Mad as a hatter, eloquent poetic songwriter, expressive soaring voice and deep resonant vibrato, stoner, talker, friend of the stars, irreligious, political antagonist, provoker of journalists – if you don’t know about Roy Harper yet, you will enjoy the adventure. Sixties folkie and singer songwriter in the seventies and beyond, like Dylan he wrote songs with hundreds of verses. One of his greatest albums, Stormcock 1971, only has four songs. Sometimes he has a band sometimes he doesn’t. In the seventies his band included Jimmy Page, Keith Moon and Ronnie Lane. He sang lead vocals on Pink Floyd’s Have A Cigar on Wish You Were Here 1975 and Led Zeppelin wrote a song for him, Hats Off To (Roy) Harper, on Led Zeppelin lll 1970. Apart from that there’s Paul and Linda singing backing vocals on his quintessentially English album, Bullinamingvase 1977. Collaborating with Kate Bush, Dave Gilmour and Pete Townshend and oh yeah even This Mortal Coil did one of his songs, (Another Day), sung by Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser on the debut, It’ll End In Tears. He has collaborated with The Tea Party and progressive Liverpool band Anathema in 1995. Last but not least Jonathan Wilson, (two album reviews on this site), worked with Harper on his last album Man And Myth 2013.
Only Roy’s earliest work is on Spotify and it’s patchy on You Tube, so this is an exclusive acoustic concert at Metroplois Studios in London – guest list, invitation and limited tickets to the public. What follows is a list of the performed songs and which albums they come from. It doesn’t tell the whole story of Roy Harper sonically but it may encourage you to seek out his albums on the strength of his songs, his lyrics, his singing and his uniqueness.
One Man Rock And Roll Band and Me And My Woman both come from Stormcock 1971 . (On the album Me And My Woman is 13 minutes long). There’s two beautiful tracks from Valentine 1974, Twelve Hours Of Sunset and Commune (See the OGWT performance on the In Deep site). Two songs from Flat Baroque And Beserk, Another Day and Don’t You Grieve. Pinch Of Salt is from Descendants Of Smith 1988. (Later re released as Garden Of Uranium 1994). Highway Blues is from Lifemask 1973. Hallucinating Light and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease (US album title) comes from HQ 1975. Frozen Moment is from the collaboration with Jimmy Page, Whatever Happened To Jugula? 1985. (Although Page played with Harper previously under a pseudonym due to contractual limitations – see Stormcock, (S. Flavius Mercurius). The Green Man comes from the album of the same name released in 2000.
In 2013 Roy Harper was charged with sexual assault. He posted that he “vigorously denies the allegations that have been made against him and looks forward to clearing his name” . Innocent until proven guilty on any charges he faces in 2014.