Search - Roy Harper :: Unknown Soldier

Unknown Soldier
Roy Harper
Unknown Soldier
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Reissue of 1980 Harvest album from British folk artist. Featuring a duet with Kate Bush and an appearance by Dave Gilmour on two tracks. 1999.


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CD Details

All Artists: Roy Harper
Title: Unknown Soldier
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Science Friction
Original Release Date: 1/1/1980
Re-Release Date: 6/12/2001
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriters, Blues Rock, Folk Rock, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 679076770317, 766485721822


Album Description
Reissue of 1980 Harvest album from British folk artist. Featuring a duet with Kate Bush and an appearance by Dave Gilmour on two tracks. 1999.

CD Reviews

Solid, but not one of his many classics
Elliot Knapp | Seattle, Washington United States | 05/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Unknown Soldier was Roy's last album for EMI, for better or worse (according to Roy, it was for worse at the time, but the years have proven that his artistic integrity survived the 80's and his split from major labels intact), and it marks the end of a period in which Roy had access to the label's money, the newest technology, studio luxuries, and production elements like string sections. As a result, the album is chock full of these things, but overall isn't as classic as Roy's earlier Harvest records due to the mixed quality of some of the songs. The Unknown Soldier is by no means a good place to start for someone interested in Roy Harper's often dazzling songwriting and musicianship, but if you're already a fan, I think you'll find the album worthwhile for the highlights.

"Playing Games," as one other review noted, is a good example of everything that is sub-standard about parts of the album. Production is unnecessary and over the top, with a lot of synthesizers and instruments that don't add to the force of the song, and lyrics that lack Roy's usual depth and meaning. "I'm In Love With You" is a bit better, but more facile than Harper's usual complex love songs, and part of the melody seems lifted from Bullinamingvase's (his previous album's) "These Last Days." "The Fly Catcher" is one of the album's classics, a smoldering love song that actually lives up to Harper's reputation, though it may have been stronger with a simpler arrangement. "You (The Game Part II)" is strong, with help from David Gilmour and Kate Bush (though I'm not really a fan of Roy's collaborations with female vocalists, it's a strong song).

The second half of the album is a bit stronger, in my opinion, since the songs that are overproduced are more experimental, which is actually enhanced by the production. "Old Faces" combines a pastoral lyric with an alien-sounding melody (and effects). "Short and Sweet" is better here than on David Gilmour's solo album, maybe because Roy wrote the lyrics, and maybe also because the arrangement is crisper here, and the orchestra (though unnecessary) is pretty cool. "First Thing In the Morning," despite its synthesizer-soaked introduction, is actually a pretty rocking dip into 80's pop-rock with an excellent lyric that foreshadows Roy's future opus, "Work of Heart." The title track is priceless, and worth all of the album's mediocre moments--acoustic, finally, with a heartfelt, burning lyric. "Ten Years Ago" is a good song, again marred by production, and the closer is a bizarre collaboration with David Gilmour (he was obviously really into the delay guitar pedal at this time--sounds just like most of the riffs from Pink Floyd's The Wall). Although it's not a strong song, "True Story" is actually buoyed by the lush production and Gilmour's hard guitar sound.

Overall, The Unknown Soldier is a strange beast--at times the production mars self-sufficient songs, and at other times the sonic experimentation sounds better than the songs that support it. The Unknown Soldier can be a very enjoyable listen, once you get into it and accept that it's not an all-out Roy Harper classic, like so many of his earlier records. Realistically, the album marks the beginning of a period in Harper's career that had its shining moments, but lacked any obvious classic albums, which would last until the marvelous Once, which brought in a late period of astounding quality that has lasted (more or less) to the present."
Some of Roy's best reviews, not Roy's best
jggm | Belair, Maryland | 10/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In 1993, when I was only 11, I found o copy of 'Folkjokeopus' in a box of records from a yard sale. I have been a fan of Roy Harper ever since. While not devoid of standout tunes like 'The Unknown Soldier', 'The Fly Catcher', 'Short and Sweet (co-written with Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour- the song turned up prior to this on Gilmour's first eponymous solo album in 1978)', 'Old Faces' & 'Ten Years Ago', parts of this album have become dated by the use of 80's synths. Yes, it got Roy some of his best reviews (not to mention much-deserved record sales), yet it can't compare with the superlative 'HQ', 'Lifemask' and 'Stormcock'. It is still an excellent album (well worthy of 4 stars), though I'm more of a fan of Roy without the aid of studio trickery. Because, quite simply, he is a genius who doesn't need it. Indeed, Harper himself lists the 80's as a low period (as many an artist has done). Still, well worth a listen."
Might be 4 or 5 stars for anyone else . . .
sephus | San Francisco, CA | 09/25/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"... but I expect more from Roy. This album has moments that absolutely soar, especially "You (The Game Part II)," which is so hauntingly beautiful (with a superlative assist from Kate Bush) that it makes up for the low points. Unfortunately, for me the first track "Playing Games" is the bottom of the barrel, and too many others, such as "Ten Years Ago," follow in the same vein. Better to get this one AFTER you become a Harper convert, that is, after getting Stormcock, Valentine, Flashes From The Archives of Oblivion, Bullinamingvase, and his latest two, The Dream Society and Green Man."