Roy Harper: Songs of Love and Loss (Union Square)

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Roy Harper: Another Day
Roy Harper: Songs of Love and Loss (Union Square)

English folk-rocker Harper – now 70 – is much eulogised by senior (male) British rock critics and has latterly been hailed by the neo-folk movement (Fleet Foxes, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom etc).

Led Zepp acknowledged him with Hats Off To Harper (on Led Zeppelin III) and he sang on Have a Cigar on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

Schooled equally in American acoustic blues and Anglofolk, Harper assimilated Romantic poetry and odd tunings into his style and although considered part of the British folk scene alongside Nick Drake, John Martyn, Bert Jansch and Davey Graham (all “the late”), he was a man apart for his lyrically expansive songs and often enormously busy, angular finger-picking.

He also brought in electric guitar, strings and a jazz-like direction.

This double disc collection (kick starting a reissue programme) is the ideal, if sometimes difficult, introduction to Harper for the neo-folk generation which might stumble at times over his complex guitar work (he's no thumb'n'strum player) and his angular approach to lyrics and a melody.

For example Girlie here is a four minute psychedelic journey, although is tempered by his straight bat to the traditional North Country and the delightfully gentle Davey (for Graham) and Another Day.

From politics (South Africa) to Hallucinating Light, Harper never underestimates your intelligence or concentration span.

A rare one.

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Your Comments

Jamie Macphail - Dec 12, 2011

I have been hoping for a retrospective of this man's work! I kind of missed him in the day, not sure why!

But I continually hear him referred to, and really enjoyed the following piece he did on Joanna Newsome a while back:

http://bombsite.com/issues/116/articles/5106

Graham, I hope you don't mind me posting a link somewhere else on your site! But it's a lovely article/interview ....

David Trubridge - Dec 12, 2011

I saw him in the day, and still listen to him regularly now - one of the greatest! thank you. . . . bert jansch "late"??

lxmcp - Dec 14, 2011

yep
see link
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15179959

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