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Roy Harper - Death Or Glory CD (album) cover

DEATH OR GLORY

Roy Harper

 

Prog Folk

3.65 | 8 ratings

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SteveG
4 stars Another great later day Roy Harper album to re-examine after his brilliant return with Man And Myth. Death Or Glory was originally released in 1992 with down beat spoken word passages between the songs. In 1994, Harper removed the depressing spoken word pieces and remixed two of the albums tracks in order to give greater oomph to the rhythm section. The reason for all the recorded angst and sloppy mixes the first time around was due to Harper's breakup with his wife who was also his recording engineer. To say that this breakup was devastating to Harper is almost an understatement. However, it motivated Harper to produce one of his best albums from the 90's.The opening title track starts off with a galloping rhythm of drums, bass and highly treated acoustic guitar underlined by Harper's son Nick supplying caustic electric leads as a response to Roy's cynical lyrics questioning if a love relationship gone wrong is akin to war. The sound mix of this song is clear, loud and confused and pulls you quickly into Harper's state of mind. The following song The War Came Home Tonight is satirical Harper at his best as he comments on the fad of broadcasting war live to your TV screen. This song along with the manic staccato rhythmic The Fourth World could easily sit on the Wall album by Floyd. However, Harper's best material is his own unique trademark acoustic sound fleshed out with fretless bass moaning, groaning, walking and sometimes running by the great Tony Franklin. Waiting For Godot, Next To Me, One More Tomorrow and On Summer Day are gems of Harper's most beautiful heart on sleeve lyrics to ever turn up in song. His singing is genuinely passionate and compelling without sounding like an emotional weakling. Harper also infuses lighter hearted material into the mix with The Methane Zone (about some flatulence that will get into heaven even if Roy himself does not) and Evening Star (a celebration of love) standing out as the best. Harper always has one killer cut on his albums and on this one that would easily go to Miles Remains. Miles is a tribute to the late jazz great Miles Davis and is not a jazz song but a near instrumental featuring Roy's treated acoustic guitars that musically ascend to the heavens on a cloud of swirling ethereal sythns propelled forward by Franklin's mournful bass. My only complaint of the album is that Roy's song editing skills went the way of his wife and Miles Remains and Evening Star overstay their welcome by a minute or so. Aside from that, the album sports great sound as most of the songs were recorded live in the studio without overdubs. This may not be an essential prog album but it is an essential album for Harper fans in that it helps to put his work into context aside from being extremely enjoyable.
SteveG | 4/5 |

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