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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.

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StormcockStormcock
Science Friction 2008
Audio CD$11.75
$9.99 (used)
ValentineValentine
Science Friction 2002
Audio CD$9.57
$12.95 (used)
Unknown SoldierUnknown Soldier
Alliance 2001
Audio CD$9.57
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Unknown Soldier by Harper, Roy (2001-06-12)Unknown Soldier by Harper, Roy (2001-06-12)
Alliance
Audio CD$45.95
Man & MythMan & Myth
Pias America 2013
Audio CD$8.74
$6.72 (used)
OnceOnce
Capitol 1991
Audio CD$24.77
$6.95 (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)

3.36 | 19 ratings
Sophisticated Beggar
1966
2.38 | 15 ratings
Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith
1967
3.92 | 26 ratings
Folkjokeopus
1969
3.50 | 26 ratings
Flat Baroque And Berserk
1970
3.97 | 147 ratings
Stormcock
1971
3.74 | 29 ratings
Lifemask
1973
3.53 | 39 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
3.75 | 23 ratings
Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula?
1985
2.80 | 5 ratings
Descendants of Smith (aka Garden of Uranium)
1988
3.83 | 9 ratings
once
1990
3.65 | 8 ratings
Death Or Glory
1992
2.56 | 7 ratings
The Dream Society
1998
4.25 | 11 ratings
The Green Man
2001
3.73 | 16 ratings
Man & Myth
2013

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

4.00 | 9 ratings
Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion
1974
2.00 | 3 ratings
In Between Every Line
1986
3.13 | 6 ratings
Unhinged
1994
2.00 | 1 ratings
Live At Les Cousins
1996

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

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

3.51 | 10 ratings
Valentine
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
1970-1975
1978
2.25 | 4 ratings
Loony On The Bus
1988
3.03 | 5 ratings
Hats Off
2001
3.91 | 3 ratings
Counter Culture
2005
5.00 | 2 ratings
Songs of Love and Loss
2011

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Short And Sweet (featuring David Gilmour)
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Playing Games (featuring David Gilmour)
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Elizabeth
1985

ROY HARPER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 HQ by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.53 | 39 ratings

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HQ
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars A question of balance.

A review of Harper's venerated folk-art album Stormcock seems remiss to me without a review of Harper's most blatant rock album HQ, which followed a few years later.

Harper didn't immediately jump on the hard rock train after Stormcock, the albums Lifemask and Valentine, which were both mostly recorded in the same acoustic vane as Stormcock, followed immediately after it. Lifemask was a mix of both obtuse and clear lyrical imagery by Harper, while Valentine contained some of Harper's most straight forward and understandable lyrics, given that the album was relationship based.

However, for HQ, Harper returns to angst and overlong obtuse verbiage as found on the songs from Stormcock. However, the turn to a hard rock sound gives Harper, finally, a firm musical ground from which he can dissect the ills of the world's people and politics without sounding like he's ranting over a subtle folk song. Rock is angry music and Harper is at home with it.

HQ's leadoff track The Game, with it's insistent riffage from guest guitarist Chris Spedding is beautifully broken by the sublime notes provided by David Gilmour in the song's quiet and meditative meddle section. This is the first song to feature Harper's multi tracked vocals in an ethereal dreamlike sequence that he would go on to perfect in songs on future albums. Harper now is singing in what sounds like a semi tone lower than his earlier records, which helps to remove the shrillness from his vocal delivery.

The core musicians on HQ are King Crimson refugee drummer Bill Bruford, bassist Dave Cockran along with Spedding. Gilmour steps off after The Game and its the Harper and the trio that do the yeomen work on HQ.

The Spirit Lives and Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children are pastiches of American slide guitar blues and Elvis era R&R, respectively, with Harper supplying biting commentaries on the attitudes and actions of politicians.

Referendum is another hard rocking satirical rant with catchy hooks similar to The Game, but less obtuse verbally and, importantly, shorter in length. If Stromcock could have only one unredeemable feature, it would be the length of it's four epic but monotonous songs. Harper avoids that trap on HQ and the album is the better for it.

Hallucinating Light is a dreamy 'live in the studio' run through ballad that Harper decided to keep even though his voice was a little horse on the songs stunning chorus. A brave choice and a wise decision as it's Harper's second best song on the album.

Unsurprisingly, Harper's best song on HQ is the album closer When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease. It's Harper's best known song in his native home of Great Britain and it's a beautiful folk rock homage to his home country that's comes complete with a beautiful brass arrangement by arranger David Bedford. It may well be Harper's finest moment on a record. Anyone who loves the lush orchestrations of the Strawbs' Hero And Heroine album would be right at home listening to this sublime song that features, ironically for this album, just Harper's heartfelt vocals and his acoustic guitar, apart from Bedford's lovely brass score.

Roy Harper is as proud of HQ as he is of Stormcock. I'm just proud to be able to listen to it from time to time. 4 stars.

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 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.97 | 147 ratings

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Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

3 stars As a long time Harper fan, Stormcock is an incredibly frustrating album to me. It remains rooted, by Harper's own volition, in a purist folk asthetic that Harper was dead set against abandoning at that time, and I feel the album suffers because of it.

Harper is indeed the uncompromising artist that was so revered by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as the album predominately features just Harper's acoustic guitar and (multi tracked) vocals. However, I feel that it's exactly this lack of compromise that roots the album in obtuse Dylanesque lyrics (it difficult for the uninitiated to realize that the song The Same Old Rock is about the evils of organized religion) and a monotonous feeling of sameness. Dare I say it, the man just takes himself too seriously on this outing. The gravitas of this material threatens to pull Stormcock under due to it's shear weight. It's far from a cathartic listening experience because Harper, for example, is focused on telling how bad the world is to a returning soldier, in the song One Man Rock And Roll Band, without ever offering constructive solutions.

Taken within the context of other albums released in 1971 such as Aqualung and Fragile, Stormcock was viewed as an eccentric folk album with "heavy" lyrics, no matter how indecipherable that they were at times.

It's evident to me that Harper was haunted by the ghosts of his contemporaries, such as Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, of whom he shared a residence in the popular Soho folk club The Cousins, along with the afore noted Mr. Dylan, who gave up obtuse topical lyric writing some 4-5 years earlier, and that any flight of rock fancy added to Stormcock's music would have simply been an unforgivable act of folk purist betrayal.

It's only guest guitarist Jimmy Page and arranger David Bedford that adds much needed variety and drama to the album and rescues it from it's narcoleptic daze. Page, first, with his stunning coda and guitar interplay with Harper on The Same Old Rock, and then Bedford, by turning album closer Me And My Woman into a stunning finale by injecting the song with a deft mixture of baroque and avant-garde orchestrations that gave this song a much needed cinematic scope that's absent on the opening track Hors d'Oeuvres and the afore mentioned One Man Rock And Roll Band.

The fact these four lengthy and incredibly plodding songs (which make up the album) have an immediate tendency to overstay their welcome is another sign that monotony permeates Stormcock.

Stormcock is an iconic album in the Progressive Rock canon, but one that is certainly cut out for specific listeners. 3 stars.

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 Valentine by HARPER, ROY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.51 | 10 ratings

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Valentine
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars Erroneously listed under compilations and box sets in PA's Roy Harper discography, Valentine may be the summit of Harper's skills as a songwriter and that four of the album's songs are feature on his superb 2012 compilation album Songs Of Love And Loss, the most culled from any Harper album, and are there for a very good reason.

Aside from two Harper commentaries on his feelings towards Women's Lib, which is something along the line of you can't have your cake and eat it too, the other eight of the album's songs are about relationships past and present, and Harper is simply at his zenith when it comes to wearing his heart on his sleeves. The exception being Acapulco Gold in which Harper confesses love to both his lady and weed. Unlike the directness of Harper's 1970 album Flat, Baroque, And Berserk or the metaphorical obtuseness of Harper's material on Stormcock, from 1971, and Life Mask, from 1973, Harper combines the lyrical sensibilities of both styles on Valentine without becoming pretentious.

I'll See You Again and Twelve Hours Of Sunlight are among two of Harper's most potent and engrossing songs. The first about dismissing a lover because his feelings are unrequited and the second deals with longing compounded by a twelve hour flight from Europe to the US at twilight which seems to last an eternity (I know by personal experience) as the never ending day prolongs and compounds the feelings of loneliness and longing for a loved one. The instrumentation on the former is sparse acoustic guitar with multiple and necessary vocal overdubs by Harper, along with a sublime orchestral score by the late David Bedford that deftly combines baroque with a sense of modernism. Bedford's score on Twelve Hours Of Hours Sunset is even better with a string section that evokes both flight and loneliness. He is the album's unsung hero and almost bests himself with another ethereal score for Harper's take on the traditional Girl From The North Country.

There is not much that is blatantly progressive on Valentine, except for what is implied by trying to move folk rock into fresh territory, in which Harper easily succeeds. 4 stars.

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 Live At Les Cousins by HARPER, ROY album cover Live, 1996
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Live At Les Cousins
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
2 stars Historical and hysterically funny at times, but not essential.

If you ever wondered where the live take of I Hate The White Man that featured on Harper's the Flat, Baroque, and Berserk album originated from,and what happened to the recordings, then wonder no more. Live at Les Cousins (recorded in 1969) was the source of the song and languished in the Abbey Road type vaults until they were discovered in 1995 and handed over to Harper.

These is a clear sounding professionally recorded performance of Harper at his old British folk rock stomping grounds that sees Harper in full flight early in his career as a folk club troubadour.

Standout tracks included a slightly quicker early version of Hors D'oeuvers, that would be slowed down and lengthened for Harper's Stromcock album released a few years later. Other notable tracks are long instrumental intro song Blackpool in which Harper show off the skills that kept him in good company with Burt Jansch and John Renbourn early in his folk club traveling days.

East of the Sun features a more bluesy harmonica accompaniment by Harper than that found on the studio version of this standout song, while McGoohan's Blues and the instrumental Che are the two standout tracks on the CD's second disc.

Despite the occasional good joke from Harper, there are a few songs such as She's The One where Harper is singing beyond his range as well as some long inane chatter from Harper (he's eternal MO) that puts a slight damper on this ultra clean sounding early live offering. 2.5 stars as this seems to be for Harper fans and devotees only.

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 Unhinged by HARPER, ROY album cover Live, 1994
3.13 | 6 ratings

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Unhinged
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

3 stars A great sounding collection of live solo Harper performances recorded at various locations in England in 1990/91.

As then wife Jacqui was both Harper's touring engineer as well as his studio recording engineer, the sound quality of this long disc once again maintains Harper's string of impeccable sounding recordings that originated in the nineteen sixties. Standout tracks include the rarely played Decedents of Smith and his centerpiece song form the Jugula album Hope, that's played with a deft backing band that includes his son Nick Harper on bass and old friend, cricket star Foxy Fowler. All three nail the song after only minimal practice before the gig. Other standout tracks include the chilling Frozen Moment, also from Jugula performed solo by Harper, along with the perennial's Highway Blues and The Same Old Rock which feature Roy's talented son Nick standing in for Jimmy Page on both tracks.

Live Harper albums are a bit of a rarity, especially ones that sport sound as good as this one. 3.5 stars.

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 Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula? by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.75 | 23 ratings

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Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula?
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars "We're not just spirits disappearing."

Whatever Happened to Jugula?, or just Jugula, as Roy Harper has now retitled the album for the 21st century, is one of those rare alchemical albums that's the result of odd circumstances putting desperate musicians together.

To say that Roy Harper has heady friends is almost an understatement with David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Ian Anderson, and even Pete Townsend, as contributors to Harper's albums over the years, as well as being sincere fans of Harper and his work.

This particular album features the reunion of Jimmy Page as a guest artist in an expanded roll as collaborator, as Page was recovering from heroin addiction at the time, as well as trying to get his bum in gear and move on from the demise of Led Zeppelin. Harper was in a slump after leaving EMI records and found himself with a deal on the Beggar's Banquet label. With both Harper and Page rejuvenated, Jugula is assisted by Harper's long time studio contributors, the great Tony Franklin on fretless bass and Steve Broughton on drums, with studio engineer Nik Green contributing deft keyboards to the record as well.

The album's first track Nineteen Eighty Fourish (actually listed on the album sleeve as Nineteen Forty Eightish as an inside joke from Harper) is a mighty opener as subtle but unmistakable Dooms Day sounding synths swirl around Harper's brash sounding Ovation acoustic strums as Roy delivers the first of many heartfelt of the album's great vocal deliveries. The song is now a period piece about the never ending nuclear arms threat of the 1980's but still seems to ring clear as a metaphor for the current world's dire situations. The song is punctuated by caustic electric guitar phrases and shapes from Page (that are not imitative of David Gilmour but would be quite at home on both Pink Floyd's Animals and The Wall albums) before the both Harper and Page do their now familiar acoustic guitar interplay near the song's coda. Page is back in top form and is now experimenting with the harrowing electric guitar tones and styles that would dominate the songs of his group The Firm that was shorty to come.

The spoken word poem Bad Speech is just what the name implies, and would have sounded ostentatious if the piece did not segue into the album's, and perhaps Harper's, best ever song titled Hope. With a hypnotic guitar riff written by none other than David Gilmour, and played by Harper's talented son Nick (with guitar effects lent to him by Gilmour), the song is nothing short of Harper's own album crowner like Comfortably Numb is for Floyd's The Wall album. Hope is not even remotely similar to Comfortably Numb, but every bit as emotive and evocative due a wonderfully powerful vocal by Harper, along with a stellar musical delivery by all those previously mentioned. It's one of Harper's must profound moments on record as well as being one of his best progressive rock songs ever recorded.

Hangman and Elizabeth return to the acoustic/electric guitar formula of Nineteen Eighty Fourish without sounding derivative. More spurts of Page electric guitar pyrotechnics dot both songs as Nik Green continues to add subtle but atmospheric synths to both songs. Dealing with both capital punishment and the need for universal understanding, both songs succeed due to harper's sincere vocal delivery.

Both songs are followed by the acoustic guitar dominated song titled Frozen Moment in which Harper poetically states the feeling that over comes someone when they realize, in the second, that a love relationship has ended. Page and Harper's chilling arpeggios combined with icy synths from Green easily nail the song. It's another of the album's and Harper's recorded highlights.

Twentieth Century Man-Beast is a straight acoustic song played by both Harper and Page and is highlighted by Harper's great vocal range that never wavers into shrill extremes.

As is his his want, and modus operandi, Harper ends the album anticlimactically with the throwaway singsong Advertisement, which, I suppose, is Harper's answer to Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women Numbers 12 And 35, as the song's chorus is a corny refrain of 'Man, I'm really stoned, yes I'm really stoned" and the cliched drink/drug bravado that goes along with such a tune. The song's music is actually quite catchy despite it's trite subject matter.

Jugula maintains Harper's string of meticulous studio recordings that commenced with his tenure as an Abby Road Studio's recorded EMI artist, and is quite detailed and dynamic for an album recorded in the eighties.

Owing to the album's silly closing track and the feeling of sameness that pervades three of the album's songs, despite the song's numerous time changes and guitar breaks, four stars is a reasonable rating for Jugula.

Whenever I hear the age old gripe that there's not any good Prog Rock music around and the person is unfamiliar with Roy Harper's work, I always play Jugula for them. And I'm still amazed when the person exclaims "Why didn't I know about this?", which is usually followed by a deep laugh and broad smile from yours truly.

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 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.97 | 147 ratings

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Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars Usually I try to write useful reviews and I try to explain a bit of the album in question or at least give my impressions about the music I listened to. With Roy Harper's fifth album, Stormcock (1971), is almost impossible for me to do so.

This is a kind of music that gets me in a way that is hard to put in words. 4 tracks, basically Roy his guitar and his voice. There are some guests and some fantastic overdubs but they're not the main reason to listen this album.

The way the melodies go on in a hypnotic way make you think how you actually got this little amazing gem get past you all this years??

They say better late than never and I couldn't agree more. It is music for the soul rather than music for the brain (as usualy is with Progressive Rock) and if you open your soul to it you can put this album and forget about the world for 40 minutes. And for me, that's all that really matters!

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 once by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.83 | 9 ratings

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once
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The many black clouds that hang over us all.

Once is probably Harper's most controversial album, at least by the standards of a cult music figure.

His anti Islamic tirade titled The Black Cloud of Islam was composed after Harper viewed TV news footage of a mid east suicide bombing aftermath that showed slain women and children. Harper immediately viewed the coming fundamentalist threat from as far back as the year this album was conceived in 1990. The rest is, as they say, history. Black Cloud is one of Harper's most pointed and barbed attacks on the lunacy of terrorism's collateral damage. He sings only with his own guitar accompaniment, the only such solo outing on this record, and his angry vocal performance rings with sincerity.

But I digress. The first thing I noticed about this album was the smoldering opening guitar notes that could come from no one else than David Gilmour. His coiling guitar slowly awakening is surrounded by a thick cloud of a synth wash before stately acoustic guitar chords ring out slowly, alternating from the left and right speakers until Harper's familiar voice gently fills the sound stage. It's been a while since I last heard Gilmour's opening guitar followed by vocals (wink, wink) and the effect is wonderful.

The opening track Once is Harper's plea for us to live in each and every moment as we only pass this way once. His impassioned choruses are driven home by some caustic sounding guitar from Gilmour that immediately becomes majestic during the songs middle eight. Lush but not overpowering harmony vocals are provided by Kate Bush and Harper's then wife Jacqui, before more of Gilmour's majestic guitar closes out the song. A wonderful way to get an album started.

Aside from his rant in Black Cloud, Harper's has a theoretical meeting with God in the song titled If. When he dies and Harper apologizes for his doubt, God asks Harper to kneel before him, and well, you know this is going to sit to well with old Roy and he tells God so. "Why can't we just talk man to man" Harper asks. Amazing!

A period rant titled Winds of Change questions the motives of the worlds leaders in 1990, while Berliners springs hopeful to those finally set free from behind the newly destroyed Berlin Wall. A touching song from Harper. But it's not his crowning achievement on this album. That honor goes to one of Harper's most beautiful, poetic and transcendent songs titled Sleeping At The Wheel. It is Harper's celebration of losing track of time when sharing that time with a precious loved one. Even if it's only laying in bed together and waiting to catch the sunrise. It's one of harper's finest moments and surprisingly, the song isn't even mentioned in the extensive liner notes penned by Roy.

Two more good songs about love and unity follow. For Longer Than It Takes and Ghost Dance seem a bit subpar after listening to Sleeping At The Wheel, but listened to on their own, they are also among Harper's most emotionally open songs and are quite stellar.

Well it's been another emotional rollercoaster ride with Mr. Harper that I wouldn't have missed for the world. 4 stars.

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 Songs of Love and Loss by HARPER, ROY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Songs of Love and Loss
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars The creation of a lifetime. Literally. Roy Harper will be forever known as an outrageously political singer of Folk Prog songs like The White Man and Dark Cloud of Islam.

But on every album Harper has produced since his first, Sophisticated Beggar, Harper has opened up one of his veins and bled out a song from his heart stating either his adoration of or pain from a romantic relationship.

The first song from this compilation, Black Clouds, comes off Harper's first album and is followed by similar songs from his following albums and not necessary in chorographical order. But it doesn't matter as Harper, like his music, is unchanging in vocal performance and guitar playing and his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve and tell us his deepest feelings.

This album is only available at present in a 2 CD release and download.

The first thing that will strike you is the youthful photo of Harper on the CD's front cover from circa 1966 to a present photo on the inner sleeve is how much Harper has physically changed. The inner photo shows Harper with white hair, receding hairline, bespectacled and looking every bit of his 70 plus years. So you think you be in for a noticeable then versus now sonic comparison. But Roy likes to fool people and his "re-sculpturing" and remastering of these songs can only be differentiated by reading the accompanying liner notes. The sonic quality is simply amazing and is an audiophiles treat.

As far as Progressive Rock goes, the first disc is mostly solo acoustic Roy with little backing except for occasional string arrangements from the late David Bedford, on All You Need Is, or some unlisted sessions players employed by early super producer Shel Talmy (The Who, Kinks,) on North Country, that fleshs out Harper's songs of love and pathos. For those interested in what exactly Ian Anderson refers to when he points out Harper's influence on his acoustic guitar playing will see immediately what he is talking about. Generally one love and loss song follows the other in a sequence that could only make sense to Harper as it's his life. But the message is unmistakable. We have all been there and can relate. But who could open up emotionally like this man? I know of few that have managed to be able to express such emotions and feeling in song and I have been around for a while and have actually heard Bob Dylan sing before he was even famous as well as countless others who were. And none come close to Harper on such a consistent basis that you know that every song must have been an emotional rollercoaster for him record. But we have them and sometimes it's a rollercoaster for the listener. Thank God for two separate discs.

The second disc contains Harper's true Progressive Folk Rock with guest players such as Bill Bruford, Chris Spedding, Dave Cochran and the ever present Jimmy Page. The songs include such concert standards as Hallucinating Light, The Fly Catcher, Cherishing The Lonesome and the stunning On Summer Day (from Harper's most personal album Death or Glory?).

Again, the combination of Harper's remastering and the power of these songs is simply stunning and sometimes emotionally overwhelming. But this album is truly the particular work of a great artist's lifetime and you can tell it was put together by Harper with love.

If you're not into an emotional journey than this double album is not for you. But if you care for some in your Progressive Rock music then step on up. Just remember, you can listen to one disc at a time. As great as this album is, some of us have to. Five stars and have a cigar.

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 Folkjokeopus by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.92 | 26 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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Thanks to Chris Stacey for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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