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Barclay James  Harvest - Glasnost CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

2.89 | 26 ratings

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Symphonic Team
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.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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