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Barclay James  Harvest - A Concert For The People (Berlin) CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.15 | 61 ratings

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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.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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