Monday, November 10, 2008

by Chrille

Roy Harper - Bullinamingvase (1977)

Harper followed HQ with another superb rock-oriented classic, the interestingly titled Bullinamingvase. The album will forever be remembered for its controversial track "Watford Gap," and with lyrics which supposedly defamed the town and service station of Watford Gap. Harper ran into legal problems when the town voiced their extreme distaste of the song, resulting in the record company's removal of the composition from the album. It was replaced with the light but solid "Breakfast With You." Both songs are included in the 1996 CD re-release, remastered with 20-bit supermapping. But the album's strengths lie elsewhere. The compositions are laced with beautiful passages, both musically and lyrically, and the vibrant acoustic guitar work on tracks like "Cherishing the Lonesome," "Naked Flame," and the epic "One of Those Days in England (Parts 2-10)" are likely to never be surpassed. The powerful, energetic passion, brilliant lyrics, and driving force of "Cherishing the Lonesome" make for one of Harper's greatest accomplishments. "Naked Flame" impresses equally with its clean, country-tinged guitar work. The jewel in the crown, though, is "One of Those Days in England (Parts 2-10)." The lyrical content, a collection of reminiscences, is striking, being at once trenchant/biting and beautiful. The piece is comprised of many movements, opening (with guitar) like a looming cloud foreshadowing the storm and darkness that lie ahead. Suddenly, after the introductory verses, the guitar picks up and the clouds begin breaking apart, allowing the sun to shine through. The song becomes hopeful before changing moods once again, with Roy's voice at its peak. The song benefits from wonderful use of lap steel guitar with strings fleshing out several movements. Bullinamingvase also contains the radio friendly pop tune "One of Those Days in England," the closest Harper ever came to having a hit single. This is also the alternate title of the album. It is interesting to note that, even though most of the lyrical content is presented in the CD booklet, several lines/verses have been purposefully omitted from the printing, such as much of "Watford Gap" and the opening of "One of Those Days in England (Parts 2-10)." Upon listening to the tunes, the reason becomes quite clear. Listen for uncredited vocal contributions from Paul and Linda McCartney. ~ David Ross Smith, All Music Guide

Roy Harper - Commercial Breaks (1977)

Roy Harper - The Unknown Soldier (1980)

Roy Harper - Work Of Heart (1982)

Roy Harper - Whatever Happened To Jugula (1985)

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page backs Harper up on this album and earns co-billing for his trouble. The guitar interplay turns out to be the highlight of the album. Harper displays a nihilistic attitude toward everything in general, and quite a few things in particular. He sings of things dire and hopeless in his thin tenor, while standard-issue folk and rock play behind him. Not that he doesn't have a sense of humor about it -- a sleeve note introduces the final song by saying, "The best thing to do with the next track is to take a hot soldering iron and pull it fairly swiftly across the track..." Given that the song features the sound of the artist urinating and that the chorus goes, "I'm really stoned," this may not be such a bad idea. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Roy Harper - Garden Of Uranium (1988)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

How Download the Records?

29 July, 2009 07:23  
Blogger Elliot Knapp said...

Bullinamingvase was definitely Harper's EMI swansong--good thing he managed to thrive as an indie after a rocky start. Wrote about this album on my blog here.

16 May, 2011 13:16  

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