The Old Cricketer Returns

So I haven’t been on here for a while (ages). Busy. I’m back, though! Here’s a recent discovery that is simply refusing to leave the speakers: HQ by Roy Harper (1975):

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You’ll really understand Roy Harper if you’re British. He seems to encapsulate something unexplainable about the country; his own little slither-slice of the intangible aura of England. In the most famous track on HQ, When an ‘Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease’, he captures a village cricket match as the sun sets and the brass band fades, his voice full of painfully bittersweet nostalgia for times passed. The legendary John Peel asked for this song to played in the event of his death.

HQ kicks off with a 13-minute rocker, ‘The Game’, which features Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones and Bill Bruford. Angry rock turns to pastoral grandeur, which is then swiftly followed by ‘The Spirit Lives’, a track in which Harper takes on his ‘only true enemy’: religion. It’s refreshing to hear some angry atheism in a rock world of blues-preach (note the blasphemous tongue-in-cheek ‘walking on water’ cover art by Hipgnosis). Then follows the heavy Referendum where Roy flamboyantly displays his chops in the field of folk-metal. HQ then takes a breather for the second side for some olde quaint singer-songwritery that achieves the lush, spacey hypnotism that I consider the hallmark of good folk music.

While Stormcock remains the most quietly raved about album in our music press, HQ is an overlooked delight of folk-hard-rock-prog and wacky English prose; hard beats and soft Keats with a little Guthrie mundane mysticism.

I really need to get back into the swing of writing, so forgive the feeble length of this post. Here’s the lovely nugget Forget Me Not from said album. Enjoy:

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5 thoughts on “The Old Cricketer Returns

  1. My entire knowledge of Roy Harper, I confess, consists of: A) Hats Off to (Roy) Harper by Zep and B) the fact that he sang “Have a Cigar” on Wish You Were Here. I don’t know that he had that much impact on this side of the pond. Don’t know that his style is my cup of tea but nice song there.

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