Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hats Off to Roy Harper

Roy Harper, semi-legendary folkie in an alternate universe, and sometime resident of various mental institutions, is about to have his moment in the sun. Virtually his entire early catalogue, consisting of 9 albums recorded from the late '60s through the mid-'80s, is about to be re-issued (and issued for the first time in the U.S.) on Koch Entertainment. Here he is looking pensive, and much younger than he now looks.

Why should you care? Well, for several reasons. First, he's very good. Fans of the doomed romantic strain of folk music, a la Nick Drake, will find much to love. Second, he hung out with the greats, and you probably already know Roy Harper even if you think you don't. "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper," from Led Zeppelin III is about him, and that's Roy on lead vocals on Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar," from Wish You Were Here. Third, Jimmy Page (billed as S. Flavius Mercurius) plays all over these albums, including some riffs that would later come to roost on the official Led Zeppelin releases. If you only buy one, buy Stormcock, from 1971. But buy it. It's a brilliant album, full of ten-minute winding, idiosyncratic folkie suites with strings and horns, and some astounding riffing between Harper and Page.

3 comments:

Matthew said...

How do I not know about this guy?! For all the years I've been listening to "Have a Cigar" I thought David Gilmour was singing. Well, I'm glad to come across blogs like this that set me straight and teach me about musicians that live under the noise pollution.

Thanks for the info on Ed Askew, by the way.

Living the Biblios said...

Roy Harper is definitely one of those great, but under appreciated artists.

fidel said...

Stormcock and Lifemask were like jewels from another universe....well I was 15-16. Listening back all these years later I'm glad to know I was not wrong....unique and wonderful music.