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

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nukli - The Time Factory – Nukli are a psych-rock band who have a fairly long history peppered with only a few, rare releases. Having spent a good part of the 80s gigging in England on the festival scene with the likes of the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues