This 2CD collection has long been awaited. The accompanying booklet is introduced by Roy Harper, explaining the background of the original concept to the arrival of the finished musical compilation. His music has always been sincere and passionate. His lyrics, guitar playing, compositions have included profound observations of the world and life intertwined with personal love songs. Love and lament are often cemented, as Roy says in his writing and singing. He says he was surprised to find that 40% of his recordings were 'love songs'.
This release contains 23 hand-picked and played compositions from Roy Harper covering 1966 to 1992. Reworked and digitally engineered, many or most will be familiar in their original form to his admirers. Starting with 'Black Clouds',an observation of the changing sky reflected in life, through the wonderful 'All you Need Is', lost friend in 'East of the Sun', the everpresent 'Francesca' forever lost apart from memory into the softly sung 'North Country'. There are so many moments of sheer love and heartache in these numbers that are so well explained in Roy's accompanying song notes. Other highlights are the poignant 'South Africa', the affection between brothers on 'Davey' and the final 'Forever',( containing lines "Don't you think we're forever", "Don't ever leave me girl-oh no".) Relevant to us all. The tracks are beautifully 'resculptured' (Mr Harper's words) and delivered with the mastery of an artist with his hallmark vocal craft and guitar playing.
Some numbers have been presented in DVD form on 'Beyond the Door' and 'Legends' in obviously different form but with informative and humourous introductions (e.g. 'Commune', 'Another Day', 'Hallucinating Light',) and are highly recommended.
There is not a dull track on this compilation of CDs. The booklet contains full lyrics as well as discographical details. Longstanding colleagues David Bedford, Jimmy Page, Henry McCullough, Chris Spedding, Ronny Lane are contributors, no doubt due to their affectionate appreciation of this one man rock and roll band.
This is, apparently, the start of Roy Harper's ambition to re-issue his material. This would be an appropriate movement to collect his works. This is marvellous and a great collection of songs from a great man. Thoroughly enjoyable and unmissable. Spread the word.
P.S. This dropped through my letter box whilst Roy was being interviewed on BBC Breakfast by Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams. I never dreamt 40 years ago he would do this. He was his usual perplexing self, explaining the older migrant age pre digital and pre Dansette. Not a man to interview easily. They looked perplexed. Great. What a man.
on 20 September 2011
Nothing more than essential listening..
Firstly this is the physical release of the digital only release that was spat out to a digital public in June as Roy signed his catalogue for digital dissemination. Salvo quite rightly have picked up the rights for the physical product ( of this release)- and to be honest I suspect a general sigh of relief amongst Harper fans to find something to actually get their hands on rather than all this compressed mp3 nonsense. Hats off to Union Square/ Salvo then!
This 2 cd set hand picked by Roy himself together with booklet concentrates on the more pastoral songs from Roy rather than the more lengthy epic compositions such as Me and My Woman, One Of Those Days In England, Highway Blues, One Man Rock and Roll Band - the list goes on. This compilation is a slip road -a sign post to greater joys that lay further down the road should you want to explore further, and if you haven't I strongly urge you to discover one of the England's greatest if not the greatest living songwriter this country has produced in all his crazy rambling glory.
The 23 tracks across the 2 discs journey through his discography picking out the songs that have been Harper live favourites throughout his 80's and 90's shows, so we have Francesca, North Country, Naked Flame, Commune, Frozen Moment, Another Day, Hallucinating Light , Sleeping At The Wheel , Cherishing The Lonesome, The Flycatcher amongst the others. Not a duff track as you would expect.
With Roy Harper now in his 70th year and after the halcyon days of the 60's and 70's , the side stepping waste lands of the 80's and 90's it is heart warming to see this great maverick finally getting the recognition he so rightly deserves (again). Start here and buy up every Harper album you can get your hands on- and marvel at what you have missed . You will not regret it- for those hard core Harpic fans- it's a great compilation and a great package to have all these gems in one place. Essential..nothing more than essential!
on 17 October 2011
If you have not got anything by Roy Harper then this is a great place to start as these songs are some of his most accessible. The thing about RH is that he sets himself incredibly high standards and every song he has ever issued exudes thoughtfulness and honesty. In my opinion he is the single most consistent performer of anyone I have ever listened to. Dylan, Young, Mitchell, Van M., both Buckleys, John Martyn etc etc have all got fantastic canons of music, but they have all hit the occasional bad note. Not so RH.
Now in his 70th year we should treasure him, and if you ever get to see him live (maybe his touring days are over?) then please DO. He is a fascinating character and makes you proud to be English. Worth a visit to the blog on his website too.
There is unlikely to ever be anyone remotely like him.
This wonderful compilation contains many of the great troubadour's most poignant and plaintive songs. A few of Roy's better known works are included, like Another Day, Hallucinating Light and (a personal favourate of mine) Commune, but many more obscure little gems also feature. Nicely packaged, with photos of Roy at various stages through his journey and with a booklet containing lyrics and Roy's personal notes describing the motivation behind each song.
One of music's most underrated performers - what a shame Roy's touring days are over. Having seen him live a few times over the decades, hearing this wonderful music takes me back to my youth.
Unless you already possess Roy's entire back-catalog (and even then, this suberbly "resculpted" collection has much to offer), Songs of Love and Loss is an essential purchase.
on 29 September 2011
There's been (yet another) little surge in interest in Roy Harper's work in recent years. This has maybe stimulated the plan to re-release, digitally, 19 of Roy's 40+ years' worth of albums. These planned releases were recently preceded by this compilation which has now thankfully also been made available on CD.
This double CDs contains 23 tracks that are completely true to the title "Songs of Love and Loss". These are some of Roy's most accessible songs and are well chosen and beautifully remastered (hats off to Messrs Fitzgerald and Harper). As well as full lyrics, the pack contains: a description of how the concept for the album came about / came to fruition; a few notes on RH's early background in music + a sentence or so about each of the songs.
The selection of songs fully demonstrates Roy's expressive singing/ guitar playing as well has his very lyrical/emotive writing (all songs are self penned barring an arrangement of the traditional song North Country).
Even if you already have some of these tracks on previous vinyl/CD, I think this album is still a must buy because of the quality of sound/presentation and the addition of the tracks you dont have. For anybody new to Roy Harper's work, this would be a great way to start and get a bargain 23 tracks/ 90 minutes of music that will warrant many plays.
on 9 November 2011
A superb album. I have seen Roy live twice but have only previously bought Stormcock as I didn't really enjoy some of his other albums. Maybe my taste has changed but I have found both Cds to be brilliant and would recommend them to anyone who likes his music.
on 7 July 2012
This is a great double CD of Roy Harper songs. Again I owe it to my old school friend Adam Dale (circa 1970-yeah I'm an oldie and proud) for telling me about Roy Harper, it just took a long time and a concert in Auckland in the 1980s for the penny to drop that the man is a genius in the best possible sense. Now, the concert had a whole lot of Led Zepplin fans looking a bit put out by Mr Harper's distinct folk bent-although from memory he played some very tasty electric guitar in that solo show. Perhaps he should have sent them home happy with "Stairway to Croydon" but he didn't and that is what makes the man so lovable. On his own track he ploughs taking all before him. Makes Richard Thompson seem positively cuddley. So this is a mix of songs. Self selected and awhile in gestation according to the liner notes. Do they stand up and salute? They do. And early material shows a softer, hippy dippy side. I like the eclectic mix, such as the track with Andy Roberts prog rock like guitar, "The Flycatcher". Buy it and enjoy listening to one of England's greatest singer/songwriters with too much piss and bottle to ever sell out and settle down. Now Adam said buy Stormcock and I still haven't got around to it. Sorry, Adam I will.
on 7 November 2011
Roy Harper at his best. Whilst I already have most of these tracks on vinyl, CD and digital I couldn't resist this package knowing that Roy had spent countless hours re-mastering them especially for this release. It was worth it because this is genius at work.
on 10 November 2011
This is a great cd. Hopefully more Roy Harper albums will be released now.
This arrived very promptly and with sensible packaging.
on 23 May 2013
However this album is just stunning so underrated should be headlining big venues, really something, Just as i remember him