Roy Harper

Live at Les Cousins

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This tape sat in the vaults for years before it was officially released in 1996. The fact that it is so revelatory makes its unearthing all the more rewarding. This is the almost complete gig from an August of 1969 show that finds Roy Harper coming out of his Jansch-inspired, neo-Dylan period into his more progressive, acoustic one. At this stage, Harper had a flawless falsetto, which complemented his ever-increasing guitar acumen quite nicely. Both are put to good use on an early (and much faster) prototype for "Hors D'Oeuvres," a song which eventually showed up on 1971's Stormcock. Perhaps the best song is "McGoohan's Blues," a 19-minute epic which lacks the clumsy band arrangement that marred the album version. Harper and crowd seem in a mood (and mindset) typical for the period, and he even mentions that a certain James Page (whom he recently met) had shown an interest in learning his instrumental, "Blackpool." Harper then plays a seemingly perfect version of the song to restrained applause, only to chastise himself for mucking it up. This release shows Harper to be as talented as anyone from that period. It should be regarded as his only essential release, save possibly for his debut, from that era.