ON TRACK… ROY HARPER: EVERY ALBUM, EVERY SONG
Opher Goodwin SONICBOND
Compelling, in-depth portrait of the folk rock maverick.
Aprecis of Roy Harper’s early life: mother dies shortly after his birth; father remarries strict, religious woman; Roy gets into all sorts of trouble; joins RAF then leaves by faking mental illness – reinforces why he became an outsider, mixing romantic, poetic songs with acerbic diatribes against religion and contemporary society.
Goodwin knows Harper personally, and gives us insight into both his complex character and background information on the songs. His style is conversational and a tad casual, but engaging throughout. Harper’s experimental approach and “truculent” personality produced clashes with producer Shel Talmy on 1968’s Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith, Goodwin posits that “the musical culture of the time didn’t really suit him”, but he really came into his own when he signed to Harvest and was given free rein on Flat Baroque And Berserk (1970). Goodwin maintains critical objectivity but he’s ultimately a fan. He says 1971’s Stormcock “should have been heralded as [prog’s] finest achievement”, gives a fair hearing to some of Harper’s lesser work and gets particularly animated when assessing his last album to date, Man And Myth.