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ROY HARPER

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Roy Harper picture
Roy Harper biography
Born June 12, 1941 (Rusholme, Manchester, UK)

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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ROY HARPER discography


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

3.45 | 31 ratings
Sophisticated Beggar
1967
2.69 | 23 ratings
Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith [Aka: The Early Years]
1967
3.72 | 44 ratings
Folkjokeopus
1969
3.69 | 40 ratings
Flat Baroque And Berserk
1970
3.95 | 198 ratings
Stormcock
1971
3.69 | 44 ratings
Lifemask
1973
3.55 | 54 ratings
HQ [Aka: When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease]
1975
2.96 | 35 ratings
Bullinamingvase [Aka: One Of Those Days In England]
1977
3.03 | 16 ratings
The Unknown Soldier
1980
3.64 | 13 ratings
The Roy Harper Band: Work Of Heart
1982
3.58 | 10 ratings
Born In Captivity
1984
3.78 | 30 ratings
Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula ?
1985
3.47 | 8 ratings
Descendants of Smith [Aka: Garden of Uranium]
1988
3.83 | 14 ratings
Once
1990
3.62 | 12 ratings
Death Or Glory ?
1992
2.00 | 1 ratings
Roy Harper & Black Sheep: Commercial Breaks
1994
2.67 | 9 ratings
The Dream Society
1998
4.08 | 15 ratings
The Green Man
2000
3.73 | 19 ratings
Man & Myth
2013

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

4.10 | 11 ratings
Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion
1974
3.54 | 4 ratings
In Between Every Line
1986
3.25 | 7 ratings
Unhinged
1994
3.09 | 2 ratings
Live At Les Cousins
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume VI - In Concert 1978
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume I - 1969-1973
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume II - In Concert 1974
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume III - 1974
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume IV - In Concert 1975
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The BBC Tapes - Volume V - 1975-1978
1997
2.00 | 1 ratings
Royal Festival Hall London June 10 2001
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Beyond the Door
2005

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

3.50 | 13 ratings
Valentine
1974
5.00 | 1 ratings
1970-1975
1978
3.50 | 5 ratings
Loony on the Bus
1988
3.03 | 5 ratings
Hats Off
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
Today is Yesterday
2002
3.91 | 3 ratings
Counter Culture
2005
4.92 | 3 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
Take Me In to Your Eyes
1966
0.00 | 0 ratings
Midspring Dithering
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bank of the Dead (Valerie's Song)
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
One of Those Days in England
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease
1978
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
0.00 | 0 ratings
Laughing Inside
1988
3.00 | 2 ratings
Burn the World
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Death or Glory?
1992
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Death Of God
2005

ROY HARPER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Between Every Line by HARPER, ROY album cover Live, 1986
3.54 | 4 ratings

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In Between Every Line
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars Hot on the heals of Roy's relative success with his Jimmy Page collaboration album "What Ever Happened To Jugular?" , EMI decided to reup with Roy and produced this double live album of Harper and his touring band, which included Page as a guest at some venues. As it was rare for Harper to tour with full band support this live outing, recorded at various venues, is a bit of a gem. The band, consisting of Roy's son Nick on lead guitar, FIRM bassist extraordinaire Tony Franklyn, drummer Steve Broughton and key's man Nik Green, are tight as a drum, with Roy in excellent voice throughout. A solo rendition of "One Of Those Days In England (Parts 2-5)" starts off the album and the song is all the better because of it. This is followed by full band versions of "Short And Sweet", "Referendum", "Highway Blues" and "True Story", all featuring the incredible Jimmy Page, who amps up not only the rest of band and Harper, but the appreciative crowd as well. Excellently recorded, this live album is an absolutely must have for Harper fans, as well as anyone who appreciates well played hard rock. "The Game" from the IQ album is acoustic with just Roy accompanied by his talented son Nick on acoustic lead and is quite good. A manic version of "One Man Rock And Roll Band" with just Roy on acoustic guitar meanders a lot and is less successful, but is still a good song to end the album with. 4 stars.
 The Roy Harper Band: Work Of Heart by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.64 | 13 ratings

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The Roy Harper Band: Work Of Heart
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Mortte

4 stars The begin of eighties Roy was very busy. After making really good "the Unknown Soldier"-album to the Harvest- label and departing EMI because of many disputes Roy decided to form own "Public Records"-label together with Mark Thompson. He had toured with Tony Franklin on bass, Bob Wilson on guitar, George Jackson on Drums and Dave Morris on keyboards. This became "The Roy Harper Band" that would record this album, except drums were played three other drummers. Although "Sunday Times" chose it as "album of the year", it sold really poorly and label went under. Roy even lost his farm into bank. He has later said about those years: "the early eighties were the nadir of my life in music". Four years later Awaraness Records, a small label founded by Andy Ware, made a re-release from this album in a different sleeve and also under just Royīs name. Two years later Roy released "Born in a Captivity", that had demoversions of most of "Work Of the Heart"s material. It came again from Royīs short-lived "Hard Up" label and was soon sold out, but Awareness Records made a reissue with different backsleeve. Original issue is today expensive collectors item.

"Drawn To the Flames" starts album in a really glorious way! It grows slowly and there is really strong singing from Roy. Itīs maybe the most positive piece of him. Same direction continues in "Jack Of Hearts". Itīs almost wholly acoustic, only short synth periods in it. There is very same kind of demoversion in "Born In Captivity" under name "No Woman Is Safe". "I am a Child" is a bright pop piece with really great melody. If things had gone different way, I believe we would hear this song still in the eighties radio channels. "Woman" is a little bit darker than first three, but again it has very good melody! Also this could have become a radio hit. The ending of A-side "I Still Care" is full of hope and light. Really a beautiful piece and again very strong vocals from Roy! But the greatest comes in the B-side, the whole side long title piece, which I think is one of the forgotten Royīs epic! As all of his epics, the main role is in his poetic acoustic guitar playing & vocals. I think itīs as great as "The Lordīs Prayer" or "One Of These Days In England" from the seventies! And if eighties drumsounds, synths and handclappings disturbs you, then listen the whole acoustic version from "Born In Captivity", itīs under name "No One Ever Gets Alive" (later "Work Of Heart").

When I listened this album first time, those plastic eighties sounds disturbed me quite much. But in the second listening I knew what was coming so I just concentrated on music. Itīs so shame Roy didnīt get success with this album! Really he had made eighties music masterpiece! I believe it just had to cause of the poor promotion, weak radio plays etc., because this album sounds just to music that was made those times although itīs lot better than many other! Really Roy would have deserved a charting more than for example Spandau Ballet, Survivor or Twisted Sister. I have to admit as a Royīs acoustic stuff lover I love more "Born In Captivity" than this, but anyway it really is one of the best sides of eighties, when thinking typical music of that decade.

 Royal Festival Hall London June 10 2001 by HARPER, ROY album cover Live, 2001
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Royal Festival Hall London June 10 2001
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
2 stars This concert recording of Roy's birthday celebration at the Royal Festival Hall in 2001 is strictly for Harper's most dedicated fans as it offers nothing new in song performance that hasn't been heard before. Of Roy's guests, John Renbourn is the most noteworthy, but his performance is nothing special, unfortunately. Stormcock orchestral arranger showed up with a string section to bolster a few of Roy's epic tracks, but the arrangements lack the gravitas of a full orchestra and sound somewhat anemic. It's not a bad album and the recording is fairly good, but this one should have stayed in Roy's archives.
 Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London by HARPER, ROY album cover Live, 2012
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars Continuing his elder statesman's role in both performance and recorded output, that started with the fantastic Green Man studio album and the superlative Songs Of Love And Loss 2 CD compilation, Roy Harper performs one of his most mature and accomplished solo outings on this live CD and DVD set.

Harper started off this intimate 12 song concert with a somewhat subdued performance of his prog epic "One Man Rock And Roll Band" , from the vaulted Stormcock album, before relaxing and finding his voice with an emotional reading of "Twelve Hours Of Sunset" from the Lifemask album. Following quickly is an enthusiastic performance of "Don't You Grieve" before Roy clicks off an even more emotional and tender performance of the elegant and moving torch song "Another Day", both from his 1970 masterwork Flat, Baroque And Berserk. Even without David Bedford's strings found on the studio version, Roy's emotional delivery and heartfelt lyrics brought one bloke in the audience to tears. It is one of Harper's finest live moments ever recorded. Harper wisely breaks up his love songs with with an rousing version of "Highway Blues" before going back to singing with his heart firmly on his sleeves with the ever greens "Commune" "Hallucinating Light", "Frozen Moment" and a lush take on "The Green Man". The last song demonstrating Harper's mesmerizing fret work.

While his singing is excellent through out, with Roy hitting all of the prerequisite high notes. However, Harper's only flaw seems to be holding back on his renown vocal hijinks on most of the following songs, which is a bit puzzling until the album's penultimate cut "Me And My Women" from the Stormcock album. Harper ramps up both his guitar intensity and vocals to perform one of the best versions I've ever heard of this celebrated prog folk epic. If that wasn't enough, a majestic and heartfelt performance "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease", from the HQ album as an encore, is the icing on a very marvelous cake. So, Harper was obviously saving his voice for the final blast off.

Roy stayed away from his angry protest songs like "I Hate The White Man", "Hangman" and "The Same Old Rock", but the mature and mellower Roy Harper works just fine without them. The video quality of the DVD is excellent as is the sound quality for both the DVD and CD. 4 stars.

 The Death Of God by HARPER, ROY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Death Of God
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars After completing his 2000 folk baroque masterpiece The Green Man, eccentric British singer/songwriter Roy Harper went into semi retirement. Until the Iraq War broke out in 2005. Claiming that both sides stated or intimated that God was on their side in this conflict, the irreligious Harper took offense and penned this 13 minute multi-suite prog folk protest song (a non album single). It's one of his best, as it's quite humorous as well as being a good piece of music. Stripped down to just Harper's acoustic guitar, with accompaniment by Irish session guitarist Matt Churchill, this song would be right at home on Roy's celebrated Stormcock album. Only some hand percussion and faint keyboards help to embellish it.

While the melodies are uniformly excellent, it's Harper's lyrics that again take the cake. From slipping in and out of the characters of God, suicide bombers and what sounds like a George W. Bush imitation, Harper recounts the tale of an interventionist God who swears that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that his wrath is righteous. Up until he finds out that no WMDs were found, causing this vengeful God to fall out of Heaven and crash down to earth, to his doom. Harper believes that if one can imagine such a deity, then one can also imagine his demise. Simple. Good stuff, as usual from Roy. 4 stars.

 Flat Baroque And Berserk by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 40 ratings

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Flat Baroque And Berserk
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Hewitt

4 stars Although somewhat overshadowed by the magisterial Stormcock, which followed in 1971, Flat Baroque And Berserk is nonetheless an extremely impressive innings from the old cricketer.

Harper's fourth album, and certainly his most consistent up to that point, it was also his first release on what turned out to be a decade long and extremely fruitful association with the EMI Harvest label.

A largely solo acoustic guitar set (a harp accompaniment here, a small string ensemble there) Baroque is packed with strong songs and contains a number of bona fide classics in the Harper canon - the elegiac Another Day, the vitriolic I Hate The White Man.

White Man aside, the prevailing mood is reflective and introspective. There are short and sweet homages to former lovers and to Harper's brother Davey.

Harper's best songs sound as though they demanded to be written and, in these sparse arrangements, the songs and his passionate delivery cut straight to the heart.

Baroque rounds off with the raucous Hell's Angels, which does rather shatter the carefully created contemplative mood, but it's a funky enough psychedelically tinged number and Roy, playing electric guitar and backed by the Nice no less, sounds like he's having a great time.

This record is as fresh as the day it was recorded. Roy Harper has written many excellent songs throughout his long career but, in retrospect, the 70s does seem like a golden era for him, producing a steady stream of ageless albums. This was the first of them.

 Roy Harper & Black Sheep: Commercial Breaks by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Roy Harper & Black Sheep: Commercial Breaks
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Heart of the Matter

— First review of this album —
2 stars A light affair this one, with very capable musicians serving a not entirely worthy purpose. We find misses and hits alike, and of a very varied nature:

The opener, a despicable pop song, coming from some prehistoric form of pop that doesn't dare to say its name, and no one wants even to remember. By charging this hedious thing with an adjective like "poor", one will be conceding too much.

But there are some shots hitting the target, anyway. Those will be the acoustic songs, where Roy's unique voice and phrasing really shine, like "I'm In Love With You", and some rocker in a Thin Lizzy vein, like "Ten Years Ago".

Even so, too uneven to be good.

 Burn the World by HARPER, ROY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Burn the World
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars Burn The World is a multi suite song by Harper that he has bemoaned since is was given a less than stellar reception by EMI Records when Roy presented it them, in demo form, back in 1988. Roy claims the reaction was due to the song's long length and less than commercial stance. That said, I feel that EMI probably rejected the 20 minute song based on the fact that it is disjointed and not one of Roy's more melodious works. Judge for yourself to see if it's par with Roy's 70s output like Stormcock or even Jugular form the 80s. This CD contains only the demo of the song and a live solo version. Both start promisingly enough with rapid sing-song rhyming verses, with Roy bemoaning the brutal state of the world before devolving into more obscure lyrics and musical themes that are not very riveting. Flashes of synths, percussion and proto electronica supplement this acoustic guitar based song. Roy even throws in a piece of music that he had been chucking around for awhile called "Desert Island" in the hope of adding some spice, but this upbeat section, with a Caribbean feel (!), seems totally out of place both lyrically and musically. Even a scorching brief lead guitar solo by Roy's son Nick (not credited), after the first two sections, can't add excitement to the confusing meandering that follows.

The live version is preferable over the home studio demo as it helps to showcase Harper's impressive guitar skills but that's all. Sometimes Roy, the record people are right. 2 stars.

 Loony on the Bus by HARPER, ROY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1988
3.50 | 5 ratings

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Loony on the Bus
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Mortte

4 stars What a great self-irony Roy had with this album name and it's cover!! It came from some reviewer, who has referred him as 'Loony on the Bus'. But instead shaming himself he made a song of that title and even named this compilation of it! There is wrong information about this album in Wikipedia. It says album includes tracks from 'Commercial Break' that EMI refused to release in 1978. As a matter fact there are only six tracks from that album, also one of them is re-recorded and re-named in 1982. Anyway these all tracks are released first time in this compilation. Roy released 'Commercial Breaks' as a whole in his own 'Science Friction'-label in 1994.

This compilation really is a mix of maybe the most aggressive pieces and also very typical, calm pieces of Roy. First 'No Change (Ten Years Ago), recorded in 1980, opens the album in a very strong way and is both musically & lyrically very in it's recording time. Next 'Playing Prison' is very opposite reminding great pieces of 'Stormcock'. It's recorded year before as the first one. But 'punk' direction continues in 'I Wanna Be Part Of the News'. Song has really catchy chorus and in the lyrics Roy is possibly critisizing EMI about how they're waiting him to act in publicity. 'Burn the World (part 1)' really connects Roy's acoustic style and aggression. Roy seems to be fully in this text in a fundamental person world, on the other hand this could be also statement against nuclear power. 'Casuality' from 1982 reminds a lot Talking Heads of the same year.

'Cora' starts the B-side, it's from the abandoned album of 1977 and again really catchy! Then come very black humor title piece, it's quite acoustic, but has also aggression. Roy really empathizes 'loony's' world! 'Come Up and See Me' & 'The Flycatcher' are both very beautiful pieces from that abandoned album, but specially the latter one really would have a hit potential! The first time I heard I thought I have heard it before, but then I noticed it has lots in common for much later came Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds pieces 'I Let Love In' & 'Where the Wild Roses Grow'. Also in chorus there is something same as 'Do You Believe the Day' in Jethro's Thick as a Brick. Roy re-recorded 'The Flycatcher' in his 'The Unknown Soldier'-album, but some reason EMI didn't release it as single. 'Square Boxes' ends this great compilation in a very 'loony' way asking 'more tea vicar?'.

I don't quite understand why there were difficulties in the relations of Roy and EMI from the beginning (it seems EMI didn't want to support Roy's great album 'Stormcock' at all when it came, although his earlier album sold quite well). I believe Roy could have got punk/new wave fans into his 'Commercial Break' album in 1978. Really all the old artists weren't unfamiliar that time (not for example David Bowie, Lou Reed & Iggy Pop, this Roy's album really seems to fit in that group). But maybe EMI just had then bad attitudes towards all kind of punk/new wave music, as far as I know they didn't sign many punk/new wave artists that time.

Although Roy wasn't on the everybody's lips in the eghties, he has never been truly 'loony on the bus'. Not even he didn't ever made the international breakthrough as for example Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen. There has been plenty of musicians respected him and influenced by him, for example Ian Anderson, Jimmy Page & Dave Gilmour. Also he has always got small, but loyal fanbase. Although this compilation is not a masterpiece, it's very essential & great album!

 Burn the World by HARPER, ROY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Burn the World
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by Mortte

4 stars I am not sure is this single or E.P at all. I believe reason it has put in album section in Discogs is that hereīs two almost 20 minute pieces. Although the first one is demo-version of the epic "Burn the World" and another live version of it, I think this is one of the most interesting piece from Harper after seventies and hard to understand why it seems to be very ignored. Roy made a song called "Burn the World" already in the seventies, but it was released in his "Looney On the Bus"-compilation 1988. It has same atmosphere as this epic, but itīs different and got Part 1 in the parathesis. Really when these are listened in a row the epic one sounds like a continuum. Roy made the demo heard this record when making album "Descendants Of Smith" but as I thought in that album review, EMI didnīt saw any commercial potention in it and in the album was only a part of it as song "Desert Island".

Although the A-side is just demo recording, I think itīs really high level made. There has added some electro elements and Daft Brush is adding exotic percussive instruments. There is really great short guitar solo, that was originally said to be played by Dave Gilmour, but Harper has later said to be played by Tony Franklin. But the main role in this piece as in many Royīs epicīs is in Royīs great vocals & acoustic guitar playing. B-side live recording is even more naked than studio, but intensity of Royīs performing is higher, so these both versions really are worthwhile to hear!

I donīt know is the reason to ignore this Royīs great piece thinking that Roy exhorts people to terrorism in this piece. How I have understand the words itīs more Roy is showing the reasonīs for the peopleīs fundamental behavior. Also he isnīt just totally pessimistic of the worldīs situtation, he still seems to see there is a chance to change. And the last words canīt be misunderstood: "the poems in the wind whispering why burn the world?".

To me this album rise into level of Royīs best works!! Really like to give it five stars, but there are few moments in both versions that would have needed something. We never knew, how the final studio version would have sounded, if EMI had left Roy record this great piece in his album. All way I think this is must to all who loves Roy īs music!

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

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