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The Passions Of Great Fortune (Lyric Book) Zoom

The Passions Of Great Fortune (Lyric Book)

The Passions Of Great Fortune. Roy Harper The Songs Explored. Lyrics and commentary by Roy Harper. 320 pages, Full colour, Hardback. Over 250 photos and other illustrations. Designed by Science Friction Cover design by Harry Pearce Cover photo by Richard Imrie Release Date: Sept 14th, 2003 Publisher: Science Friction Ltd. ISBN: 0-9545264-0-6

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Science Friction

Product Description


The Passions Of Great Fortune
Roy Harper The Songs Explored
Lyrics and commentary by Roy Harper

Release Date: Sept 14th, 2003
Publisher: Science Friction Ltd.
ISBN: 0-9545264-0-6

320 pages, Full colour, Hardback
Over 250 photos and other illustrations

Designed by Science Friction
Cover design by Harry Pearce
Cover photo by Richard Imrie

Book jacket notes:

Roy Harper has amassed more than thirty albums of original material in his recording career. He has many credits, including recording with members of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and with Kate Bush, among others. He performed at the legendary first Hyde Park Free Concert and was one of the leading lights, along with Bert Jansch, Paul Simon and Davy Graham, of the London Folk Scene of the mid-Sixties. Roy made eight records in the EMI studios at Abbey Road, five of which were top twenty in the UK music charts. He has also won European awards for his music. He is a social commentator and story-teller who has swum against the tide more times than not, and continues to be active in performance. He has lived in Ireland since 1989.

In this book, Roy Harper attempts to conduct you through his songs and their meanings. Within are contained the lyrics to over two hundred songs with varying lengths of prose commentaries on them. His intention is to let the reader into the mysteries of what happens between the inspiration and the finished song, and often to provide a subsequent reappraisal of how particular songs have worked or not.

The book is populated by many of the subjects of the songs, from superstars to one-night stands, from the lonely young boy who walked out into the world at the age of fifteen to a lifetime of relationships and children. Many of the photos in the book were taken by Roy and display a lively sense of humour, an erotic inclination and a need to present the world in the way he sees it. He has always been compelled to do something other than the expected, and this book is a testament to that kind of an approach to his art.

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Additional Information

Manufacturer Science Friction
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Classic Rock Review - 2004Review by Hugh Fielder
The Passions Of Great Fortune – The Songs Explored

After a lifetime spent journalists and sometimes even audiences (who can forget him calling the crowd at Pink Floyd’s Knebworth Festival in 1975 “a bunch of cunts”?) Roy Harper has finally decided to explain himself.

This hefty hardback book contains the lyrics to over 200 songs, along with his comments. There are also relevant photos, generally by Roy, to illustrate the muse: a landscape, a bird’s nest, a portrait of the artist (occasionally in the company of Jimmy Page, often in the company of his son Nick), or one of the many women who have inspired Harper over the years.

Despite numerous emotional epheavals over the last 40 years that have affected the momentum of his career – although he has released over 30 albums – there’s a steadfast consistency running through his lyrics. And his wilful refusal to compromise is softened by a delicacy with words and a rare sense of humour.

-Hugh Fielder (Posted on 22/06/2015)
MOJO Review - 2004Review by Colin Harper
Roy Harper The Passions Of Great Fortune

The King of contrarydom puts his money where his mouth has been: 37 years of lyrical mischief explained.

Anyone familiar with the essays of French minimalist eccentric Erik Satie will recognise at once a kindred spirit in Roy Harper. The swings between profundity and absurdity, the beauty of simple melody against an often curiously unsettling quality in delivery are common to each. Yet Satie, insofar as one can say, never went to China in search of a competitive printing deal for the most sumptuously presented self-published epitaph in musical history. Packed with wonderful atmospheric photos of Roy, his family, friends, (Floyd, Zeppelin et al) and various artfully naked musses, his every recorded lyric is accompanied by poignant, strident or tangentially amusing commentary – be it one line or a thousand words. Never dull, if your own Roy’s records this is essential stuff; if you don’t, it will intrigue to the point of investment. “My work has generated a certain amount of confusion,” notes Roy, on page 118. “I hope this book can help to clear this up a little.”

–Colin Harper (Posted on 22/06/2015)
Uncut Review - February 2004Review by David Stubbs
Harper’s Bizarre

Part lyrical study, part autobiography and part photo album from one of England’s unsung finest.

ROY HARPER IS A SQUARE peg for round holes, a round peg for square ones. He scrambled from the ‘60s folk scene like a troubadour from another time zone, displaying a propensity for occasional bouts of Arthurian mysticism – and for cavorting nude. He’s as much part of Glastonbury’s fixtures and fittings as the stick-whittlers and jugglers. You might therefore take him for the sort of flaxen-haired, hippie-dippy creature punk sought to rid the world of for good.

Yet there’s a scathing, unabated anger about Harper that’s punker than punk, that indeed has outlasted punk, be it on early offerings like “I Hate The White Man” or even very recent offerings like 2001’s anit-Blair tirade “The Monster”. His voice is raw and impassioned, sometimes tender, sometimes scourging, while his acoustic settings, often abetted by luxurious string arrangements, studio effects and electric guitars, tumble and cascade with the beauty and ferocity of waterfalls.

It’s his sheer bloody awkwardness, the very factor that has denied him a wider audience, that makes him mandatory listening for everybody and anybody. This handsome volume is his own attempt to provide a definitive guide to his life’s work, obsessions and psyche.

A traumatic upbringing, first at the hands of a Jehovah’s Witness stepmother and then when he quit home to join the RAF, has left Harper with an indelible loathing of all forms of authority and all religious belief, the latter expressed uncompromisingly and to the discomfort of some on “The Black Cloud Of Islam” in particular.

Although the text here reveals a self-depricating soul who loves life and takes his pleasures where he can, it also reveals a burning rage against the world and all its malign, overarching imperial structures. Hence ‘60s songs like “McGoohan’s Blues” through to the lengthy “The Lord’s Prayer” on 1973’s Lifemask – wonderfully doomed solo attempts to put the world to rights and tilt at every windmill going.

His intro to this volume, in which he foresees the extinction of mankind as our lives become ecologically unsustainable but dismisses our demise as an irrelevancy in nature’s scheme of things, suggest that he remains the world’s oldest angry young man. Yet this book attests also to songs like “When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease”, a tender masterpiece which reflects profoundly and humanely on the sunset of all our lives.

Although pricey, this excellent collection should act not just as a trove for Harper diehards but as an appetising introduction to newcomers, too.

–David Stubbs (Posted on 22/06/2015)
Record Collector Review - February 2004Review by Kinglsey Abbot

This sumptuous self-published hardback includes approximately 200 of Roy Harper's song lyrics alongside photos and artwork, with the personal nature of the imagery allowing a seamless marriage with the text. the collection illuminates Harper's songs from all stages of his career, including his contacts with Jimmy Page, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Roy's often indirect lyrics are given background and discussion pointers with notes of varying length, and the journey is enhanced with visuals varying from beautiful nature shots to sheer eroticism. His target is to engage us and seduce us into consideration and questioning the song's messages.

Harper's core following will treasure this wonderfully designed book, but it is accessible far beyond that key audience. Thoroughly recommended, and worth every penny of its cover price.

Roy harps on ...

Who is the book aimed at – converted followers or newcomers to your work?

A mix of those. Halfway through doing it I thought it was one of the most arcane autobiographies ever written! Since 1980, I've felt the need to make things more, I hate to say it, obvious. I don't want to put things on a plate – with writing what is virtually poetry there is a licence not to be precise. I paint pictures with words. This is compendium of Roy.

I am who I am emotionally. Everyday experience is involved with everything in the book. I get very sceptical these days with politicians and businesses. There is a great need to look at the big picture of humanity. In the late 40s, humanity was grateful to be out of the war, but there was a period of austerity. Those were inward-looking times. The 50s started people on a more ‘fantastic’ road towards nowadays, when we are all involved on a ‘virtual’ road where even martyrdom is a form of stardom. But what is this doing to humanity . . . to our children?

You say that people need simple messages, but that you are suspicious of them.

That’s my way – I'm different to Woody guthrie. I grew tired of bland, simple messages like ‘We Shall Overcome’ – what does that mean? Who’s ‘We’? What does ‘overcome’ actually mean? Once you start to question everything you say you’re never the same again. Simple messages aren’t real, they’re just soundbites.

Is this book an end point?

No. I’m constantly shifting sand. I’m a sandbank. If I could live to 1000, not that I'd want to, ID continue to produce things. I have to be a genuine voice. If my way of doing things was threatened, ID have to move to continue. The day I collect a pension won ’t matter at all – it will still be business as usual.

–Kingsley Abbott (Posted on 22/06/2015)

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