In 1971 Roy Harper unleashed the mighty Stormcock album. It’s still probably his best. The Mancunian singer-songwriter was primarily known as a folkie at that point, but the four lengthy tracks on this LP pretty much established a new genre of acoustic prog. “The Same Old Rock” closed side two of the old vinyl album. It’s a twelve minute acoustic railing against organised religion – and how each claims to be the true way whilst merely offering a slightly different take on the same tired old ideas. There is a subtle poetry in the lyric that avoids hammering the message home – something that Harper hasn’t always resisted.
Even so, it would seem hard to sustain interest in a track for a dozen minutes when its instrumentation is solely comprised of acoustic guitars, no matter how good the words. Not in this case, it’s not. There is a sophistication in the music that is far beyond the grasp of most of the legion of acoustic troubadors that always seem to be with us. At times the playing is as breathtaking as Davey Graham at his best. The piece culminates in what can only be described as a guitar duel between Harper and Jimmy Page that is truly mind-blowing (hey, it was 1971). “The Same Old Rock” and its parent album haven’t dated a day in 36 years. A truly original masterpiece.