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Work of Heart—3
 
Released: 1982

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 isn’t good. 

 

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 and sleek.

 

Somehow Derek 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.

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