To the Stars: Sarah Brightman – The Harem Tour

haremtour

This here CD was available for purchase “only” at Sarah Brightman’s Harem tour and from the official website for a limited time. It is now out of print and a bit of a collector’s item, but I’ve got my trusty copy thanks to the miracle of modern shopping and technology. There may be a few floating around on sites like eBay. Also, this should not be confused with The Harem World Tour: Live from Las Vegas.

The Harem Tour has 13 tracks. These are rarities, demos, forgotten or otherwise discarded cuts, and songs otherwise released on other recordings. It’s a pretty good find if you can locate it and a nice companion piece to Harem.

Frank Peterson once again serves as producer and the good news is that the record isn’t simply populated with a bunch of German house music remixes. There’s some actual meat on these bones.

“Kama Sutra” is the first piece. It carries that Harem heft and is featured in Brightman’s The Harem World Tour: Live from Las Vegas concert recording. It was originally meant to head the Harem disc and would have honestly made for a nice intro track on the CD, although the title track still works as well.

“Join Me” finds our soprano and superhero doing a HIM cover. Yes, you read that right. The full title of the song is “Join Me in Death,” but the “death” was considered too harsh for US audiences. Brightman joined HIM in shortening the track name for more sensitive ears, although the ethereal and heavenly quality suggests that joining her in the afterlife might not be such a bad idea after all. This version of the HIM song comes from Gregorian’s third album, so you pretty much know what you’re getting.

“My Imagination” is a beautiful, piano-led piece that swings into some rather upbeat territory (and a booming beat). This was recorded between La Luna and Harem and simply had no place to fit until now.

“Don’t Give Up” kind of feels like a Brightman standard, with the Gregorian’s assistance making up at least some of the Peter Gabriel angle. Then there’s “Forbidden Colours,” a track that shows up as a bonus cut on Symphony, and “The Smile” with German electronic music act Schiller.

Also of interest is an extended version of the epic “A Question of Honour.” This is from the first single release, but it’s interesting to see how it feels in Harem’s clutches and how well it seems to suit this musical palette. Its excitable, rip-roaring gait is hard to ignore.

“Voyage Voyage” brings the Gregorian lads back around, while “I’ve Seen It All” is another Schiller collaboration.

The Harem Tour ends with “Watermark,” a track from Enya. This was the subject of some controversy, as the plan was to include Brightman’s version on Timeless. Enya’s label threatened legal action, however, and it was left floating in the wind until its inclusion here.

A rare and compelling record, The Harem Tour CD is a pretty good find for collectors and fans. It’s not quite the white whale that Fly II is, but it’s certainly hard enough to locate. Its pieces fit the puzzle of Harem well and it never feels like a forced jumble of extra songs, so that’s a big plus in the world of overzealous tour accompaniments. It’s worth a listen for sure.

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