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ROY HARPER

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Roy Harper biography
Roy Harper was born in Manchester, UK in 1941.In the mid sixties Roy Harper played guitar and sang at the Les Cousin folk club and came into contact with artists like Nick Drake. Harper's teenage years were pretty erratic to say the least with discharge from the military for ' insanity' reasons. This was an early indicator of his erratic and somewhat hard define, career in music. Throughout the years Roy Harper constantly refused to be controlled by record companies which earned a huge amount of respect from his peers.

His first solo album was released in 1966, The Sophisticated Beggar and by 1970 he had met up with Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner and signed to the EMI label. Roy Harper's music can be best defined as progressive folk, but as his work is so varied there are many instances where his music transgressed these genre confinements. He worked alongside greats like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, The Nice, Kate Bush and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

In 1971 Roy Harper released what critics and fans regard as his best work, Stormcock. In 1980 Harper left the EMI label after The Commercial Break release and started his own label. He again returned to EMI briefly in 1986 only again to reform his own label but continues to record and play to this present day ably assisted by his son Nick Harper. Roy Harper is also recognised for his vocal contribution on ' Have A Cigar'off Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here release.

Roy Harper official website

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HqHq
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$10.82
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ValentineValentine
Science Friction 2002
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StormcockStormcock
Science Friction 2008
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UnhingedUnhinged
Griffin Records 1994
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BullinamingvaseBullinamingvase
Science Friction 2001
Audio CD$10.82
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Flashes From the Archives of OblivionFlashes From the Archives of Oblivion
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$10.83
$14.99 (used)
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ROY HARPER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ROY HARPER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 17 ratings
Sophisticated Beggar
1966
2.30 | 14 ratings
Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith
1967
3.89 | 22 ratings
Folkjokeopus
1969
3.47 | 24 ratings
Flat Baroque And Berserk
1970
3.96 | 140 ratings
Stormcock
1971
3.74 | 26 ratings
Lifemask
1973
3.51 | 35 ratings
HQ
1975
2.70 | 21 ratings
Bullinamingvase (One Of Those Days In England)
1977
3.00 | 10 ratings
The Unknown Soldier
1980
3.25 | 8 ratings
Work Of Heart
1982
2.86 | 7 ratings
Born In Captivity
1985
3.78 | 18 ratings
Whatever Happened To Jugula?
1985
2.80 | 5 ratings
Descendants of Smith (aka Garden of Uranium)
1988
3.75 | 8 ratings
once
1990
3.65 | 8 ratings
Death Or Glory
1992
2.47 | 6 ratings
The Dream Society
1998
4.28 | 9 ratings
The Green Man
2001
3.68 | 14 ratings
Man & Myth
2013

ROY HARPER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.13 | 6 ratings
Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion
1974
2.00 | 3 ratings
In Between Every Line
1986
3.40 | 5 ratings
Unhinged
1994

ROY HARPER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROY HARPER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 8 ratings
Valentine
1974
2.00 | 3 ratings
Loony On The Bus
1988
3.03 | 5 ratings
Hats Off
2001
3.91 | 3 ratings
Counter Culture
2005

ROY HARPER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ROY HARPER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Folkjokeopus by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.89 | 22 ratings

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Folkjokeopus
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by TerryDactyl

4 stars It's nice to see a true English giant with a monkey on his shoulder and not on his back (the cover of this record) and the slightly death glazed look on his face makes one question whether or not this is going to be in any way a friendly, welcoming, warm record to visit. Oh, boy, welcome to the wonderful world of Roy Harper!

SUNRISE! And off we go into a weird warped worldview that's intent on taking us all over the map of human experience (and will come closer than anyone I can think of, eventually) until we settle into, some forty-odd minutes later, tomorrow. In the meantime we get the long-before-they-existed REM sounding "Sargent Sunshine" and Roy's on a roll, and before we can even think of what this natural force of a song could possibly be about it's over and in comes "She's the One" which is the lynchpin of Side 1, if you can't deal with this one you might as well get out of the water now. The song is about a friend of Roy's who has, in Roy's opinion, a quite lovely wife he treats with very little respect. Roy is upset by this and spends the next near seven minutes telling us-and presumably the subject of the song-why he feels that way. With a beautiful ear splitting falsetto on the "Sheeeee's the OOOOONNNNEEE" part that could make bats crash, Roy might be implying that if old boy don't get himself straight he might just waltz right off with his "wonderful wife." Side 1 continues with ditties "In the Time of Water" and "The Composer of Life" both of which are great little tracks that do little other than sound neat and ends with the mighty "One For All."

Then we get to side 2 and things get very odd indeed. With only three songs this side contains many firsts for Roy including first song about a bulldog who bites a cop and causes its owner (Roy) to go to court for exercising some control, then IT happens. Oh yes, it does. The cute dog/cop slightly subversive but comic track is over and we are down deep in the river of Roy Harper (We are kinda there with "One For All" at the end of side 1) and as (another first Roy's first huge epic) McGoohan's Blues starts, so does it continue for nearly FOURTEEN acoustic, repetitive minutes, building somehow this incredible dramatic tension that is almost unfelt as verse after verse strolls by, each one more interesting than the one before bridged by variations on the "Oh how the Sea she roars with laughter/ and howls at the dancing wind/ to see my....(here the lyrics change making this "chorus" not quite one)" each verse slightly more sinister, slightly more deranged until finally--are you ready for this--it breaks out into some of the most beautiful Nicky Hopkins fueled piano boogie music that strangely enough sounds again like REM to me, and Roy SINGING with a hoarse voice and being all cryptic and whoa! Suddenly the blood rushes to the head, the endorphins release and life makes more sense than it ever has (or hasn't) and for a little over three minutes (maybe closer to four) one of the most beautiful "pop" (non derogatory term for catchy 60s/70s Beatle influenced type music) gushes out of the speakers and caresses the listener, lovingly, and sort of harshly at once. Chocolate and peanut butter for the ears, and then it ends...with Manana...a sort of goofy track, not unlike Self Control at the beginning of the side, genuinely dark lyrics, but sort of funny, that's a wrap. Kid giggling at the end and you are free to go.

When you really get down to the meat of Roy and his music, I do think a very large part of whether one likes him or not has to do with how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with his words. The lyrics on a Roy Harper album are always going to be somewhat "controversial" to say the least, or actually have guaranteed, in a less enlightened time, a nice Roy-b-cue. Roy offends ME sometimes and I have a shrine built to him in my bathroom. If you can "get" his ground, sort of let him just yammer on with whatever he needs to say then you will be richly rewarded...or not.

To me personally this is a five star record, but for the readers of the prog archives I will reduce the rating to a four, I don't believe a place where the majority of members have chosen to ignore Bob Dylan are really chomping at the bit to get all gushy over his British counterpart.

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 The Dream Society by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.47 | 6 ratings

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The Dream Society
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars The last of my reviews of later day Roy Harper albums, The Dream Society (1998) seems like Roy's response to his previous album Death or Glory. However, unlike that work, The Dream Society is a rambling album of disconnected themes and topics, while being true to Harper's persona, doesn't connect well with this listener. The first two songs are Harper singing about how much he wants to return to love. Noble, but trite in both lyrics and melody. The third song Muriel is an ode to Harper's mother who passed away when he was quite young. It starts off as a parody of the old folk song The Cotton Fields Back Home before shifting gears into a slow tempo tome about his late mother. The song's transformation is awkward to me in more ways than one. Harper than goes through a suite of pure rock songs that are good in themselves but are hardly prog and could have used the talents of his buddies Page or Gilmour to bolster them. The final song on the album, These Fifty Years, is a ponderous folk prog song that eschews melody in favor of Roy's overlong verbiage. The inclusion of prog god Ian Anderson on flute does little to improve it. The sound quality of the album is excellent but it's difficult for me to recommend this album to anyone but completists. If it's available, I would recommend Roy's 1990 album Once over The Dream Society as it contains some of Roy's most focused, if somewhat restrained, works produced in the 90's.

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 Death Or Glory by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.65 | 8 ratings

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Death Or Glory
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars Another great later day Roy Harper album to re-examine after his brilliant return with Man And Myth. Death Or Glory was originally released in 1992 with down beat spoken word passages between the songs. In 1994, Harper removed the depressing spoken word pieces and remixed two of the albums tracks in order to give greater oomph to the rhythm section. The reason for all the recorded angst and sloppy mixes the first time around was due to Harper's breakup with his wife who was also his recording engineer. To say that this breakup was devastating to Harper is almost an understatement. However, it motivated Harper to produce one of his best albums from the 90's.The opening title track starts off with a galloping rhythm of drums, bass and highly treated acoustic guitar underlined by Harper's son Nick supplying caustic electric leads as a response to Roy's cynical lyrics questioning if a love relationship gone wrong is akin to war. The sound mix of this song is clear, loud and confused and pulls you quickly into Harper's state of mind. The following song The War Came Home Tonight is satirical Harper at his best as he comments on the fad of broadcasting war live to your TV screen. This song along with the manic staccato rhythmic The Fourth World could easily sit on the Wall album by Floyd. However, Harper's best material is his own unique trademark acoustic sound fleshed out with fretless bass moaning, groaning, walking and sometimes running by the great Tony Franklin. Waiting For Godot, Next To Me, One More Tomorrow and On Summer Day are gems of Harper's most beautiful heart on sleeve lyrics to ever turn up in song. His singing is genuinely passionate and compelling without sounding like an emotional weakling. Harper also infuses lighter hearted material into the mix with The Methane Zone (about some flatulence that will get into heaven even if Roy himself does not) and Evening Star (a celebration of love) standing out as the best. Harper always has one killer cut on his albums and on this one that would easily go to Miles Remains. Miles is a tribute to the late jazz great Miles Davis and is not a jazz song but a near instrumental featuring Roy's treated acoustic guitars that musically ascend to the heavens on a cloud of swirling ethereal sythns propelled forward by Franklin's mournful bass. My only complaint of the album is that Roy's song editing skills went the way of his wife and Miles Remains and Evening Star overstay their welcome by a minute or so. Aside from that, the album sports great sound as most of the songs were recorded live in the studio without overdubs. This may not be an essential prog album but it is an essential album for Harper fans in that it helps to put his work into context aside from being extremely enjoyable.

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 The Green Man by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.28 | 9 ratings

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The Green Man
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars After returning with the stunning Man And Myth album, it's time to look at some of Roy Harper's ignored later day material. 2001's The Green Man was everything that 1971's Stormcock was not. As with Stormcock, there are no bass or drums featured on The Green Man. But gone are the obtuse lyrics, death march tempos, lack of truly beautiful melodies, and flat colorless deadpan vocals that dragged Stormcock down almost to a standstill. (The codas on Same Old Rock and Me And My Woman not withstanding.) The Green Man is a celebration of the intrinsic beauty of the earth (The Green Man, Wishing Well) as well as a condemnation of those that abuse that beauty (New England, Rushing Camelot) without sounding preachy. The song Solar Wind Sculptures is about the how the world appears through the eyes of an autistic child described in words and music. Outstanding. Roy has me convinced. The Monster is about the underlying insanity in all of us and its unending domino effect on society. Brilliant. Roy is joined on this album with Canada's Jeff Martin who is outstanding on 12 string acoustic, six string acoustic slide, mandolin and an honest-to-God hurdy-gurdy. Accented by ulleann pipes and whistles on a few songs, the album has a slightly baroque feeling while being completely fresh sounding and truly immersed in the 21st century. All 11 songs on the album are truly melodic wonders. Harper's vocals are majestic and impassioned. Indeed, his perfect pitch voice is almost an instrument in itself. If any album deserves to be called folk-prog, this is it. It is truly the unsung masterpiece in Harper's catalog. 5 stars!

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 Man & Myth by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.68 | 14 ratings

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Man & Myth
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

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.

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 HQ by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.51 | 35 ratings

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HQ
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As it happens this is the first album I actually got to own by the esteemed Roy Harper and I acquired it just a few weeks ago. I have been familiar with the man for some time, though, and have been listening to "Stormcock" on and off over the last years. I have, however, never really fallen for the man, no matter how much I have wanted it. I love prog folk and especially of british origin. My difficulties as regarding Roy Harper is thus quite a mystery.

I have always had a good eye towards HQ. I don't know why. It has always been there, fascinating me, although I barely listened to it. It was not until I read some reviews, when I was about to purchase it, I finally came into owning it.

The reviewers seem strangely coherent in their various judgements, that "When an old cricketer leaves the crease" is the absolute high point of the entire album. I agree. I could not agree any more than that. As a result of me being in agreement I will concur but return later to this specific track.

The album starts off with "The game", which is a riff driven monster of a song, clocking in at 13.42. Though not all that varied, it still keeps the pace and my attention. "The game" is like a marathon of hard rock and as suh keeps me amused throughout. I will not stand for the calypso (or whatever it is) section. I have come to accept it's being but I do not have to like it. All in all a good track.

The following two songs, "The spirit lives" and "Grown ups are just silly children", I could skip any day. The latter being some sort of 50's styled rock'n'roll. I do not approve. Let's move on.

The three tracks following are good songs. "Referendum" is yet again hard rock and really good. Not overly progressive but good. "Forget me not" and "Hallucinating light" is back to the folk and pleases me in every way. Really nice tunes.

And then there it is. The prize. "When an old cricketer leaves the crease". What an amazing track. Glorious! Being a nutter for the british isles I cannot contain myself. The solemn, quiet, peaceful, reflective, slightly sad atmosphere is for me the perfect interpretation of ye olde England in the first half of the last century. I don't know whether my interpretation of the song is correct and frankly I don't care. The feeling the song gives me is truly mesmerizing. And when the brass band kicks in... I melt like butter in a frying pan. This is music to die for, music to pass the day with and music to feel. Superb!

Conclusion: HQ is a mix of styles and in the end quality. Some things are brilliant, others great and a few songs I could easily have lived without. Still, as a whole HQ offers a varied blend of progressive rock with deep roots in folk and that is by God not a bad acievement. I will award this album four stars but I do it slightly hesitant. The fact that "When an old cricketer leaves the crease" ends the album, making my whole existence shine like a thousand stars and my inner being overwhelmed by it's soothing sounds I cannot act otherwise. Four stars and hats off to (Roy) Harper.

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 Man & Myth by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.68 | 14 ratings

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Man & Myth
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by ergaster

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.

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 Man & Myth by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.68 | 14 ratings

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Man & Myth
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Man & Myth by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.68 | 14 ratings

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Man & Myth
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

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!

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 Man & Myth by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.68 | 14 ratings

BUY
Man & Myth
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by admireArt

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.

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Thanks to Chris Stacey for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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