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Roy Harper & Jimmy Page - Jugula


Roy Harper & Jimmy Page

Available from Roy Harper's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

This LP was always an enigma. Was it's title Roy Harper & Jimmy Page and under Harper's imprint or was it Jugula and under the aegis of both? This re-release does nothing to solve the mystery, save that Harper has control of it under his catalogue. When I first copped it back in the mid-80s, I was curious what the proper attribution might be and still am. It matters not a fig, given the music, but that's the way critics are: a bit anal retentive, its our gig style. For the record, though, Wikipedia claims the real title is Whatever Happened to Jugula? and line-shots the original vinyl cover showing it…yet that bit is erased in the new version. Hmmm.

Jugula seems to have been intended as a group effort, but that's always a dicey statement with Harper. Nonetheless, his son appears (16 at the time) along with David Gilmour (uncreditted and invisible, writing the music for Hope) and many mistake the lead guitar as Dave's but it ain't so. That's Roy's own progeny, a guy who has gone on to follow his own musical aspirations, appearing with Dad every so often, live and on LP. Toss in Tony Franklin, Nik Green, Steve Boughton, Ronnie Bramble, and Preston Heyman, and we have the makings of an honest-to-God ensemble.

Well into his line of releases, Jugula delivered everything expected of Harper, who e'er kept to a solid integrity of vision and performance, accounting for the bloke's longevity and place in fans' affections. It wouldn't be a mistake to find the release even moodier than its predecessors, themselves not exactly confabulations of Anita Kerr and Rod McKuen, if you get my drift. Starting with a riff on Orwell, Nineteen Forty-Eightish, when one gets to Hangman and Harper's ever-evocative lyrics:
Hangman oh hangman
You're working in the shade
For the creatures of the jungle
Whose message is displayed
In graphic tones of blood revenge
All down the civil blade
And you're the greasy little monkey
Who murders to get paid
…well, introspection and accountability are the price of admission, aren't they? The CD comes off like a concept album but isn't, not really, save for the narrative thread. Enjoy it that way if you wish, I do, but it ain't, though the maniacal end refrain to the song, "We are creatures of darkness", pretty much nails the entire flavor of the album. Dwelling in the Kafkan nightmare capitalism has produced, we Far Lefties find consolation in such dark works in the same way many refresh themselves, albeit disconsolately, in the blues. Harper was ever one of the few who dared the inner labyrinth of the human heart and mind to find Hope (a song title here) even amidst the chaos and despair. He still does, and this preservation of such a fine lineage of artworks (well over 30 releases) such as Jugula represents will, I confidently predict, one day find itself in a much wider epiphany of rediscovery, hopefully very soon.

Track List:

  • Nineteen Forty-Eightish
  • Bad Speech
  • Hope
  • Hangman
  • Elizabeth
  • Frozen Moent
  • Twentieth Century Man
  • Advertisement
All songs written by Roy Harper.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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