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Roy Harper - Stormcock CD (album) cover


Roy Harper


Prog Folk

4.02 | 174 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars If FJO had signalled the average music fan that he was intending to do more than straight folk, Stormcock is certainly the confirmation of this. Produced by Floyd manager and backed-up by just a couple of guest, including David Bedford for the arrangements, the album sports another B&W photo both on the front and back cover, this album is so inventive that it alone should clinch its PA inclusion

Just four lengthy tracks on this album, which starts on the more basic tune on offer, a descending Hors D'Oeuvre that is a tad too reminiscent of Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man (and a little too still for its 8-mins+ duration), especially in Roy's singing, but then again Cat Stevens would build an entire career on that feature alone. However the following 12-mins+ epic Same Old Rock is an absolutely marvellous and stunning song that starts with Roy's usual singing over his 12-strings guitar play, but as the track progresses, he gets help from Mercurius (that Mr Jimmy Page to you, boy!! ;o)) on second guitar (actually on lead guitar). By the middle of the track Roy has got us sooooooooo deep in his world by multitracking his voice than guitars, so wonderfully done, that you forget that the track is sooo "short" ;o))).

The flipside opens on the explanatory title,7-mins One Man R'nR Band which welcomes Jimmy Page again on lead guitar, developing a bluesey rock while Roy wails away on his vocal prowess, the track is ending on a loud bang that sounds as if you slammed shut the piano key cover while leaving a mike in between the bass strings, a perfect dramatic exit for yet another great tune. The closing Me And My Woman is the highlight of this album (that contains just highlights) and Roy first takes the track to normal folk territory, before David Bedford's conducted strings intervene a first time, solidly changing Harper's tune, taking a poignant solemn tone, before returning with string and horns attacking alternatively, every time bringing more dramatic tension, until the tracks breaks into a duet of 12-strings and oboe and so on for its 12-mins duration. Bedford's horn arrangement sounds a bit like the orchestra's intervention in Floyd's AHM title track.

While most fans will have a hard time pointing out a Harper "best" album, inevitably Storncock and Lifemask are bound to come in most top three and it's really no surprise as the album is poignant and thought-provoking by its lyric content. I'd probably tell the prospective proghead to start here or with Lifemask for a first contact with Harper's delicate world.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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