The first time I saw Roy Harper perform he was perched between two of Landseer's lions, singing 'I Hate the White Man'.
It was an anti-Windscale demo back in nineteen seventy-something or other; Trafalgar Square was heaving.
The next time I caught him was at nineteen seventy-eight's Knebworth Festival, where he played during every change over, keeping the restless, angry, hippie-styled crowd amused until the next big act.
He proceeded to get more and more wasted as the day went on.
His final appearance, which surprised even him I think by its length (Genesis were apparently waiting for absolute darkness before beginning their set; you know, just so everyone could really appreciate the lasers and the nuances of their exquisite light show), was highlighted by the inebriated bard falling, mid-song, backwards off his stool; soles to the sky: roaring with laughter.
Genesis were a bit of a disappointment after that!
This compilation samples Harper's work from the early seventies, highlighting his balladeering spirit and his slightly eccentric, rather twisted take on Englishness and the English folk tradition.
The collection therefore concentrates on his shorter songs; and I guess for a sampler that's only to be expected.
So I've played around with it a bit; adding the full thirteen minute version of Stormcock's magnificent 'Me and My Woman' - seeing as how I'm not limited by groove length - allowing Harper's mosaic-styled, genre crossing compositional technique, often adopted for his longer songs, to be heard.
I've also changed a couple of the originally selected versions of tracks; choosing live versions of 'South Africa' and 'When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease' (both from Unhinged) over the original studio takes, for no other reason other than quality (I'm sorry if that offends any purists. Get your own blog, innit).
So, if you only know Roy Harper as the bloke who sang the vocal for Floyd's 'Have a Cigar', or the geezer Led Zep dedicate what is probably their most unlistenable song to, why not check this out?
And if you know Roy Harper's music a little more intimately, this is a great compilation to accompany any wine-sodden, log-fire-hugging winter's eve; whether of Albion or Abroad.
Roy Harper - 1970-1975 (1978)
Don't You Grieve
I Hate the White Man
Tom Tiddler's Ground
Me and My Woman
I'll See You Again
When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease
Home (with Ian Anderson. Unique to this comp)
Immaculate Vinyl & CD rips @320kbs
Cuddle up with Roy here