Science Friction's reissue of Roy Harper's 1971 cult-classic, "Stormcock", works as either a nicely packaged reminder of an often sorely overlooked record or an excellent introduction to it. Not to say that Harper's fan base is lacking, but his contemporaries – Bert Jansch, Nick Drake or Richard Thompson for example – often overshadow his still active career. Harper has the same songwriting/performing knack as Dylan or Van Morrison – somewhere between folk storytelling and blue-eyed soul improvising – but Harper revolved around a scene more influenced by the increasingly slick psych of Pink Floyd. It repeatedly skims fantasy-obsessed hippie-folk territory, coming close, but never quite giving way to wizardry cheese. Give credit to the Abbey Road aesthetic or perhaps even the impressively subdued production from Alan Parsons (in this case) that keeps the album from slipping away into spiraling Technicolor.
There are elements of "Stormcock" that still echo in bands purveying a similar sound today. The psych-folk breakdown that concludes "The Same Old Rock" is mimicked – however unintentionally – by seemingly every faintly-psychedelic or faintly-classic rock band in the indie scene. It's no surprise then that the guest soloing guitarist on the track was S. Flavius Mercurius… ahem, Jimmy Page. (Longtime friends, Page was returning the favor for Harper's contribution to the Zeppelin cut "Hats Off to Harper.") Just count it as yet one more way that Page has shaped popular rock music as we know it.
For the most part, the album's four wandering tracks represent a vibe similar to fellow British singer/songwriter Bert Jansch, though the horn and string arrangements of "Me and My Woman" is a quick reminder that Harper spent as much time in the studio as he did the coffeehouse. "Stormcock" feels like an important record if only as a high watermark in this balance. It appeals to most any fan of very early 70s rock, whether your concentration is more on psych, folk or the good ol' classic kind. It should appeal to most any music fan really. 9/10 -- Michael Ardaiolo (26 November, 2008)