quite poor. Once you have this, there is no real need to buy any earlier albums since all the best tracks are here.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Polydor records wasted no time trying to recoup some money after taking over the debts of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST following their demise from their former label. The band released just a few months after signing with POLYDOR the excellent studio album EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE mid-1974 and before the year ended, this double live album was in every record store just in time for those Christmas gifts, at least for the few ones who knew about the band.

A part of the deal striked between Polydor and Harvest records was the right for Polydor to use the old songs from the band for any potential live recording made in the future! And the future was not that far away in the clever minds of the Polydor brainstorm.A live album never cost too much money to produce and the benefits made out of it would help to balance a little bit the financial sheets.

This would be BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST first live album with many more to come such as the excellent LIVE TAPES in 1978 and the historic concert at the Reichstag of BERLIN in 1982. But 1974 was still the time when prog was king and of course this live album is their most ''proggish'' of them all. Not that it is very adventurous, (it can;t happen with BJH), but for the first time (and last time) the band decided to loosen up -a little bit- on some selections of this album.

Knowing BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, one can expect the band to play their songs on stage the same way they sound on records, yes this is the case, but on a few occasions, here, the band let the music take off by itself and let it flow with no time restrictions. JOHN LEES is the one responsible for this ''adventurous'' spirit with SUMMER SOLDIER and especially an amazing 10mn rendition of MEDICINE MAN from ''BJH and other stories"" that bear almost ne ressemblance to the original version ,with long guitar solos, WOLSETENHOLME having some fun with his synth and this maniacal repetitive ''hard'' guitar riff. This track is the summitt of the album as it shows us another facet of BJH we wished to have heard more often.

Other songs benefiting of new arrangements are AFTER A DAY and MOCKINGBIRD sounding more simpler as the orchestra is no longer around, but still sounding majestic as the mellotron add a lush refined texture over the beautiful melodies.If you are a fan of this instrument, love the KING CRIMSON sound from their first 2 albums, you are for a treat with ''BJH LIVE''. This is a mellotron-drenched album from the first song to the last one.

The live versions of the 4 tracks coming out of EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE stand more faithful to the originals as the band was promoting this album during this tour this double live LPs was recorded and in no way would they ''experiment'' with them. You don't ''mess'' with a new product when your bank account is deep in the red.

BARCLAYJAMES HARVEST 'LIVE'' is a great testament of the musical abilities of a band whose artistic creativity was peaking around this time. This is also a great testament about a side of prog-rock music which can be melodic, harmonious well sung, well performed,always in good taste striving for beauty and deep emotions.

4.5 STARS.

Review by Gooner
3 stars A little overrated this one. Live is pretty much a best of up to that point in BJH's career without the orchestration. A whole lot of mellotron isn't necessarily a good thing, even if you're a 'tron fanatic like myself. Wooly really overdoes it here, kind of like the way the band JONESY overdoes it. I prefer the use of mellotron for colouring and orchestral soundscapes, not a lead instrument like a hammond B-3. I generally find BJH hit their creative genius with the albums _Octoberon_ and _Gone To Earth_, but that's another review. This is an ok album for an introduction to BJH. I recommend you buy the studio albums which represent your favourite tracks on Live.
Review by kenethlevine
4 stars There is a point on side 2 of this double disk in which the members of the band are introduced to a propitious beat and little touches on the various instruments. It precedes one of the most powerful songs herein, the live version of "After the Day", that really sets the hairs on end, but the first moment of promise is the introduction of Woolly Wolstenholme on...mellotron! Not keyboards, not piano and synthesizers, not XXX,YYY, and mellotron, but simply mellotron.

While I do believe he plays a few other electronic keyboards, the tron is clearly the dominant instrument in his arsenal and indeed on this landmark live recording. For its use here as an accompanying and lead instrument, the disk cannot be awarded less than 4 stars. Add the fiery and creative versions of "Summer Soldier", "Medicine Man", "She Said", and "Mockingbird" and we are getting close to 5 stars.

Ultimately the lack of acoustic guitars is palpable given the folky nature of so much of their material, and this problem would plague other live efforts. Sure, "Galadriel" is sweet, and a welcome break from the decibel level, but BJH didn't have the extra manpower to include the acoustic guitar as well as the lead guitar. While John Lees' prowess is undeniable, over the course of 11 extended songs, the formula of riveting leads set to a wall of mellotron starts to lapse into sameness. In addition, the sound on this live recording is somewhat thin.

As a collection of souped up renditions of the best Harvest material and the more concise and accessible "Everyone is Everybody Else", this recording is recommended to newbie and longtime fans alike. It provides an effective summary of the first phase of the BJH saga, without revealing too much about what would come next.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars This live album is the perfect place to start investigating this band. And for most Prog fans it will be a perfect place to stop too - this is really the only Barclay James Harvest album you will ever need! They did some good songs that are not present here, but here we have basically the very best of Barclay James Harvest, performed live with more energy and instrumental power than you will find on any of their studio albums. Summer Soldier and Medicine Man are particularly interesting since they are radically different from their studio counterparts, and contain much more instrumental work. Need I add that they are much improved?

The rest of the set are more faithful to the studio versions in structure but most songs feel livelier here and there is a sense of urgency lacking in the studio albums. This is especially apparent on the older tracks like She Said and Mockingbird, which I felt were too "sleepy" on the Once Again album.

Barclay James Harvest is not an essential Prog band, but if you want them in your collection, be sure to make it this one!

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first of the many live albums that Barclay James Harvest has release over the years and it's by no means a gimmick because these four individuals were brilliant live performers. I would like to go further and actually claim that Barclay James Harvest is the only UK band that has, so far, managed to greatly improve on their studio versions through a live recording!

The album starts off with almost unrecognizable versions of Summer Soldier and Medicine Man which I would pick any day over the studio recordings. Summer Soldier skips the transitions that ruined the original version while the four minute Medicine Man is transformed into a ten minute epic track that just knocks me off my feet every time I hear it! This transformation trend wasn't only applied to the older compositions since even tracks off the latest studio album like Crazy City and The Great 1974 Mining Disaster have received makeovers with sharper harmony sections.

Barclay James Harvest Live is definitely one of my top five favorite live albums! It's a pity that this release is so hard to track down since it would serve as a perfect introduction to this great band! But after all the praise I still hesitate to call it an essential release although this time it has nothing to do with the band's progressive merits since there are quite a few of them here. Although I love all the individual performances I've never got the same type of kick out of this album as I have after listening to Everyone Is Everybody Else but it's safe to say that Barclay James Harvest Live is on the heels of that studio album!

***** star songs: Medicine Man (10:25) Crazy City (4:58) The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (6:30) Negative Earth (6:20) Mockingbird (7:37)

**** star songs: Summer Soldier (10:17) After The Day (7:27) Galadriel (3:18) She Said (8:33) For No One (5:53) Paper Wings (4:19)

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4 stars For me, there was always something wrong with BJH's first albums.. Although there were excellent songs on every album, actually I didn't hear any really bad ones, the sound was way too polished, perhaps even sappy, for my taste. Not on this album, though. With the orchestra gone, every song w ... (read more)

Report this review (#75697) | Posted by LittleMan | Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Barclay James Harvest Live" was BJH's first UK-Chart-Album and therefore it's rather hard to understand why the compact disc has never been released by their original label Polydor... nevermind, with the fine remastered edition released by Eclectic ( Esoteric ) lately... Like I wrote in my rev ... (read more)

Report this review (#69257) | Posted by rupert | Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is a masterpiece that can listen to a wonderful performance it keeps tight and with power. They are developing the performance with the drive feeling far more than the studio album in this work. It is a work that can be satisfied of the appearance of BJH that accomplishes a big leap as ... (read more)

Report this review (#50681) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars BJH's first official live album is a must-have for everyone who likes great harmonies, beautiful mellotron and great guitar playing. The first two tracks are probably the best the band ever recorded live. The lengthy 'Summer soldier', a beautiful and powerful interpretation of the original Bab ... (read more)

Report this review (#22636) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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