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Roy Harper - HQ CD (album) cover

HQ

Roy Harper

 

Prog Folk

3.51 | 36 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Hats Off To (Roy) Harper

Released in 1975, HQ is something of a landmark album for the legendary Roy Harper. Not only does it boast a fascinating line up of rock musicians from the period, but it also contains the best song Harper ever wrote. Bill Bruford, David Gilmour and Dave Cochran are just three of the major players here, the album unusually (for Harper) having a distinct band feel. Indeed, "HQ" is strictly speaking by a one shot band called Trigger. The core of the band is Harper, Cochrane and Bruford plus noted session guitarist Chris ("Motorbikin'") Spedding, the other artists making sometimes brief guest appearances, mainly on "The game".

We open with what is arguably Roy's most progressive song, the 13+ minute, 5 part "The game". The song weaves its way through the full range of Harper's styles, his vocals often being multi-tracked. The lyrics cover a number of topics, at times being vaguely reminiscent of the style of "Thick as brick". There is little space for instrumentals as such, the band clearly revolves around Harper.

After this monster sized opener, we find ourselves into a succession of four more orthodox Harper songs. He reverts to his long held opinions on religion for "The spirit lives", a hard hitting straight rock number. The song segues straight into "Grown ups are just silly children", the lightest track on the album. The rhythm is based on a retro blues rock style, Harper doing a Buddy Holly/Elvis impression of sorts.

"Referendum (Legend)" sees Roy initially reverting to a slightly more acoustic style before Spedding's guitar restores the rock mod which prevails through most of the album. The song has a bit of a Strawbs feel to it, Harper's narration being reminiscent of the style of Dave Cousins. The brief "Forget me not" has a Lennon feel, the simple acoustic nature of the track softening the mood for the remainder of the album. "Hallucinating light" continues the reflective style, the vocals at time being barely audible despite the sparse instrumentation.

It is though the last track on the album which is the pinnacle of Harper's illustrious career. "When an old cricketer leaves the crease" is a magnificently atmospheric reflection on passing on. Harper gives a remarkable vocal performance as he uses a sporting analogy to pass gentle observation on a sensitive topic. The Grimethrope Colliery Band add a beautiful brass backing to the song, never intrusive but capable of bringing a tear to a glass eye. If you only ever hear one song by Harper, make sure it is this one.

In all, a fine album by Harper, which blends a harder rock style with his traditional acoustic pictures. Roy himself opines that this is the best album he ever made. Who am I to argue with that?

The rather bizarre sleeve has an image of Harper (looking a bit like the Messiah) apparently walking on water.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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