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Roy Harper

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Roy Harper


At the onset of this century, the status of Roy Harper's recorded works are in utter disarray, and it seems likely that what is now available may soon pass uncontested into limbo. Madness! But despite the vocal admiration expressed for him by Jimmy Page (cf. "Hats off to (Roy) Harper" on Led Zeppelin III) and David Gilmour (Harper performed the vocals on Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar"), Harper has yet to receive his proper due. An enigmatic performer, he always manages, in a way, to do the impossible by being two places at one time. On stage and on tape he can at once be folk's most outspoken firebrand and its subtlest, deepest suffering romantic. Witness 1970's Flat Baroque & Berserk, an excellent example of Harper's ability to weep tears of rage with one eye, tears of sorrow with the other. "Another Day" is heart-rending, poignant and frail, while the anti-racist "I Hate the White Man" is a precisely aimed gob of spit. Though worlds apart in tone, both songs produce a similar end result by catching people in art's cracked mirror and thereby multiplying and magnifying their shortcomings. Harper takes his craft as seriously as his subjects, as if all might not be lost for man -- if he (Harper) could just come up with the right song.

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