Roy Harper ‘Live in Concert’ CD + DVD (Sound and Vision) 4/5

roy-harperEnglish folk singer Roy Harper cut some of the prime music during the classic era of the early-mid 1970s and his 1971 album ‘Stormcock’ has acquired legendary status. This excellent package that groups together a recent live performance in both CD and DVD formats serves as an introduction to Harper’s major contribution to the folk scene and his very poetic approach to songwriting. This is heard to best effect on melodic masterpieces such as ‘Another day’ with its Tibetan tea reference. It is an endearing tale of lost love. Little wonder Roy Harper was a regular on John Peel’s radio programme and in fact he recorded over a dozen sessions between 1967 and 1978. One song to make it into the Peel festive fifty in 1976 was a song included here, ‘When an old cricketer leaves the crease’ and among his long-time fans this has come to represent the definitive Roy Harper sound. Folk-blues flavours permeate ‘The Green Man’ which is another evocative piece and allows the listener to appreciate just what a fine guitarist he is. Elsewhere there are raunchier hues as on ‘Highway Blues’ with some vocal improvisations and some musing over his career during ‘Don’t you grieve’. If folk with a gritter edge is what you are in search of, then Harper can deliver with aplomb as on ‘One man rock and roll band’. For new listeners to his music, it is important to recognise that during the 1960s Roy Harper shared the same stage with the all-time greats such as Paul Simon and Sandy Denny. The DVD is approximately ten minutes longer than the CD version and thankfully includes some of the witty banter for which Roy Harper is best known and loved. In general, this provides a lovely intimate setting which is the ideal environment in which to hear the singer-songwriter’s craft. A bonus fifteen minute interview on the DVD focuses primarily on his childhood influences.

Tim Stenhouse