Vermilion Sands

posted: 2024-02-14 ValentineRoy Harper

released: 1974-02-14
on label: Harvest
artist: Roy Harper
listen at: Spotify

Valentine, released on that day in 1974, is a collection of tracks that Roy Harper recorded during the early ’70s but did not include on either Stormcock or Lifemask. The fact that this album somehow gels is testimony to just how talented Harper was at this point in his career. All Harper albums have stellar cameos, and this one is no different. Jimmy Page adds devastating lead guitar to “Male Chauvinist Pig Blues,” even though the acoustic version the duo released on Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion is still superior.

In addition, David Bedford continues his streak of outstanding string arrangements on Harper albums with particularly winning versions for “I’ll See You Again” and “Commune.” The instrumental “Che” is a reminder of Harper’s astounding and influential acoustic guitar technique, while “Twelve Hours of Sunset” rivals “Waterloo Sunset” as one of most beautiful songs in the English language. Like most Harper releases, this one has a few weak songs, especially the jazz throwaway “Acapulco Gold,” but even the extra tracks from Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion, included on the CD reissues, seem to fit in. While not as high-profile as Stormcock or HQ, Valentine can be numbered among Harper’s best work during his heyday.