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Man & Myth

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Audio CD, October 29, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

An idiosyncratic British singer/songwriter acclaimed for his deeply personal, poetic lyrics and unique guitar work, Roy Harper was born June 12, 1941, in Manchester, England. As a teen he tenured with De Boys, his brothers' skiffle band, before leaving home at the age of 15 to enter the Royal Air Force; he subsequently secured a discharge by faking insanity, resulting in a short stay in a mental institution (where he was the subject of an ECT treatment). His rebellious attitude eventually led to him spending a few months in prison. Harper later drifted throughout Europe, and by 1965 was a mainstay of London's Les Cousins folk club, performing alongside the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Nick Drake.
In 1966 the tiny indie label Strike issued Harper's debut LP, The Sophisticated Beggar; the record brought him to the attention of Columbia, which released his sophomore effort, Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith, the following year. In 1968, Harper mounted a series of free concerts in London's Hyde Park, which greatly expanded his fan base in preparation for the release of 1969's Folkjokeopus, which included 'McGoohan's Blues,' the first of his many extended compositions.
After meeting Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner, Harper was signed to EMI's Harvest subsidiary, and in 1970 he issued Flat Baroque and Berserk, recorded with contributions from members of the Nice; that same year marked the appearance of Led Zeppelin III and its track "Hats Off to Harper," a tribute penned by longtime friend Jimmy Page. Upon relocating to the Big Sur area of California, Harper began writing 1971's Stormcock, regarded by many as his finest record; the following year he starred in the film Made, releasing the music he composed for the picture's soundtrack in 1973 under the title Lifemask.
Valentine, a collection of love songs, appeared in 1974, and was quickly followed by the live album Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion, featuring appearances by Page, Keith Moon, Ronnie Lane, and Ian Anderson. In 1975, Harper formed Trigger, a backing group including guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer Bill Bruford; however, after releasing just one LP, HQ, the unit disbanded. In 1975 Harper also took lead vocals on 'Have a Cigar,' a track on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. Two years later he resurfaced with Bullinamingvase; the single 'One of Those Days in England,' with guest vocals from Paul and Linda McCartney, nearly even became a hit.
With the same group of musicians who recorded Bullinamingvase, Harper cut another LP, Commercial Break, but the album went unreleased. Due to financial problems, he did not issue another album until 1980's bleak The Unknown Soldier. Upon leaving EMI, Harper founded his own label, Public Records, releasing Work of Heart in 1982; despite the usual good press, the album failed to sell, and Public soon went under. After selling the limited-edition 1984 set Born in Captivity at gigs, the next year he released the album Whatever Happened to Jugula? with Page.
Harper re-signed to EMI in 1986, recording the double-live LP In Between Every Line. Descendants of Smith appeared two years later, and when the record stiffed he moved to the Awareness label, issuing Once in 1990. By 1991 his son Nick was performing with him regularly; upon the release of 1992's Death or Glory?, Awareness folded, again leaving Harper without label support. He soon founded his own company, Science Friction. The label issued the six-volume BBC Tapes in 1997. Resurgent was the label for 1998's The Dream Society, but lack of interest returned Harper to his cottage industry. His Science Friction label released 2001's The Green Man, and a month later Capitol released the oddball compilation Hats Off. Four years passed before the compilation Counter Culture appeared. all of it, however, was merely a precursor to the release of Man and Myth.

1. The Enemy
2. Time Is Temporary
3. January Man
4. The Stranger
5. Cloud Cuckooland
6. Heaven Is Here
7. The Exile

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 29, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2013
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Pias America
  • ASIN: B00F42A068
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,504 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 29, 2013
Format: MP3 Music
This is a really good album. I've admired Roy Harper ever since I was about 16 years old and spent hours lifting the needle on and off Flat Baroque And Berserk while learning Baby Don't You Grieve and others. I've not always liked what he has done since (including seeing him live where he could scarcely sit up, let alone perform), but on form the man's a fantastic songwriter, composer and performer and he's really on form here.

These are classic Roy Harper songs: great chord structures, fine melodies and intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. The songs are honest, poetic and remarkably insightful in their typically Harperish sidelong, allusive way. He sings and plays with all the old finesse and passion, and he's gathered a terrific band around him (including the likes of Pete Townshend). The result is a sequence of riveting songs, excellently played and produced and reflecting on a very rich and varied life. Time Is Temporary really speaks to me especially and the epic, Greek-myth-tinged Heaven Is Here is quite outstanding, but I think every single track is very good and some are real Roy Harper classics - which is saying a lot.

I've not enjoyed a Roy Harper album as much as this since Stormcock, which I regard as a true classic. Very warmly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. H. Orton VINE VOICE on November 3, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
So, chances are you've heard the Stormcock fly through the gales, trespassed on Tom Tiddler's Ground and eavesdropped on what happens When An Old Cricketeer Leaves the Crease. It's not every day Roy Harper releases a new album and at 71, the prospect is likely to be an even rarer occurrence in the future. Unlike his last, Green Man, Man & Myth feels like an album as opposed to a batch of songs cobbled together. As hoped for, this is an album that could care less about the outside world, looking inward as it does. Whether grasping for ghostly moments of the past or tossing nightmares at the cage of indifference. Vocally, he sounds as deft and haunting as he ever did. In terms of production, electric guitars, strings and banjos creep up and fade out, but the album has its most powerful moments when Harper's voice and acoustic guitar are left alone and for the most part the production doesn't intrude.

The Enemy is a promising start, Time Is Temporary and January Man deal with loss and mortality which seems to be the album's overriding theme and darkly hint at hidden tragedy. Then The Stranger kicks with "it's the old ghost I'm weary of". While I find the saxophone on Cloud Cuckhooland jarring and distracting, there's something to be said for the presence of Pete Townsend and the refrain " we are condemned to make the same mistakes over and over and over again".

It's the longest track, Heaven Is Here where Harper holds court and fort on the same transcendence fans of Stormcock and Life Mask beg for. Lyrically it is the story of Orpheus on the surface, summoning up Jason and Argonauts, the Golden Fleece and Eurydice before sailing off "into the end of now".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Filbert Fox on November 10, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I started listening to Roy Harper when I was a young lad still in skool back in old Ingerland, in the days of Flat Baroque and Berserk. His 'themes' have changed little since those days, primarily railing at the system, and occasionally reflecting on the irrefutable ignorant vileness and fascistic oppression of organised religion(s). I was at the Hyde Park free concert when Roy had the Dr Doom The Optimist slogan on the back of his shirt, I was at the legendary Rainbow Theatre St Valentine's Day Massacre concert, and I saw him at the Royal Albert Hall pretentiously doing the Lifemask Lords Prayer which I never had much use for. In later years I saw him doing poetry at that Hammersmith Church poetry festival event where everyone just wanted him to sing songs. I saw him a few more times before I happily emigrated over here to what used to be the fabulous freedoms of Reagan Country, in rather more humble English venues. I flew back to Ingerland just before the cowardly racist terrorist attack on 9/11for his 60th birthday concert at the Festival Hall. I also bought his lyric book The Passions Of Great Fortune. I have every studio album he released, and several of the live ones.

Like many Harper fans, it's been a lifetime of listening to his output. Some of it has been execrable, some of it far far better than superb. The Same Old Rock and The Game are as close to genius as it gets. I've never been able to "get into" The Green Man. But HQ, Stormcock and Flat Baroque and Berserk are easily his best three all but perfect albums. Most of Valentine, Folkjokeopus and bits of Once, Come Out Fighting Ghenghis Smith, BullinaMingVase and Unknown Soldier are also Harper at his best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wayne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2013
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
I'll assume that anybody buying this is a Roy Harper fan. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it as your first Roy Harper album. It's not a weak album and it's one that grows on you. But it's not one that dazzles from the beginning. I won't make this much of a record review since there are plenty of music sites to do that part.

I'd also like to comment on the format, since it's the first Roy Harper album available on vinyl in years. The "import" is many times as expensive, and the "US version" is on Bella Union records, which is a UK label. It comes in a UK style record sleeve, but it's been so long since LPs have been produced regularly in the US that it makes little sense to say what would be typical. The jacket itself has a UPC and mine had another UPC on a sticker outside of the shrinkwrap, covering the printed one. So I'd bet that it's the same LP pressed in the same place.

The other difference is that the "import" version is advertised as coming with a CD. The US one makes no such claim, but mine came with the CD. That put the cost of the LP at $9.84 above the cost of the CD at the time I got it. To put it another way, if you are planning to buy the CD, you get the LP with it for another $9.84 but don't get the CD case or artwork. You do get the LP sleeve and full sized version of the artwork instead.
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