5/26/17 – Roy Harper “Flat Baroque and Berserk” (1970)

Flat Baroque and Berserk is the album Roy Harper released before the monumental Stormcock (1971) that I reviewed earlier here. Although it’s not as brilliant, it’s still a fantastic record that is one of my favorites from Roy Harper. Here the songs are a bit more conventional, with easier to grasp themes and ideas, so I can see how some Folk fans might prefer this over Stormcock.

Harper opens the album with Don’t You Grieve, is an amusing song written from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, but it ends with his ramblings trying to introduce the next song to an audience. Like he mentions it’s a bit of a “desperate move” by Harper, and I kind of agree. I Hate the White Man is provocative to say the least. I can’t say I agree with his views but it’s a great song nonetheless. Feeling All the Saturday is another humorous track where he’s been as cheeky as he his sarcastic.

How Does It Feel is one of my favorite songs of his whole discography, it channels his frustration and angst so well in this biting poem. It shares a lot of similarities with Bob Dylan’s hit Rolling Stone, but I feel Harper’s song excels his in every aspect. The venom Harper spits is so much more bitter than Dylan, I like the instrumentation better (just acoustic guitars) and builds up to a much better conclusion. That’s not to say I think Rolling Stone is bad, that song is also incredible. After that track his anger subsides and is replaced with melancholy and loneliness on songs like Another Day and Francesca. I particularly like the latter song, it’s just so simple and straightforward but Roy Harper’s singing just carries it to another level.

Out of nowhere he channels Neil Young with Hell’s Angels to close out the album. It’s a bit off the beaten path but I like it, especially the long jam that lasts half the song. I wouldn’t go to this album after listening to Stormcock, you might be a little disappointed it’s not as grandiose. So for people who are new to Roy Harper, you might want to listen to this first, then check out his others. Either way, if you’re a Folk fan, you need to listen to his music, it’s brilliant.

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