1) Drawn to the Flames 2) Jack of Hearts 3) I
Am A Child 4) Woman 5) I Still Care 6) Work of Heart
Roy Harper has
been quoted as saying, “There is no doubt in my own mind that the early 80s were the nadir of my life in music.” Quite possibly, the early 1980s were the nadir of his life in general. After being dropped from his record label following the release of “The Unknown Solider"
in 1980, Harper lost his house and everything he owned to the bank, and broke up with a woman with whom he had been with for
over ten years. Despite all this he decided to set up his own label called Public
Records and put out an album, eventually entitled, “Work of Heart.”
Harper obviously wasn’t
recording in the best of circumstances mentally, because to put it mildly, there are some less than memorable tracks on here. Mostly this album falls into the trap that is music in the 1980s: Like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, etc… Harper tries to use the new technology
available and attempts to sound current. Every song suffers as a result, including
large portions of the twenty-one and a half minute title track. In short, the
album has too many slick sounding synthesizers and not enough actual instrumentation (something he was just able to avoid
on "The Unknown Soldier").
The entire time
listening to these songs is spent wishing for the opportunity to just hear Harper play them stripped down to the bare
essentials. “Drawn to the Flames” is six and half minute
attempt at an atmospheric piece that fails. It isn’t hideous, but the cheesy
1980s saxophone solo does not help. “I Am A Child” sounds
like a bad Billy Joel song. It IS hideous.
THE WORST SONG OF HARPER’S CAREER. “Woman,”
however, does come close to stealing that coveted title. It kicks off with more
1980s generic trash and has a downright embarrassing middle whispered section. Back
to back terrible songs. Make it back to back to back actually. “I Still Care” isn’t as disgusting as the previous two efforts, but it surely
The one somewhat good song
on the album is “Jack of Hearts.” It has a nice bouncy rhythm
and Harper’s voice sounds more focused here than on the rest of the record. It
still isn’t one of his better efforts, and there are moments of 1980ness that piss me off, but through the gloss there
is a decent tune here. The long suite, “Work of Heart” is
difficult. It could be counted as a good song too, I suppose. There are parts of amazingly catchy moments, but it drowns in that 1980s sound. The best portion is the mostly instrumental middle section. It
is awesome and uses the synthesizers to great effect, with Harper playing guitar reminiscent of “Same Old Rock”
from "Stormcock." Overall though, the tune is still too long
Jewell of the “Sunday Times” voted this as album of the year. I
am not sure what he was listening to though, as this is, quite simply, the worst Roy Harper album ever released. Avoid it by all means.