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Flashes From The Archives Of The Oblivion—8   
 
Released:  1974

1) Commune  2) Don't You Grieve  3) Twelve Hours Of Sunset  4) Kangaroo Blues  5) All Ireland  6) Me And My Woman  7) South Africa  8) Highway Blues  9) One Man Rock And Roll Band  10) Another Day  11) M.C.P. Blues 

 

This is Roy Harper with his pants down (presumably why he is found that way on the cover and why it is entitled "Flashes...").  It is just Roy and his songs, live, “recorded at various concerts up and down England at one time or another.”  There are smatterings of Harper laughingly chattering with the audience and guest stars Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, and Ronnie Lane on some tracks.  (David Gilmour, John Paul Jones, and Ian Anderson also might be on some songs, as it isn’t clear where and when these tracks were recorded).  The only previously unreleased tune, “Kangaroo Blues,” is a funny social commentary that the audience seems to really enjoy…it is hard hitting and a good recording. 

 

Virtually every other song here equals or betters its studio counterpart, although the effect Harper has on his vocals on “One Man Rock and Roll Band” and “Highway Blues” tends to get a little annoying.  Special attention should be brought to “Me And My Woman” which is played at a much faster pace and might be even more effective without its orchestration.  Another highlight includes what should be the definitive version of the elegant “South Africa.”  “Male Chauvinist Blues Pig Blues,” in a slightly different form, is  exclellent and surpasses the orginal by a few strides.  At the end of “Highway Blues,” Harper discusses having sex in public and there are various beeps, catcalls (literally), and psychedelic doodling which last for about five minutes.  Uh…yes, Roy, we all know you are crazy J…and if you didn’t know, just give this a listen—it will show you.

 

This would also probably be a good time to mention that John Leckie engineered this album (just as he did on Roy’s previous three albums), and continued to work with Harper into the 1990s.  Leckie has been involved with so many of my favorite albums that I think he deserves some sort of recognition…George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” John Lennon’s “Plastic Ono Band,” Pink Floyd’s ”Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here,” the Stone Roses’ ”Stone Roses” and “Second Coming,” and Radiohead’s “The Bends.”  He has also worked with such bands as Spiritualized, the Fall, Simple Minds, The Posies, XTC, Paul McCartney, and many more.  This guy must have something to do with it all!  I have neglected David Bedford in these reviews as well.  He is responsible for the orchestra arrangements on some of my favorite Harper albums and is quite a gifted keyboard player in his own right, working with Elvis Costello, Mike Oldfield, and Billy Bragg.  He does an amazing job on this album with “Another Day,” arranging the live orchestra.

 

I’m not really sure how to rate this…live music always gives me problems.  The performances are all great, but I am more of a studio man myself.  I like to hear how the artist sounds on stage sure, and I love going to shows…but giving grades on concerts isn’t something I like doing.  Still, this is an easy to listen to record and is the album to get if you are curious of how Roy sounds live. 

 

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