one faint deluded smile

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bull In A Ming Vase Indeed

Roy and Rob Cross Dressing - Plant makes a very nice woman

I'd listened to most of Roy Harper's albums throughout my later teens and early twenties but only really loved HQ because it was full of rock band instrumentation and left the simple guitar and voice on just a few tracks. Ya see, I really, really hated singer songwriters at that stage of my life, even one as out of place and individual as Harper.

Then, just recently, I read a good review of the '74 comp of early material "Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion" and thought I'd give it a go. Ofcourse, I found out I loved the damned thing from start to finish and so acquired all his releases. Not all of them are great but every single one contains many, many fine songs. I think I like them so much because of the combination of the high sweet voice with such off centre melodies. And he's not maudlin - there are many moments when his quirky humour takes over.

Here's a few good ones:

mp3: Don't You Grieve
mp3: Forget Me Not
mp3: One Of Those Days In England
mp3: One Man Rock and Roll Band
mp3: South Africa

You can buy all his albums + lots of BBC material (he was a perennial Peel favourite) at his own web site.


  • i got bull in a ming vase in the early 80s. roy harper is very british. i like that sort of britishness as i like richard thompson's britishness. but i don't love it as i love the smiths (or pink floyd when they were young). it's eccentric and not trying to appeal to anyone outside of britain. which in itself is quite adorable.

    By Blogger Alexander, at 9:18 am  

  • i agree with you about his sense of culture. "when an old cricketer leaves the crease" is a beautiful song but it makes most sense to someone from the commonwealth. his earlier material is a bit less british in some ways. and, boy, he sure likes long tracks - definitely not radio friendly.

    By Blogger Phil, at 11:22 am  

  • I have been listening to "Flat, Baroque and Beserk" a lot recently as well as "Folkjokeopus." Flat is a killer by anyone's standards and to me it is a shame that lesser lights of acid-folk (or whatever you want to call the genre) get more ink spillage than Roy because of the rarity/obscureness of private press fandom. Been a follower of NNS for a long while here in the US but just now decided to chime in.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 am  

  • jb - thanks for chiming in. i have to admit that i haven't heard the early albums you mention. i'm waiting to borrow these from a friend and... can't wait. for me it really is the voice that makes me come back for more - someone mentioned that he sound uncanily like a bell on "south africa" from the flashes... compilation. truely beautiful.

    By Blogger Phil, at 11:57 am  

  • You all ought to check out "Stormcock". Only 4 songs, all acoustic, mostly unaccompanied save for strings, and an excellent acoustic solo from Jimmy Page. My favorite of Roy's, and I've been listing to Roy since "HQ" was new in '75, though the copy I had was "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease", which is my second favorite. Also, his son, Nick, is a chip off the old block, and a better guitarist, I think.

    By Blogger Tobubuta, at 1:27 pm  

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