The Unknown Soldier (album)

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The Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier.JPG
Studio album by Roy Harper
Released 1980 (1980)
Recorded Abbey Road Studios, London; Rockfield Studios, Monmouthshire, Wales; House of Music, Orange, New Jersey; Studio Aquarium, Paris; Chapel Lane Studios, Hereford[1]
Genre Rock
Label Harvest SHVL 820,
Science Friction HUCD031
Producer Roy Harper, Peter Jenner
Roy Harper chronology
The Unknown Soldier
Work of Heart
Alternative cover
Cover for German (Electrola) release
Cover for German (Electrola) release
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[2]

The Unknown Soldier is the tenth studio album by English folk / rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Roy Harper. It was first released in 1980 by Harvest Records and was his last release on the label.[3]


The album was originally released on EMI's Harvest Records label (SHVL820) in 1980 (also Harvest ST6474 (CAN) and Electrola 1C06407259 (FRG)). In 1998 the album was reissued on Harpers Science Friction label (HUCD031).

Whilst duets are not commonplace on Roy Harper albums, Kate Bush accompanies Harper on the song "You". The song "Short and Sweet" features David Gilmour on guitar and is also found on Gilmour's first solo album, David Gilmour, released two years earlier. In fact, Gilmour plays guitar on most of the songs and co-wrote five of the album's ten songs. Harper providing the lyrics and Gilmour the music.[4]

Originally, the songs "I'm in Love with You", "Ten Years Ago" and "The Flycatcher", were to be released on an earlier (1977) Harper album, Commercial Breaks. However, a dispute between Harper and EMI meant Commercial Breaks was not released until 1994. These three songs were re-recorded for The Unknown Soldier, and vary slightly from their original composition.

Perhaps the most remarkable moment in...the making of this record was the trip... to the battlefield at Verdun in France to take the pictures for the sleeve...disembarking at Boulogne in an undrivable hired Rover with an arse-end three miles in the air and a steering wheel on the wrong side. We hurtled down France for half a the end of which we walked, stoned and soaked, into a Pension and I asked for a room for the night in my schoolboy French. "Avez vous une chambre ce soir.... etc." And a lizard woman looked us up and down... What we saw the following day brought me to tears... A sea of graves, surmounted by a monument the like of which I'd never seen anywhere. In style, it is pure Art Deco, in deference it is Egyptian, and in effect it is devastating. And it is full of the bones of hundreds of thousands of men; visible through the windows of the basement around the building. We took the pictures, even though it seemed like a sacrilege. And isn't that the nature of our beast..? I can't remember the journey home, except for its silence. Roy Harper.[3]

Track listing

All tracks credited to Roy Harper except where indicated

Side one

  1. "Playing Games" (Harper, David Gilmour) – 3:12
  2. "I'm In Love With You" – 3:45
  3. "The Flycatcher" – 4:10
  4. "You" (The Game Part II) (Harper, Gilmour) – 4:37
  5. "Old Faces" (Harper, Gilmour) – 4:09

Side two

  1. "Short and Sweet" (Harper, Gilmour) – 6:28
  2. "First Thing in the Morning" – 3:40
  3. "The Unknown Soldier" – 3:33
  4. "Ten Years Ago" – 3:35
  5. "True Story" (Harper, Gilmour) – 3:50



  1. ^
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ a b Roy Harper official site Archived 2006-10-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Interview Archived 2006-10-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Dave Lawson's portfolio

External links

  • Roy Harper Official Site
  • Excellent Roy Harper resource
  • Roy Harper fan site
  • Verdun Memorial Website
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