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Roy Harper

Prog Folk

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Roy Harper Sophisticated Beggar album cover
3.45 | 30 ratings | 4 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1967

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. China Girl (3:38)
2. Goldfish (2:50)
3. Sophisticated Beggar (5:08)
4. My Friend (4:08)
5. Big Fat Silver Aeroplane (3:41)
6. Blackpool (5:11)
7. Legend (3:50)
8. Girlie (3:04)
9. October the 12th (5:54)
10. Black Clouds (4:33)
11. Mr. Station Master (3:06)
12. Forever (3:30)
13. Committed (3:15)

Total Time: 48:48

Extra track # on 2007 remaster:
14. Hup Hup (spiral loop on LP) (0:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Roy Harper / vocals, guitars

- John Renbourn / acoustic guitar
- Lon Goddard / guitar (2,9)
- Ritchie Blackmore / guitar (13)
- Bert Jansch / acoustic guitar - not confirmed

Releases information

Artwork: Lon Goddard

LP Strike ‎- JHL 105 (1967, UK)

CD Sundown ‎- CDSD 051 (1990, UK) Different track list and new cover art
CD Science Friction ‎- HUCD007 (1994, UK) Original track list and cover
CD BGO Records ‎- BGOCD771 (2007, UK) Remastered with a (false) bonus track; Re-entitled "Return of the Sophisticated Beggar" with new cover art

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ROY HARPER Sophisticated Beggar ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (70%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ROY HARPER Sophisticated Beggar reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Unfortunately I just lost my entire review of SB! How frustrating. Needless to say this album is Harper doing his debut and what is noticeable is how good he sounds from the offset. From the quirky ' Goldfish', the trendy ' China Girl'. The selfless ( joke) self titled 'Sophisticated Beggar' to the uneasy ' Committed'. Delusions of grandeur? I think not! Harper manages to sound as fresh 42 years ago as he does even in 1998's Dream Society. What stands out here is that this is a strong beginning for Harper and yet there was such an abundance of great collaborative work ahead with the likes of Peter Jenner, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour and Ian Anderson just to name a few. A solid three stars for Roy Harper's first studio release.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Have a cigar

This is where it all started for Roy in terms of his recording career. Having given up a residency at Les Cousins folk club in Soho, London, Harper teamed up with Peter Richards' Strike Records and with engineer Pierre Tubbs. Tubbs and Harper recorded the album in what Harper describes as an outhouse in Tubbs' garden where Tubbs has a primitive recording studio. Recorded in 1966, the album was actually first released in early '67, but Harper would have to wait for a re-release in 1994 before he actually started to receive royalties.

Having been asked to leave the army on grounds of "insanity", Harper turned his attention to his musical and poetic talents. This initial set is very much about the poetry side, with Harper setting his words to acoustic guitar accompaniment. The way Harper (and Tubbs) recorded the acoustic guitar was pioneering for the time, the sound being captured and electronically processed through a reverb machine.

Bert Jansch and John Renbourn of Pentangle both contribute supporting guitars to selected tracks, but this is very much a solo effort by Harper. The overall sound is not complex by any means, indeed a superficial listen misleadingly gives the impression of a simple folk album. Listen more closely to the guitar arrangements though, and the disguised beauty of the detailed attention given to the recordings starts to come through.

At times, such as on tracks like "Goldfish", Harper plays it straight, while on others such as the title track he drifts towards Dylan territories. The oddly named "Blackpool" offers the best example of Harper's guitar dexterity, there must be fair chance the great Al Stewart drew influences from pieces such as this.

Overall, an album which is more significant for its place in Harper's development than it is in the development of (folk) prog. The songs here are generally straightforward, essentially being poems set to acoustic accompaniment. The results are pleasing and enjoyable, but the true nature of the sophisticated beggar's talents have yet to be revealed.

Incidentally, some more recent releases are titled "The return of the sophisticated beggar". Do not be misled though, they are simply remasters of the same album, with even the bonus track "Legend" having appeared on some earlier versions of the album.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Time is a flat circle." So said the Nietzsche inspired cop on the first brilliant series of the HBO serial True Detective, referring to Nietzsche's theory that time repeats itself. If that's true, then Roy Harper's albums would form a perfect circle of his work. Harper is one ... (read more)

Report this review (#1464270) | Posted by SteveG | Thursday, September 17, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the debut of the guy I adore so much. The singer-songwriters are not so popular here on PA, and that's for a reason. And this album is not something you could call progressive anyway. But Roy Harper is on this site for a good reason too! His songwriting is so strong, he tries some new ... (read more)

Report this review (#597484) | Posted by talha | Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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