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BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST Live Eclectic (2006)

Skin Alley

Nicely re-packaged with entertaining (and revealing) booklet notes, not only is this 1974 set brimming with BJH's best known work to date, it makes a good fist of conveying with just the four-piece band the 'big picture' it had become famous for with the full orchestra it toured with - an overhead that almost drove it to bankruptcy.

New label Polydor took on the debts from EMI with the proviso that this release included Harvest-era classics like 'Mockingbird', 'She Said' and 'Medicine Man'.

It all works a treat with a tight grip on these epic songs lending them a new muscularity while deft use of keyboards (notably that grand dame, the Mellotron) fills for the sonic mass that the string sections provided.

Too many live albums pay disservice to their studio origins: this is an exception, working then as nifty showcase of what bookers could expect if they gave the band a gig, and serving now as a reminder of the creative force and showmanship of one of the UK's major progressive acts of the 70s.


Review by Peter Muir

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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