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Roy Harper - Man & Myth CD (album) cover


Roy Harper

Prog Folk

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4 stars The "obscure" troubadour is back. His 22nd registered album. After a long pause in the studios, Roy Harper returns with this "Man & Myth" project. If something is quiet notable in this record, is his regained song-structuring skills. No, he is not re-inventing anything in his very personal and original musical language. It still has those choatic bridges, that eventually return to the main theme. And in this "bridges" precisely is where this record feels extremely polished, like "contained fury". So he plays wild as ever, but maturity has lowered down its unavoidable nature, to the perfect balanced point, where the whole of the songs, its "war & peace", Roy Harper's eternal quests, are as equally performed and resolved, without one over-shadowing its counterparts. That for me is a very welcomed relief, in his song-writing skills and in my audiophile experience with his albums, the ones I own or know. So, to round things up, Roy Harper's "Man & Mith" is frankly Prog-Folk, in his own unmistakable kind of style. Polished without losing essence or rawness. His clever and substantial lyrics, as always are the "main character", but musically speaking this has to be one of his best accomplished productions. ....Now, the PA rating is kind of hard. This as a Roy Harper album in his own discography is an easy five PA stars. Been that these reviews are for a general public of Prog all kinds of genre's listeners, 3.5 PA stars (it deserves to be listened to!). But if you, like I , enjoy RH's kind of chaotic song-writing, and also favour his proto/prog/rock//folk music, this one is a keeper, ****4 PA stars.
Report this review (#1062410)
Posted Friday, October 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Roy Harper is a folk rock musician from England, which has touched the prog genre several times, I wouldn't though call this album prog, even if he has a lot of prog specialities. "Man & Myth" is his eighteenth studio record and the first in twelve years. I like the cover which has a lot authority. Harper here has horns on his forehead and seems to be a mythological creature.

Roy Harpes's voice resembles Neil Young's voice but Harper is a much better singer, with power. On this record I here something unique and very real. Almost only acoustic tracks is present here and the musicians are competent. I like the stripped sound and the songs speach for themselves. If I knew better of Roy Harper I had perhaps appreciated this even more but I like it very much. The record is very uneven and there is just one track I don't like: "Time is temporary" which I think is boring. All the other tracks are quite similar in status of being good. My favourites are "The Stranger" and "The Enemy" but the closer "The Exile" or the progressive story "Heaven is here" are also marvelous. "January man", is an acoustic gem which is so honest and lovely that I must say that is one of the best.

I expected some form of rock but didn't get it, it doesn't bother me. The only rock track is "Cloud Cuckooland" which is great and contains electric guitar by Pete Townsend and great saxophone. I give the record four stars and enjoy it very much and will return and perhaps appreciate it even more. Recommended album!

Report this review (#1068124)
Posted Monday, October 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

The return of such an out-of-character artiste such as Roy Harper is always welcome news, especially that this is the result of a long and thought-out project (three years) and it took place over two continents - LA and Eire to be precise. Co produced by Roy and Jonathan Wilson, the US part is more or less the first part of the album, while the Irish part (co-produced by John Fitzgerald) is the second half. In the guest list are dozens of musicians that will probably not ring a bell to most, but you will find a certain Pete Townsend on one track. You'll find in the booklet a bunch of added (sometimes-short) poems that are meant (or seem to) to be read in between the songs.

A bit surprisingly, the usually inimitable Harper sounds like Neil Young (and Crazy Horse) and at other places like Leonard Cohen. The album opens on The Enemy, where Roy delivers his composition with a US folk-rock (almost country-esque with the guitar twang) and he seems to have Cohen in mind when singing. The following acoustic Time Is Temporary is definitely quieter, includes string arrangement (including a lovely cello) and co-producer Wilson plays a banjo. Up next is a very personal (and very acoustic as well) song January Man, where Harper poignantly expresses regrets. Tensions increases with the intense The Stranger, where the mood shifts from acoustic to more profound climates. The following Cloud Cuckooland is definitely a Neil Young homage, where he not only sings and cotes Cowgirl In The Sans, but the music sounds like Crazy Horse stuff, even if it is a searing sax instead of a guitar solo in the middle, but the guitar takes revenge in the second half. The centrepiece of the album is the lengthy Heaven Is Here, a typical Harper piece that could've found place on Lifemask. The middle section with an instrumental passage is absolutely? divine. The Closing Exile is another highlight of the album.

Not that I'm familiar with Harper's discography since Jugula, but M&M is definitely worthy of standing proudly alongside Roy's better 70's albums. Somehow, I can't help but wondering if some of the lyrics on this album are related to the bad and recent events of the fall of 2013. Hopefully not.

Report this review (#1083888)
Posted Sunday, December 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I got this album late in November 2013 and the first few listens didn't blow me away to any great extent. It was good, it certainly sounded like Roy, and it was nice to see him back after so long, but I honestly thought it was not going to get a lot of play.

And then something happened. Something about the album just clicked into place, and I understood all the accolades it had been getting elsewhere. Man and Myth is not just good, it is very, very good. It really is one of the major releases of 2013.

This album is absolutely vintage Harper, almost as good as anything he has done. Perhaps it is not the equal of HQ, but far better than one would legitimately expect from a guy who has not had an album out in 13 years. Hard rocking at times, and pure proggy folk at others, in these songs Roy is in full magnificent voice (at 72!) and turns his scathing, scalpel eye on modern life, love (and politics), dissecting the intersection between our internal and external lives, excoriating at one moment, and poignant the next. The standout songs are "The Enemy" (us, as it turns out), the heartbreaking "January Man" (reflecting on lost love), and the spectacular "The Exile", a gorgeous marvel of compelling prog folk-rock by an old pro at the top of his game. It isn't a perfect album since the epic "Heaven is Here" meanders about and perhaps goes on a bit too long, but it is certainly an album that came as a huge surprise, far more rich and rewarding than a first couple of listens might suggest.

Report this review (#1114593)
Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars The man who created his myth. I feel that this fantastic album was directly influenced by the stellar 2 CD compilation album Harper released a few years back entitled Songs Of Love and Loss which featured songs picked by Roy dealing with past relationships. Most of which failed. The related songs on Man And Myth which come to mind are Time is Temporary, January Man, and The Stranger. All feel, to me, like poignent conclusions to the songs on the Love And Loss album. The beautiful folk/prog of Heaven is Hear segued into the Exile is time transporting musical bliss with a majestic almost understated Floyd like accompaniment (minus any keyboards of course) but with the signature rubbery frettless bass leads of Tony Franklin to keep the music from sounding dated. The most outstanding and overlooked feature of this album is how much Harper's voice has morphed into an instrument of it's own with perfect pitch and keys often supplying the true melody of the songs. Amazing! This album is a worthy come back but please also seek out Songs Of Love And Loss which is not even listed on this sites discorgraphy.
Report this review (#1161784)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | Review Permalink

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