Almost Credible Reviews

Home | Album Reviews | WRC Links | Ratings Explanation

folkjokeopus.jpg

Back To Roy Harper's Page

Folkjokeopus—5 

 

Released: 1969

1) Sgt. Sunshine  2) She's The One  3) In The Time of Water  4) Composer of Life  5) One For All  6) Exercising Some Control  7) McGoohan's Blues  8) Manana

 

With “Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith” failing to impress many, Roy Harper began his search for a new label and was picked up by Liberty.  Keeping Shel Talmy as producer, it seems Harper was in a transitional period, attempting to find his style.  Why he thought he had to deviate from the sound on his debut is beyond me, but nonetheless, he struggled forward and released “Folkjokeopus.”  This album is far from his best, but does have a few diamonds in the rough.

 

Sgt. Sunshine” fits that bill, as it is a very good album opener, with portions sounding very similar to the Dylan classic, “Its Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”  Nevertheless, it doesn’t sound THAT much like it, and it has too many great musical changes and female backing harmonies to be anything less than excellent.  It is a complex piece of work and probably the best song here.  She’s The One” has an annoying vocal hook in which Harper sings way too high.  While it might be impressive, it still sucks the life out of this otherwise bouncy and enjoyable tune.  Well, it would be otherwise enjoyable if it weren’t almost seven minutes long!  It could have been half that, easily.  In The Time of Water” starts with underwater recordings and features Harper, for the only time in his career, on sitar.  It isn’t bad by any means, but it is far from essential.  The music box like “Composer of Life” doesn’t do anything to better the listening experience.  It features a recorder solo and strange Chinese sounds.  I guess it is beautiful, but so is Carmen Electra, and she has no talent.

 

One For All” starts off with amply played acoustic guitar, sounding absolutely majestic.  After over three minutes of Harper’s spellbinding picking, he sings one single verse he wrote as a tribute to jazz musician and friend, Albert Ayler, and then goes right back into his dazzling guitar playing—an amazingly expressive tune and a very heartfelt tribute indeed.  Nicky Hopkins guests on piano and plays perfectly (as always) on “Exercising Some Control,” but the tune is just plain silly.  It actually is kind of funny in a lame Paul McCartney kind of way and isn’t really bad, it is just severely out of place coming after such a serious artistic statement. 

 

McGoogan’s Blues” is Harper’s first extremely long track at almost eighteen minutes.  He claimed to have included to try and "address some of the shortcomings of 'Circle' and 'Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith' of the previous record."  Harper sings with conviction and the lyrics are very impressive…being anti government, religion, pop stars, television and society as a whole.  The song is surely emotional and distressing, but it doesn’t waver from its acoustic chord pattern.  Although lyrically Harper is a genius and proves it here, sonically, he just beats you with the same verse after verse of the same tune.  But suddenly, after thirteen minutes of never changing acoustic strumming, a piano, bass, and drums kick in and the song jumpstarts into happiness.  An excellent tempo change, but you probably didn’t make it this far.  It would have been a highlight had it been cut down to seven minutes, but as it is, although impressive, it just doesn’t keep my attention the way his later long tracks would.  Manana” follows and is another attempt at humor and continues Harper's tardition of an insane album closer.  Just like “Exercising Some Control,” it is lame, dumb, and out of place.  But unlike that previous effort, this tune lasts almost five minutes and thus looses whatever thin charm it was basing itself on.

 

Folkjokeopus” is an average record by a talented man who hadn’t yet found his niche.  It is a more focused effort than “Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith,” and offers far less in terms of experimental sounds, but still fails to really stand out.  Amazingly, only a year later, Harper would release “Flat Baroque and Berserk,” an album of songs where even the worst tune is better than almost every song on “Folkjokeopus” or its predecessor.

emi0031.jpg
The site was designed by Burnttoast45