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Barclay James Harvest

Crossover Prog

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Barclay James  Harvest BBC In Concert 1972 album cover
3.59 | 29 ratings | 6 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD One: Mono Version (59:29)
1. Introduction (0:33)
2. Mocking Bird (7:58)
3. Medicine Man (5:29)
4. Galadriel (3:50)
5. Summer Soldier (9:11)
6. The Poet (4:15)
7. After The Day (7:21)
8. Moonwater (8:15)
9. Dark Now My Sky (12:33)

CD Two: Stereo Version (55:28)
1. Introduction (0:37)
2. Mocking Bird (8:02)
3. Medicine Man (5:50)
4. Moonwater (7:44)
5. Summer Soldier (6:47)
6. The Poet (3:01)
7. After The Day (6:49)
8. Galadriel (4:14)
9. Dark Now My Sky (12:21)

Total Time: 114:57

Line-up / Musicians

- John Lees / guitar, vocals
- Les Holroyd / bass, guitar, vocals
- Woolly Wolstenholme / keyboards, vocals
- Mel Pritchard / drums
- The Barclay James Harvest Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Ford

Releases information

2CD EMI 538 9802 (2002)(limited edition)
CD EMI 538 4042 (2003)(single disc mono version only)

Thanks to Joolz for the addition
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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST BBC In Concert 1972 ratings distribution

(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST BBC In Concert 1972 reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is vintage BJH, the only known recording of the band playing live with their own orchestra. What a fascinating document it is too. Recorded before a small audience in BBC's radio theatre in November 1972, it was intended for broadcast as part of their 'In Concert' series of influential one-hour shows. The cramped circumstance of the setting caused many problems with sound balancing, exacerbated by the BBC's decision to record direct to 2-track rather than a multi-track. Thus, mixing decisions taken on the day are what we remain stuck with today.

Quality is amazingly good for something that languished in the vaults for years. There is little hint of the tape's age: it is virtually noise and hiss free so thumbs up for Peter Mew at Abbey Road who performed the re-mastering. My only criticisms would be levelled at the source material which has good-ish dynamic range but is rather weak at the bass end, and it does get somewhat out of control when everybody plays full tilt. The mix is mostly adequate, though the unnamed engineer had most difficulty balancing individual vocalists against the varying output of orchestra and band.

Performances are generally good, though the older songs are more assured. This recording took place just 5 days after the release of Baby James Harvest: while Woolly's solo-with-orchestra Moonwater is very dramatic and quite possibly better than the studio original, Summer Soldier sounds half-formed and a little primitive in some of its instrumental sections. Mocking Bird and Galadriel are reasonably faithful renditions of the studio recordings, though John's vocals begin a little tentatively on the latter. Les also seems to suffer a little stage-fright during the otherwise excellent polished version of Dark Now My Sky but he soon settles into it. Medicine Man is a hybrid successfully combining the studio orchestration with the rockier translation as epitomised by the band-only version on Live (1974). The Poet/After The Day begins in fine fashion with Woolly singing over the orchestra, but loses its edge in a messy bridge section where orchestra and band seem to vie for supremacy. The orchestra contribute significantly to After The Day too, but again it almost comes unstuck in the extended coda.

Inevitably, this is something of a mixed bag. I love live recordings and find this fascinating as an alternative to more familiar renditions, particularly tracing the development of Medicine Man from understated orchestral origins to its ultimate riff-based form with extensive soloing. In other cases, perhaps the constraints of working with an orchestra caused some of the arrangements to stay closer to familiar studio versions.

The album was initially issued as a limited edition 2CD set with two different mixes, one mono the other stereo, subsequently being re-issued as a single CD of the mono version only. Only the latter is still available. Overall, this album represents BJH at their most progressive, providing a compelling insight into this aspect of the band's career for those already familiar with these songs in other formats.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars I am an absolute lover of "Live 1974". IMO, it is one of the greatest prog live album. Most of the songs featured on this great records, were written during their Harvest years (1970 - 1972).

During those years, BJH were playing on stage with a full blown orchestra which will cause them enormous financial problems and accelerate the decision of their record company to put a hold on their contract.

Towards the end of 1972, BJH recorded a concert for the BBC, featuring the orchestra. So, even if I was moderately enthusiast about their first four releases except for "Once Again" of course (you can read more about each of them in my appropriate reviews if you are interested).

Since six great songs (out of eight) of that era are featured, I was quite interested in hearing this record. And I must say that the result is ... charming. At times of course, the orchestra is somewhat invading, like in "Medicine Man" for instance.

At other moments, it will support the band rather discreetly ("Mocking Bird" or "Summer Soldier").

Two studio songs were very much orchestra-oriented. "Moonwater" from "Baby..." and "Dark Now My Sky" from their debut album. Logically, "Moonwater" sounds as classical as its studio counterpart. I am glad to hear a live version for "Dark Now My Sky", the only one of this type, as far as I know. This version is harder, more dramatic, more electric : better.

"The Poet", written by Woolly is the only average song of this release. Too melancholic (but so were most of their studio songs in the early seventies). It is immediately followed by "After the Day". The orchestra is a bit pompous at start, but as soon as the band enters the stage, things improved drammatically. The typical guitar sound available on "Live '74" is already present and so emotional... My favourite song from this album.

The sound is very good throughout the album and the audience is really cheerful. I just wonder why the fans needed to wait for about thirty years to be able to get these historical pieces of music onto CD. A great document. Essential for early BJH fans. A great and different way to re-disvover these jewels.

Seven out of ten would be my verdict. But I have been rather harsh with BJH in my reviews of their eighties and nineties work so I will sentimentally upgrade this live album to four star.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars On November 16th 1972, a concert was recorded at the BBC Paris Theatre for a BBC Radio One In Concert programme. The band were joined by the BJH Orchestra which caused problems for the BBC as the sound was recorded straight onto inch tape as opposed to multi tracked, and balanced live. The show was recorded in mono for domestic broadcast but at the same time the BBC Transcription Service took a separate feed and recorded the show in stereo for license throughout the world, particularly the USA. This had a different balance and was later edited to feed onto both sides of an album and the running order was also changed. These are the only recordings of the band with an orchestra, and it is only now that they have been made commercially available. Released in a slip sleeve this double CD contains both the mono and stereo versions of the show, so the former contains all of the introductions and is unedited and is in the correct running order while the latter has had some changes made.

It shows just how powerful a correct balance of rock band and orchestra can be, and I love all of the songs on here from the powerful "Mockingbird" to the closing "Dark Now My Sky" and in many ways this is the album to get if you already have the later albums.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

Latest members reviews

4 stars How long did we have to wait ??? Being a fan of BJH, knowing that somewhere there were live-recordings of the original-line up with ORCHESTRA and you can't get 'em... so first of all big thanks to everyone involved in this release, we got rewarded in 2002 finally, and it was worth the wait ! ... (read more)

Report this review (#69258) | Posted by rupert | Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Being a fan from 1974 on getting my hand on this concert was always a dream for me. Both the band and the great initiator of the fan club Keith Domone often mentioned the possibility that the concert would once be released on cd. And suddenly, there it was, as a precessor of the re-releases of ... (read more)

Report this review (#22753) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Barclay James Harvest live and with orchestra (conducted by Martyn Ford) in the BBC studios sometime in 1972.........and what better track to begin with than: "Mocking bird" a grandiose...nay.. sublime track ..which at the time elevated them to their well earned status.....a high profile light pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#22752) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, May 14, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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