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Roy Harper - Bullinamingvase [Aka: One Of Those Days In England] CD (album) cover


Roy Harper


Prog Folk

2.94 | 30 ratings

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4 stars Prog Folk: a progressive rock subgenre. At least as defined by Prog Archives. But it amazes me that few grasp exactly what this infers, even with PA's definition. It's simply what it claims to be, a combination of progressive rock and folk rock.

And few albums better exhibit this musical hybrid than Bullinamigvase (Bull-in-a-ming-vase) by Roy Harper, alternately titled One Of Those Days In England due to it's fantastic multipart suite like song of the same name.

Bullinamingvase was recorded at Harper's UK home in Hereford with Studer tape machines borrowed from Abby Road along with talented producer/engineer John Leckie. One Of Those Days In England Part l is a sweet but short album opener that features Paul McCartney and Wings on backing vocals and never hints at the poetic and deeper topic of it's longer multi part album closer that containing Parts ll-X and features juxtaposed soft and harder rocking sections with acoustic slide guitar, electric lead, piano accompaniment and a brief but dramatic string and harp backing score. The song is very Anglo centric and is a celebration by Harper of the history and myths of Great Britain, while simultaneously commenting on the modern realities of the then ruling Thatcher government, unemployment and union/labor problems, IRA terrorism and possible anarchist terrorism. Harper acknowledges 'a sword in every lake' and King Alfred the Great while he satirizes terrorists who want to 'plant a bomb in the street to change law and order and when we've killed all those who resisted the call, we'll discover a brand new wall at the border.'

The key to the catchy melodicism of these suite like songs is Harper finally combining his past overtly acoustic folk songs with the extremely harsh and strident hard rock of his last album H.Q. Equal parts soft and hard rock with polished hooks sells the material as does his brilliant combination of acoustic guitar leads, played by Harper and Andy Roberts before switching gears to a hard rocking vocal and electric guitar assault by Henry McCullough and Alvin Lee, supported by a deft rhythm section on the outstanding ode to romantic rejection Cherishing The Lonesome.

Harper switches gears again for a sublime commentary on failed marriage on Naked Flame which combines more deft acoustic guitar work with the legendary BJ Cole supplanting the music with gorgeous but non intrusive pedal steel guitar leads. The upbeat music is a great contrast to Harper commenting that "lawyers now lurk where lovers one kissed."

If there's any downside to Bullinamingvase, its that residents of countries like America cannot fully comprehend the "Englishness' of Harper's lyrics at times, which I agree can make some Harper's songs quite impenetrable as so much depends on Harper's lyrics, and this will always be Harper's great undoing, I'm afraid.

Bullinamingvase's excellently recorded, mixed and mastered sound helps push this album into the "must have" folk prog category of 4 star albums.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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