Big Thank You to all those who have left the great reviews and ratings. Much appreciated! Certainly gave me a boost! So glad you’ve all been enjoying the book and, hopefully playing the tracks as you read and buying the albums you haven’t got!
The title says it all. Roy saw himself as being outside of mainstream society. He used his intelligence and creativity to scrounge a living. He was and still is, the sophisticated beggar. Pierre Tubbs produced this album for Strike Records. The story is that a bunch of shady underworld characters were laundering money, and they set up Strike in order to hide their activities. Roy claimed it to be a true garage album because it was recorded in a makeshift studio, converted from a potting shed in Leatherhead. As studios go, it was a primitive setup, and the album was recorded on a basic Revox tape machine. Out came this remarkable album, which is quite unlike anything his contemporaries had produced. Nobody seems to remember exactly who played on what. No professional notes were made. The tape was left to roll, and the numbers were mainly single takes with a minimum of overdubs. The equipment wasn’t up to much and options were limited. Only one or two tracks were worked on further and added to – notably the single and the other chosen as its B-side. For the time, it is surprising and unusual that Roy didn’t want to include any of the folk/blues songs he’d been busking with. All the songs are Roy Harper originals. Also surprising is the album showing such a range of style and complexity, coupled with poetic lyrics. Roy was already experimenting, adding jazz chords and even using rock backing. His vision was much wider than most other folk artists. Not only is the album more original in content than that of his contemporaries, but it’s more ambitious and avant-garde. He knew what he wanted and was extending his musical prowess. He might have been playing folk clubs with an acoustic guitar, but this album clearly demonstrated that there was a lot more to Roy. Sophisticated Beggar has been re-released a number of times (and was illegally bootlegged by Tring Records as Legend). It also appeared as Return of the Sophisticated Beggar, with the additional track, ‘Hup Hup Spiral’: which is simply Roy saying, ‘Hup hup hup’, as the stylus moves to the disc centre and lifts.