Exposé Online banner

Roy Harper — The Unknown Soldier
(Science Friction HUCD031, 1980/1999, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2000-05-01

The Unknown Soldier Cover artTypically Roy Harper doesn't fall into a progressive rock vein, preferring to create an English version of Bob Dylan's never ending hippie dream. But in 1980 he amassed several friends whose collaboration brought about a mature focused work with more complex arrangements and dynamics than any solo album performance to date. Fellow contributors included Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Kate Bush, Tony Levin (pre-Crimson, Peter Gabriel), and Dave Lawson (Greenslade). To say that the album has a distinct edge to it is an understatement considering that Gilmour co-wrote several pieces on the album including an alternate version of "Short and Sweet" from his own first solo album. Sung by Harper on this version, the piece is entirely more creditable and forceful. Also falling into the aggressive song category is "You (The Game Part II)," an ominous duet with Kate Bush. "Ten Years Ago" is driven by Tony Levin's Stick bass and describes a forlorn look upon dreams which passed unrealized from the 60s. The real scorcher on the album is the album's closer, "True Story," with Gilmour's galloping guitar segueing into the mix after a dark synth intro. Harper is at his most expressive relating the story of William Wallace (also chronicled by the movie, Braveheart) and his brutal demise. In contrast there a few ballads as well as the acoustic title track which works as a contrasting element in the overall mix of compositions. This is the first time the album has been available on CD from Harper's own label. The Unknown Soldier is an overlooked classic that will also appeal to fans of Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 19, 1999 releases, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): David Gilmour, Tony Levin, Kate Bush, Roy Harper

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bill Frisell - Unspeakable – Bill Frisell’s first Grammy winning CD is a major achievement on many fronts. Frisell doesn’t blow you away like many other experienced guitarists — he is the cardinal of understatement,...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues