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Roy Harper - Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith [Aka: The Early Years] CD (album) cover


Roy Harper


Prog Folk

2.64 | 22 ratings

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3 stars Roy Harper refers to Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith, his second studio album, as a skeleton in his closet and rarely, if ever, played any of these songs live in concert. On the whole, it's not quite the disastrous album that Harper would have us believe. Sure, it's his first of album of social protest that's a bit awkward as words supersede the importance of the music, but it's quite listenable, mostly, in another of Britain's sixtie's acoustic based folk rock albums. The lead off track "Freak Street" is more noteworthy for it's topic of freaky Greek Street in Soho during Roy's tenure at the celebrated, at the time, folk club Les Cousins The song features choruses that morph into Arabian scales raga in both the music and vocals and is interesting in it's oddness, but it's straight up acoustic folk rock arrangements of "You Don't Need Money", "Ageing River" and "In A Beautiful Rambling Mess" that follow that put's Roy back on solid folk rock footing with songs similar to the ones found on Roy's debut album Sophisticated Beggar, but they're not quite on par with that album's song quality. A bit of the sophomore album syndrome is showing.

"All You Need Is", despite it's heavy handed condemnation of women who use their sex and sex appeal to get ahead, is a marvelous baroque synthesis of swelling strings with a jazz like stand up bass and drums accompaniment, and is the highlight of the album. "Circle" is a long dissertation on the evils of social conformity, while the title track states all the trials awaiting someone who's born into "the system." Heady stuff but a bit verbose and long winded. Still, it's like nothing else from Roy's British folk revival buddies from that era like Bert Jansch or Wizz Jones. Skeleton in the closet? I would say that Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith is more like a sleeping man in the bedroom. Forgettable but harmless if awakened. 3 stars.

SteveG | 3/5 |


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