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Every Blind Guardian fan is familiar with 'The Bard's Song,' their classic acoustic ballad from the otherwise often overlooked 'Somewhere Far Beyond' album, but just in case they were finding that widely available album hard to come by - and perhaps to make a quick buck - the band released this extremely postponed single release in 2003, eleven years later. To be fair, it isn't the same version but a self-proclaimed "new studio version" that's the same as the original, but with a more polished and clean sound, and the fabled, elfish bard can finally be seen in the attractive cover art (funny, I always imagined him with a beard). It's a brilliant song, perfectly simple with a fine acoustic performance from André Olbrich and great singing by Hansi Kürsch, and an unshakeable staple of every single Blind Guardian live show. Which is where the B-sides come in; the first track is expressly labelled "new studio version" to differentiate it from the subsequent three live versions of the same song.
I'll repeat that: three live versions of the same song.
This is a bit of a barmy notion, but one I was glad/flabbergasted to see Rhapsody later mimic in their similarly completist release of 'The Magic of the Wizard's Dream' alongside four other versions in varying languages and re-mixes, and while it's nice to hear crowds from Milan, Munich and Madrid all singing along to the same song... what am I talking about? No it isn't, I really don't understand the purpose of featuring three live versions of the same song when the point could be just as easily made with one. They aren't very different at all, and unlike the band's earlier single 'A Past and Future Secret,' another acoustic ballad, there's nothing on here to balance out perception of Blind Guardian as a power metal band. Anyone listening to this would think they were merely a folk band. Worse, a folk band that only had one song.
So there you have it, a pointless single of a good song from eleven years earlier that I presume was only released so that modern Blind Guardian fans were spared the trouble of having to check out the earlier albums, and realise how much better the band used to be in the olden days. It's a good song that you can listen to again and again (four times in a row if you like), but one that's widely available on all live releases after 'Tokyo Tales.' For putting-CDs-into-the-computer fans, you're spared the monotony of the regular single and offered a live video of a song being performed in Stuttgart, breaking the band's habit of only playing in towns beginning with "M" but keeping another pattern intact. Would you hazard a guess which song they play?
1. The Bard's Song (In the Forest) (new studio version)
2. The Bard's Song (Live in Milan)
3. The Bard's Song (Live in Munich)
4. The Bard's Song (Live in Madrid)
Multimedia: The Bard's Song (Live in Stuttgart)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Bard's Song (In the Forest) [New Studio Version]
2 Bard's Song (In the Forest) [Live]
3 Bard's Song (In the Forest) [Live]
4 Bard's Song (In the Forest) [Live]
5 Multi Media Track [Live]