Recorded back in 1992 at the Town & Country Club in London, this 25th anniversary concert isn’t quite ‘an absolute must for any Barclay James Harvest fan’ as suggested by the brief liner notes. The budget price album offers only a re-mastered audio of previously released material. Indeed the real die hard fans might still have the full 14 track concert on video. More likely they probably invested in the surround sound DVD which also contains the same set list.
The 8 tracks still have their moment though, as the opening Mockingbird beautifully distils the bands unique style, while the twin guitar lines save a synth dominated ‘Medicine Man’ from an overwrought dirgy arrangement.
The piano led ‘Play To The World’ comes from an era dominated by Supertramp, but it’s a welcome live version with a beautiful close to the mic performance by Les Holroyd.
‘Life Is For Living’ always sounded a little like Simon & Garfunkel to these ears. It brings an uplifting feel to the set which extended by the guitar led ‘Rock n Roll Lady’ ,with echoes of Blue Oyster Cult, with impressive vocals and a pristine recording.
‘Poor Man’s Moody Blues’ lives up to its name and the Boland Brother’s single ‘Stand Up’ doesn’t quite make the successful techno transformation that they brought to Roger Chapman’s late 80’s career. The closing ‘Hymn’ overcomes some clichéd biblical lyrics to embrace the message of its title and more importantly connects with the fans.
Much like their late 60’s co-survivors The Moody Blues, BJH are an easy target for their earnest lyrics and proggy arrangements, but the good moments outweigh the bad. Then again, so they should, given that this CD could have gone the extra yard in terms of extra tracks.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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