20 Nov 2011

Roy Harper - Beginner's Guide

Roy Harper is one of the most influential, yet commercially ignored songwriters of the last fifty years.
Since releasing his debut album in 1966 he's put out a remarkably consistent run of classic albums.
The U.K's answer to Bob Dylan, Harper's songs are politically aware, insightful, poetic and deeply personal.
And did I mention that he's a top notch guitar player?
High profile fans include Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, The Who's Keith Moon and The Tea Party's Jeff Martin - all of whom have appeared on his albums. Newer fans include Joanna Newsom, and the Fleet Foxes Robin Pecknold.
Led Zeppelin wrote Hats off to Roy Harper as a tribute to him and Pink Floyd let him sing the lead vocal on Wish You Were Here's Have a Cigar. Clearly the man has some talent.

For beginners I would recommend:

Flat, Baroque and Berserk - His first classic album and a good sampler of the range of his material from politically charged rants ( I Hate The White Man ), to exquisite ballads ( Another Day ) to hard edged rock music ( Hells Angels ). Essential Track : Goodbye

Stormcock - Four long acoustic numbers with incredible guitar interplay between Harper and Jimmy Page, masses of multi-tracked backing vocals and powerful orchestral accompaniment from David Bedford. Most critics cite this as his classic, but it's a little more work to get into than some of his other albums, but very rewarding once you've put the work in. Essential Track : Me & My Woman

HQ - Harper's hard rock album featuring David Gilmour, Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford, John Paul Jones and more this is a pretty incredible 70s rock album with great guitar solos, and quality musicians. Probably my favourite, and essential for fans of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Essential Track : The Game

Counter Culture - A pretty great double CD retrospective chosen by the man himself. The best purchase for anyone wanting to find out what Roy's all about. Lots of great stuff missing, but how do you compress such a long career onto just 2 discs?

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