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Roy Harper - Songs of Love and Loss CD (album) cover


Roy Harper


Prog Folk

4.92 | 4 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars The creation of a lifetime. Literally. Roy Harper will be forever known as an outrageously political singer of Folk Prog songs like The White Man and Dark Cloud of Islam.

But on every album Harper has produced since his first, Sophisticated Beggar, Harper has opened up one of his veins and bled out a song from his heart stating either his adoration of or pain from a romantic relationship.

The first song from this compilation, Black Clouds, comes off Harper's first album and is followed by similar songs from his following albums and not necessary in chorographical order. But it doesn't matter as Harper, like his music, is unchanging in vocal performance and guitar playing and his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve and tell us his deepest feelings.

This album is only available at present in a 2 CD release and download.

The first thing that will strike you is the youthful photo of Harper on the CD's front cover from circa 1966 to a present photo on the inner sleeve is how much Harper has physically changed. The inner photo shows Harper with white hair, receding hairline, bespectacled and looking every bit of his 70 plus years. So you think you be in for a noticeable then versus now sonic comparison. But Roy likes to fool people and his "re-sculpturing" and remastering of these songs can only be differentiated by reading the accompanying liner notes. The sonic quality is simply amazing and is an audiophiles treat.

As far as Progressive Rock goes, the first disc is mostly solo acoustic Roy with little backing except for occasional string arrangements from the late David Bedford, on All You Need Is, or some unlisted sessions players employed by early super producer Shel Talmy (The Who, Kinks,) on North Country, that fleshs out Harper's songs of love and pathos. For those interested in what exactly Ian Anderson refers to when he points out Harper's influence on his acoustic guitar playing will see immediately what he is talking about. Generally one love and loss song follows the other in a sequence that could only make sense to Harper as it's his life. But the message is unmistakable. We have all been there and can relate. But who could open up emotionally like this man? I know of few that have managed to be able to express such emotions and feeling in song and I have been around for a while and have actually heard Bob Dylan sing before he was even famous as well as countless others who were. And none come close to Harper on such a consistent basis that you know that every song must have been an emotional rollercoaster for him record. But we have them and sometimes it's a rollercoaster for the listener. Thank God for two separate discs.

The second disc contains Harper's true Progressive Folk Rock with guest players such as Bill Bruford, Chris Spedding, Dave Cochran and the ever present Jimmy Page. The songs include such concert standards as Hallucinating Light, The Fly Catcher, Cherishing The Lonesome and the stunning On Summer Day (from Harper's most personal album Death or Glory?).

Again, the combination of Harper's remastering and the power of these songs is simply stunning and sometimes emotionally overwhelming. But this album is truly the particular work of a great artist's lifetime and you can tell it was put together by Harper with love.

If you're not into an emotional journey than this double album is not for you. But if you care for some in your Progressive Rock music then step on up. Just remember, you can listen to one disc at a time. As great as this album is, some of us have to. Five stars and have a cigar.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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