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Roy Harper - Counter Culture CD (album) cover

COUNTER CULTURE

Roy Harper

 

Prog Folk

3.91 | 3 ratings

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Matti
4 stars Sometimes a compilation works much better than single albums. I had listened to some of Roy Harper's albums before, but this 2-CD made me really appreciate him. This musician has always been reluctant of being popular, and Counter Culture is a very fitting title. I guess many of us have first heard him singing lead vocals of 'Have A Cigar' on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here album (in fact I only later learned the name of the singer; as a teenager I probably thought it was Waters...). His output from mid-60's to this Millennium is vast, and perhaps to some degree uneven, so I'm probably not the only one here who after hearing just one or two albums haven't been enthusiastic about him. Or is it just my taste grown warmer towards the man & guitar artists utilising minimal arrangement?

That's what Harper is, basically. Voice and acoustic guitar (most of the tracks don't have any other musicians), and yet he's far from the folk troubadours like Donovan or Tim Hardin. First of all, his sound is much deeper and exciting than one would expect. Maybe it's the way it is recorded. He also is, to a certain degree, a progressive artist (with some long compositions to his credit, featured here too), unlike folk singers in general. Tim Buckley is one of the few exceptions beside Harper (and John Martyn, whom I got to know better at the same time and therefor closely associate him with Harper).00

This set represents Harper at his best, covering over four decades. His first recordings are somewhat rougher folk but quite soon he developed a mellower sound with a strong echo feel. His voice reminds a bit of Peter Hammill's softer side. Highlights are too numerous to mention! I can listen to these discs completely without getting bored. 'When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease' is a melancholic ballad Roger Waters might have written. 'You' is a duet with Kate Bush and is also otherwise one of the fullest track in sound - which doesn't necessarily make it one of the best tracks. But if you're interested in this artist, there's no better place to start than this set.

Matti | 4/5 |

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