The most important live concert that Barclay James Harvest ever performed is undoubtedly the one on the steps of the Reichstag in Berlin on the 30th August 1980. This concert also attracted their largest audience ever. Although it was a free concert - there were no ticket sales available to count - the official police calculation of the audience was 175.000! However, they didn't add up the people that were listening on the other side of the Berlin Wall. So the total amount of people attending the concert must have been over 250.000. The band were also aware that this was a special event, so they hired a film and recording crew to document everything on audio and video. Unfortunately, whilst the concert itself was a triumph, just about everything that could go wrong with the recordings really went wrong. There were loud buzzes and hums on the recordings and John Lees' main guitar was damaged during the afternoon and was almost inaudible in the mix. So they decided to record a lot of overdubs to repair these mistakes. It was one of the reasons why the LP wasn't released until 1982.
The album first appeared in Germany in February 1982 as a limited edition eleven-track version with Love On The Line and Rock 'N' Roll Lady as the additional tracks. The album went straight to number #1 in the charts. However, all other releases only contained nine tracks with those two songs missing. In 2006 the first CD-release appeared including the bonus tracks. And now, four years later, a remastered version is available of the same recordings including the bonus tracks. So this is the original German eleven-track version once more, but this time with a different mix and with all songs performed in the same sequence as the day of the concert. People who are familiar with the history of Barclay James Harvest know that at the time of the Berlin-concert the band was very popular in Germany. This was mainly because of the more commercial musical direction of the band. The songs were less complex and didn't feature the many Mellotron-parts from the early days any longer. Woolly Wolstenholme had left the band and was replaced by session musicians on keyboards. A simple song as Life Is For Living is the best example of how the band sold off their music, but anyway the Germans loved it.
However, as we can hear on this new release of the Berlin-concert, BJH didn't forget their past and performed many classical pieces like Mockingbird, Child Of The Universe and Hymn. These songs still sound as strong as in the early days. The keyboard parts are beautifully played and in a very professional way. Therefore, this release certainly is a must for all fans of the band. It certainly shows that Barclay James Harvest sounded just as strong on a live stage in 1980 as they did in 1974 which can be heard on the album Barclay James Harvest Live. Unreservedly I can put this CD on the shelf next to that legendary live album, so I can listen to it from time to time and have a look at all the fabulous pictures and read some facts about the concert in the booklet. People who can't get enough of this album can also watch the new DVD-release of this concert. Since I only possess the old VHS-tape, I can't give you any comments on the DVD-version.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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