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Roy Harper - The Unknown Soldier CD (album) cover

THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

Roy Harper

 

Prog Folk

3.03 | 16 ratings

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jude111
3 stars It's one of life's cruel ironies that Harper's most known and best-selling album in America is among his weaker efforts. This is Harper's first album in the 1980s, and marks a 10-year decline that (so I've heard) was arrested later. (I only know his 70s work the best.) The album is no doubt among his more popular releases in the US due to the presence of David Gilmour. For all you Floyd fans out there, let me assure you that just because Gilmour is here, this does not make it among Harper's more "Floydian" releases. Check out his 70s work for that.

I suppose all Floyd fans will want to hear "You," the duet with Kate Bush. The song is usually highly rated by Floyd fans. Written by Gilmour, guitar by Gilmour, it definitely sounds like an outtake from THE WALL, although I've always felt the song somehow stops short of being all that it could have been, had Floyd actually recorded the song during THE WALL sessions (with Harper on vocals!). And yes, "Short and Sweet" is probably better here than it is on DAVID GILMOUR - but it's certainly not the best song by either artist.

For me, the two best songs on here are "The Fly Catcher" and "Old Faces." These are the two instances where the 80s production actually seems to enhance, rather than mar, Harper's songs.

I've always wondered - why didn't Gilmour recruit Harper into Pink Floyd? He needed a lyricist, and there's no one better than Harper. Harper's acoustic work always had a distinctly Floydian sound. And his vocals, so well known to all of us from "Have a Cigar," would never sound out of place on a Floyd album. We'll never know, but in my mind I always thought Harper was the one person who could have filled Waters' shoes. Oh well, I guess it was not to be... [sigh]

A side-note: I believe this is the last album that Peter Jenner produced for Harper. (Jenner was Pink Floyd's original manager, and produced all of Harper's 1970s albums [John Leckie helped out on some as well].)

jude111 | 3/5 |

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