Live Tapes is the second live album from Barclay James Harvest and was released in 1978. It was recorded on the 1976 and 1977 tours.
I’ve got a soft spot for this live album because I nearly went to see BJH on the Octoberon tour. As a schoolboy, money was tight and it was either these guys or Be Bop Deluxe.
I am treating this stage of Barclay James Harvest on the progressive rock / art rock border.
Barclay James Harvest Live Tapes – Overall Rating – 24/30
Set List – 8/10
- Child Of The Universe – 6:47 (originally on the studio album Everyone Is Everybody Else)
- Rock ‘n Roll Star – 5:25 (Octoberon)
- Poor Man’s Moody Blues – 7:30 (Gone To Earth)
- Mockingbird – 7:29 (Once Again)
- Hard Hearted Woman – 4:47 (Gone To Earth)
- One Night – 6:35 (Time Honoured Ghosts)
- Taking Me Higher – 4:41 (Gone To Earth)
- Suicide – 6:46 (Octoberon)
- Crazy City – 4:42 (Everyone Is Everybody Else)
- Jonathan – 6:03 (Time Honoured Ghosts)
- For No One – 6:28 (Everyone Is Everybody Else)
- Polk Street Rag – 5:41 (Octoberon)
- Hymn – 6:00 (single lated added to Gone To Earth as a bonus)
This is a very nicely put-together set list from Barclay James Harvest’s best albums featuring their style of mellotron based symphonic prog rock.
The World Goes On, Medicine Man and Hymn For The Children were added to Live Tapes when it was remastered in 2009 but they are not on my version.
It’s difficult to ignore the similarities with The Moody Blues but they never matched their success in the UK and United States. In many ways BJH were more likeable.
Their sound isn’t as original as Genesis, Yes or Pink Floyd so I’ve resisted the temptation to give the set list 9/10. There is a lot to enjoy if you like melodic progressive rock and I might be back to upgrade it..However There isn’t a track as great as Supper’s Ready, Close To The Edge or Shine On You Crazy Diamond on here to demand that you give it a regular play.
Performance – 8/10
Personally live is the way I want to hear Barclay James Harvest. I’ve always felt that their studio albums felt subdued and over-produced.
The group didn’t have a powerful and distinctive singer like Peter Gabriel, Greg lake or Jon Anderson and relied on pleasant voices like Floyd. The vocals sound stronger live.
Also stronger and more insistent is the guitar from John Lees that surges and slashes above the keyboards of Woolly Wolstenholme.
Videos of Barclay James Harvest from around the period.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Star in the studio, probably miming because it’s a shadow of the version on Live Tapes.
Child Of The Universe – from 1980 and the Berlin concert but it’s the opening track to Live tapes and it gives you a better idea.
Hymn also from the Berlin concert in 1980
Atmosphere & Authenticity – 8/10
The audience used to sit and politely listen to the music while watching the band and light show. The most exciting bit was when the cigarette lighters cam out at the end.
However it was an event to see complex music played well, a bit like watching a classical orchestra perform a symphony. This is going to sound strange but I also think that Barclay James Harvest were surprisingly soulful.
Overall Rating – 24/30
Live Tapes is a very good album and my first choice when I want to hear Barclay James Harvest.
I can’t pretend that it’s essential listening for the average rock fan but if you enjoy the symphonic progressive rock of early Genesis on albums like Genesis Live and Seconds Out, I think you will like Live Tapes.
What Others Say About Live Tapes
From what I remember, it wasn’t even fashionable to like Barclay James Harvest in the mid seventies so it won’t surprise you to know that I haven’t seen this album on any of the best live album lists.
Feedback on Amazon is positive.
Buying Live Tapes by Barclay James Harvest
To help you to find the album quickly and easily, I’ve given you the following links:
What Do You Think?
Do you like this album?
Let me know by leaving a comment please.
What Are the Best Live albums Of All Time?
This album is nominated in these readers polls
Because there are so many great progressive rock live albums I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.
How do you think it ranks?