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Glass Harp - Circa '72 Review
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, Glass Harp has always been a live band. Releases like Live! At Carnegie Hall and Strings Attached have given those not fortunate enough to see the band in person a small glimpse of their live energy. Now, with the release of their first DVD, fans can both hear and see the trio at the height of their popularity and get a glimpse of what faeeps people coming back for more after 34 years.
In early 1972, Glass Harp was asked to play a live concert for a local PBS TV station to be simulcast in stereo on a local radio station. It was a huge success and to this day, those who watched it remember it fondly, for many, it was their first exposure to the trio. For years, poor quality VHS recordings have b een copied over and over again by die-hard fans who were happy to relive this tieme and begging the band to officially release the original performance.
Now, that long bootlegged and begged for performance has been digitally remastered and releasede on DVD. Included are the performance and the interviews aired during equipment changes. As bonus features, the band has included fullcommentrary plys home movies from their 1971 west coast tour.
The live performance lives up to the band's reputation as a great live act and is a stellar representation of the trio's musical prowess. Phil, John and Daniel feed off each other and their ability to predict each other's direction allows extended jam sessions and phenominal flowing individual solops. Despite technical difficulties, the group is relaxed and having fun. Every song is a highlight.
Like Carnegie Hall, this performance is raw, young and energized. Classic Glass Harp songs like "Look In The Sky", "Never Is A Long Time" and "Changes" are as hot as any other versions. Daniel picks up the flute and John trades his drumsticks for an acoustic guitar to quiet things down for an acoustic set, which the Carnegie Hall performance doesn't have. Their mettle is tested here as microphone issues make John's vocals and guitar temporarily inaudible. But as proof of their professionalism, all three continue without batting an eye. This part of the show puts the group's vocal harmonies and Daniel's flute playing front and center, giving the performance more of a folk-rock feel. After another three songs, "Mountains" and "Let The Bells Ring". Phil goes solo with "Songs In The Air" as John and Daniel add vocals. "Song of Hope" is a warm-up for another epic version of "Can You See Me". As with the Carnegie Hall version, "Can You See Me" meanders about in all sorts of directions, with each member taking the spotlight for a solo. Amazing! They close out the show with "Do Lord", fading out about 3 minutes into the tune. Throughout the show, John's drumming laid a solid foundation for Daniel's driving bass and Phil's guitar (which included influences from Bloomfield and classical music). This was a top-notch performance!
The downside to the recording are the technical diffulties with the audio. The band goes into detail about this at the beginning of the DVD commentary. There was trouble getting the correct mix of vocals and instruments and there's nothing the band can do about it now. But the issues work themselves out and this is a minor flaw. Consider when this was recorded! As a compromise, the band included two audio sources, "hot" and "normal", and you can choose which you prefer.
The audio commentary option which runs the length of the performance is my favorite part. It's like having John, Daniel and Phil on your couch while you watch! They comment on everything from clothing to gear to philosophy and it's quite clear these are three close friends, not just bandmates from long ago.
On top of all that, there is a bonus home video of their 1971 tour out west. The trio adds their commentary here as well, including some ompromptu surf music. Watch the guys 35 years ago having fun (and trying not to break their neck) during their spare time in sunny California. There are also old interviews that will make you scratch your head and wonder "Where did that question come from?"
All in all, a great DVD! That simulcast has already garnered Glass Harp countless fans, both when it first aired and as an oft-shared bootleg. Now it's time to relive some memories, toss out those nasty old VHS boots and enjoy the many enhancements and additions. There's no doubt this DVD will continue to bring in new fans, stir up some old ones and will surely amaze all who watch!
-- by Stephanie Bargenquast
Page Last Updated: October 10, 2006
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Stephanie Bargenquast unless noted