Almost Credible Reviews

Home | Album Reviews | WRC Links | Ratings Explanation

hq.jpg

Back To Roy Harper's Page

HQ—8
 
Released: 1975

1) The Game  2) The Spirit Lives  3) Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children  4) Referendum  5) Forget Me Not  6) Hallucinating Lights  7)  When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease

 

Sometime in mid 1975, Harvest label mega sellers, Pink Floyd, were recording their follow up to “Dark Side of the Moon” in Abbey Road Studios.  For some reason, Roger Waters couldn’t get a take on the song “Have A Cigar” that Floyd thought had the right attitude.  They really wanted a new voice…not part of the band, and so David Gilmour brought in his pal and label mate, Roy Harper to sing lead.  Harper flat out nailed the song and Pink Floyd’s new album, “Wish You Were Here,” went on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide.  With Led Zeppelin asking him to open some shows for them and then naming a song after him previously, and now guest appearing on a Pink Floyd album, Roy Harper was set to take the world by storm.  All he needed was a hit album…an album that would rocket him to stardom. 

 

HQ” should have been that album.  Despite previously having made acoustic records that were clever, challenging, amazing, catchy, and heartfelt, Roy changed his sound drastically for this new recording.  Apparently taking his cue from playing with Jimmy Page, Ronnie Lane and Keith Moon on various shows and studio recordings in ‘73 and ‘74, Harper decided to form his own band called Trigger, made up of Chris Spedding on guitar, Dave Cochran on bass, and former Yes and King Crimson member Bill Bruford on drums.  With this new band, Harper set out to make a more rocking, and hopefully, more commercial record.   

 

Strangely, the first track on the album, “The Game,” is not Trigger at all.  Harper still fronts a band though…in fact it is a Supergroup: David Gilmour plays lead guitar, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones plays bass, Chris Spedding adds further guitar work, and Edgar Broughton Band alumnus, Steve Broughton, handles the drumming.  The song itself is over thirteen and a half minutes long and has parts that are very well done, but ultimately leaves me unmoved.  The main riff is a great hard rocker, and the song goes through many musical changes, even having a Mexican vacation like section about ten minutes in…the lyrics, dealing with the various problems of government, society, and personal relationships, are some of Harper’s most focused and brilliant…the singing is typically tremendous…and the band, obviously, is talented…but something is just lacking.  Make no mistake about it, this is still a very good tune (and one that might just be Harper's personal favorite), but it isn’t as instantly ear catching as some of his other long cuts, and it just seems the band never came together to hit its stride.

 

The Spirit Lives,” by contrast, has the feeling that “The Game” didn’t.  The members of Trigger seem to mesh well and really hit a good grove with fine slide guitar work and a biting closing solo, forming Harper’s greatest rock song.  The lyrics here are controversial, dealing with religion and government being instruments of control, and include lines such as “Goodness lives where God is dead,” and “Love is the greatest triumph over Christianity.”  In fact the original title of the song was “God Is Dead.”  I, for one, happen to agree with what Harper is saying and consider this some of the best words he has come up with…combine that with a great rock melody and this is just a tremndous song.  Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children” is Harper doing Elvis.  The song is a rolling, old school, 1950s rocker.  It isn’t a song for the ages or anything, but it is fun and happy, and if Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a hit, why wasn’t this?  This could have been the single that broke the band, but somehow wasn’t. 

 

Referendum” is a major piece of work that apparently picks up where “Legend” from “Sophisticated Beggar” left off.  Trigger, again, hit on something here…they really were a tight band.  The song could have been good with just Harper strumming an acoustic, but Trigger turn it into a lost hard rock anthem.  Forget Me Not” features only Harper and is a standard ballad for him: great guitar, a nice melody, and well done.  Not amazing, but still beautiful.  Hallucinating Light” features Trigger in a mellower mood.  Another ballad, this though has more feeling behind it, with a great church organ backing.  Harper genuinely sounds in love and the tune is slow, but touching. 

 

The closing track, “When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease,” is a very emotional song using a retiring cricket player as a metaphor for life.  I have never seen a cricket match in my life, but the tune really does sound majestic.  If it were about American football or baseball I’d relate better, but as it is, I’m near in tears every time I play it.  I lived in England for over a year while I was a teenager, and this song is just so English…I couldn’t think of a better tribute to a sports star, or really…being a sports lover in England.  Plus the orchestration is sublime and the tune is gorgeous making it one of Harper’s best.

 

Perhaps it was the anti-religious lyrics that turned people away…or the cover created by Pink Floyd’s designers, Hypgnosis, which depicts Harper walking on water.  Or maybe it was just Roy Harper’s lot in life.  Some acts shoot to superstardom with hardly any talent at all, and others, overflowing with talent can’t ever catch a break.  Whatever the reason, there is no excuse for you to overlook it now.  Based on his song analysis book, "The Passions of Great Fortune," this is probably Harper's favorite album he recorded, and it is without a doubt, an excellent piece of work that shows Harper in a more rocking light.

 

emi0031.jpg
The site was designed by Burnttoast45