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Roy Harper - Folkjokeopus CD (album) cover


Roy Harper


Prog Folk

3.72 | 44 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars It's nice to see a true English giant with a monkey on his shoulder and not on his back (the cover of this record) and the slightly death glazed look on his face makes one question whether or not this is going to be in any way a friendly, welcoming, warm record to visit. Oh, boy, welcome to the wonderful world of Roy Harper!

SUNRISE! And off we go into a weird warped worldview that's intent on taking us all over the map of human experience (and will come closer than anyone I can think of, eventually) until we settle into, some forty-odd minutes later, tomorrow. In the meantime we get the long-before-they-existed REM sounding "Sargent Sunshine" and Roy's on a roll, and before we can even think of what this natural force of a song could possibly be about it's over and in comes "She's the One" which is the lynchpin of Side 1, if you can't deal with this one you might as well get out of the water now. The song is about a friend of Roy's who has, in Roy's opinion, a quite lovely wife he treats with very little respect. Roy is upset by this and spends the next near seven minutes telling us-and presumably the subject of the song-why he feels that way. With a beautiful ear splitting falsetto on the "Sheeeee's the OOOOONNNNEEE" part that could make bats crash, Roy might be implying that if old boy don't get himself straight he might just waltz right off with his "wonderful wife." Side 1 continues with ditties "In the Time of Water" and "The Composer of Life" both of which are great little tracks that do little other than sound neat and ends with the mighty "One For All."

Then we get to side 2 and things get very odd indeed. With only three songs this side contains many firsts for Roy including first song about a bulldog who bites a cop and causes its owner (Roy) to go to court for exercising some control, then IT happens. Oh yes, it does. The cute dog/cop slightly subversive but comic track is over and we are down deep in the river of Roy Harper (We are kinda there with "One For All" at the end of side 1) and as (another first Roy's first huge epic) McGoohan's Blues starts, so does it continue for nearly FOURTEEN acoustic, repetitive minutes, building somehow this incredible dramatic tension that is almost unfelt as verse after verse strolls by, each one more interesting than the one before bridged by variations on the "Oh how the Sea she roars with laughter/ and howls at the dancing wind/ to see my....(here the lyrics change making this "chorus" not quite one)" each verse slightly more sinister, slightly more deranged until finally--are you ready for this--it breaks out into some of the most beautiful Nicky Hopkins fueled piano boogie music that strangely enough sounds again like REM to me, and Roy SINGING with a hoarse voice and being all cryptic and whoa! Suddenly the blood rushes to the head, the endorphins release and life makes more sense than it ever has (or hasn't) and for a little over three minutes (maybe closer to four) one of the most beautiful "pop" (non derogatory term for catchy 60s/70s Beatle influenced type music) gushes out of the speakers and caresses the listener, lovingly, and sort of harshly at once. Chocolate and peanut butter for the ears, and then it ends...with Manana...a sort of goofy track, not unlike Self Control at the beginning of the side, genuinely dark lyrics, but sort of funny, that's a wrap. Kid giggling at the end and you are free to go.

When you really get down to the meat of Roy and his music, I do think a very large part of whether one likes him or not has to do with how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with his words. The lyrics on a Roy Harper album are always going to be somewhat "controversial" to say the least, or actually have guaranteed, in a less enlightened time, a nice Roy-b-cue. Roy offends ME sometimes and I have a shrine built to him in my bathroom. If you can "get" his ground, sort of let him just yammer on with whatever he needs to say then you will be richly rewarded...or not.

To me personally this is a five star record, but for the readers of the prog archives I will reduce the rating to a four, I don't believe a place where the majority of members have chosen to ignore Bob Dylan are really chomping at the bit to get all gushy over his British counterpart.

TerryDactyl | 4/5 |


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