Roy Harper - Flat Baroque and Berserk

Mike and Tim. My cousins, a few years older than me and my absolute heroes when I was a kid. During the early 60s (remember Beatlemania) they had the records that I just heard on the radio and soon their tastes matured and I was introduced to John Mayall, Al Stewart, Donovan (I know people think he's crap but when he stopped trying to be Bob Dylan he made some bloody great records - "A Gift From A Flower To A Garden" for a start), Traffic and others.

They both played guitars and sang (Tim also played drums and electric piano), and when I was staying with them I was allowed to operate the reel-to-reel machine to record them on tape. After one particular song they began laughing and it continued so I turned the tape off, but they told me that I should have left it running. I didn't know why and they played me a track ("Hells Angels") from an LP that concluded with several minutes of laughing. I didn't get it (too young for the stoned giggles) but I liked the track and later played the whole album - it was "Flat Baroque and Berserk". So, back in London, I bought it - as well as "Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith" which was in a cheapo bin in my local WHSmith.

I hardly ever play Flat Baroque any more, but for a while it was a very important album to me - possibly more for the Mike and Tim connection than for its own sake. Harper seemed to be a really great bloke, he played at free festivals and the Roundhouse and was one of my heroes. He made a film "More" with Carole White that I thought was great (actually hippy garbage), and his followup album "Stormcock" is still a great album and I love it.

I lost interest after "Lifemask" and it amuses me when people tell me about his Nth new album - how the old git keeps going I've no idea. I had the dubious honour of being his sound engineer for a gig at the George Robey and he just seemed like a miserable stoned old git who'd long lost whatever talent he had.

Anyway, back to Flat Baroque. Hells Angels is not typical of the album, it was his first "rock" track (backed by Keith Emerson, Davy O'List and Brian "Blinky" Davison - The Nice) and the rest of the album is him and an acoustic guitar. Sadly it seems to have been recorded in a studio full of mates and there's far too much stoned (how many times have I used that word? Well, that's Harper for you) rapping and rambling to make for comfortable listening now.

I'll tell you all an awful story
Yum yum
They turned me on to the Karelia
of, not on
Each place I go
I'd rather have my country die for me
That's a nice little Guild...
Get me offa this pedestal
Why's he got an apple in his mouth?
Produced by Giorgio Gomelsky
Big Ted's gone, he was a great old pig
I'd swear there was somebody there...
this here next on's rock and roll
notices lean on each other in yearning
are you hung up?