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Colin Harper

Colin Harper
Colin Harper contributed regularly, as a professional writer, to the Irish News, Irish Times, The Independent, Q and Mojo, and periodically also to Folk Roots, Record Collector, The Guitar Magazine and other titles, between 1993-2001, specialising in folk music and 60s/70s rock.

His biography Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British folk and blues revival (Bloomsbury, 2000) has been widely acclaimed, being republished in revised form in both 2006 and 2012. A themed, expanded collection of journalism, Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History (Collins Press, 2004), was co-authored with blues journalist Trevor Hodgett. His writing since 2001 has tended to be for sizeable CD sleevenote histories rather than magazines, often spanning a series of releases, on neglected artists such as Quintessence, Duffy Power and Atomic Rooster.

As a musician he has been priveleged to have recorded with artists including Jan Akkerman, Brooks Williams, Martin Hayes and Bert Jansch. Since 2007 he has released three albums of his own music, including Titanium Flag (2010), an instrumental set inspired by the books The Ice Museum by Joanna Kavenna and True North: Travels In The European Arctic by Gavin Francis. Yes, a concept album. He was heavily involved in the partial reunion of Quintessence at Glastonbury 2010, 40 years after they had opened the first festival, chronicled on Rebirth (Hux, 2011); and was instrumental in - and on - the release of Tigers (Market Square, 2012), the first new Duffy Power album in 39 years.

Since January 2012 he has been working on a substantial new book project, provisionally titled Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, the Sixties and the second Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Colin Harper online

List of articles in the library by artist

Jan Akkerman

Interview by Colin Harper, The Guitar, November 1997

ALL OVER the world there are individuals trading copies of grainy videos from European television, cassettes of horrendously obscure old records by people with unpronounceable ...

Focus, Jan Akkerman: Phone Home: Jan Akkerman

Interview by Colin Harper, MOJO, July 1996

"AFTER FOCUS I MADE a record called Eli and toured Britain. The record was a success but the tour was a disaster. I did one ...

Anne Briggs, Bert Jansch: Anne Briggs: In Search of the Wild Rover

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, MOJO, March 1998

Richard Thompson wrote a song about her. Jimmy Page unplugged on her account. Singers from June Tabor to Kate Rusby revere her as the queen ...

Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Dexys Midnight Runners: Vincent Crane

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, unpublished, 2004

Author's Note: This was commissioned for Mojo but for reasons unclear to me never ran. It was during a period where a lot of writers ...

Capercaillie: West Belfast Festival

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, June 1999

THIS WAS THE Scots/Irish band's first time in Belfast in eight years, since when they've progressed from being a traditional music group to, well, something ...

John McLaughlin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis: John McLaughlin: God of Fusion

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, unpublished, 1996

Author’s note: I reviewed John’s Cork Jazz Festival gig circa January 1996, and then interviewed him in London shortly after that. Features based on the ...

The Divine Comedy: Ulster Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, December 1998

"WHAT A STRANGE looking person," said the young lady next to me as Neil Hannon arrived on the stage, to the fanfare of his conversely ...

Henry McCullough, John Fahey: John Fahey/Henry McCullough: Elmwood Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, MOJO, November 1999

McCullough set list: Medley: 'Irish Tune'/'House Of The Rising Sun' / 'Failed Christian' / 'Locked In' / 'All I Wanna Do' / 'Murder In My ...

Fairport Convention 30th Anniversary: Cropredy Festival, Oxfordshire

Review by Colin Harper, MOJO, October 1997

IF SOMEBODY back in the "summer of love" had told Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson and Judy Dyble – members of North London's premier Jefferson Airplane ...

Julie Felix

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, Record Collector, 2002

"HOW CAN WE explain the phenomenon of Julie Felix?" mused Karl Dallas, Melody Maker's titan of folk, in a December 1965 concert review. "Clearly anyone ...

Rory Gallagher: Ballad of a Thin Man

Retrospective by Colin Harper, MOJO, October 1998

"HE SUFFERED A LOT. His health was bad. He had a problem with drink. His relationships with women were all messed up because of his ...

Bert Jansch, Davey Graham: Bert Jansch and Davey Graham

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, MOJO, July 2000

NOTE: This piece was adapted and expanded, with additional material, from Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch And The British Folk & Blues Revival (Bloomsbury). It is ...

David Gray

Interview by Colin Harper, Folk Roots, March 1995

"THE REASON," says David Gray, at the end of our interview, "that journalism doesn't work most of the time is 'cos the artist isn't there ...

David Gray: David Gray Live

Review by Colin Harper, Record Collector, February 2001

DAVID GRAY BEGAN playing live around Ireland's small but discerning music pub circuit in 1993, shortly after the release of his debut album A Century ...

David Gray: An Introduction

Book Excerpt by Colin Harper, Irish Folk, Trad & Blues (Collins Press), 2004

Author's Note: There was at least one prepared but discarded chapter in my joint book with Trevor Hodgett, Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret ...

Roy Harper

Interview by Colin Harper, Independent, The, October 1998

CIRCA 1984, and during one of those latterday sojourns in the course of the once Old and Grey Whistle Test's sleepy history when it found ...

Roy Harper: The Dream Society

Review by Colin Harper, MOJO, July 1998

THE SOPHISTICATED BEGGAR, the Valentine, the Loony On The Bus... Roy Harper has worn these and other Lifemasks for more than 30 years now and ...

Roy Harper: Errigle Inn, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Independent, The, November 2000

RELEASING HIS THIRTY-SIXTH ALBUM, and still best-known to the world at large as a bloke who once sang on a Pink Floyd record ('Have A ...

Roy Harper: Vicar Street, Dublin

Live Review by Colin Harper, MOJO, January 1999

ROY ASSURES ME that it only happens in Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin. "It" being the verge-of-chaos spectator sport and crowd participation version of what would ...

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill: Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill: Cornmill Heritage Centre, Coalisland

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, August 1998

OVER THE PAST three years Hayes and Cahill have taken their remarkable, breathtakingly subtle artistry to some sizeable venues. Indeed, next year the plan is ...

Ashley Hutchings

Report and Interview by Colin Harper, Record Collector, August 2001

WITH EXPANDED REISSUES of classic albums by himself and his various bands – including Fairport Convention's Leige & Leif and his own Compleat Dancing Master ...

Andy Irvine

Interview by Colin Harper, Folk Roots, October 2000

HAVING BEEN through the music business mill several times over the past thirty-five years, with spells in such legendary and pioneering Irish music ensembles as ...

Andy Irvine: Andy Irvine: Stray Leaf Folk Club, Mullaghbane

Live Review by Colin Harper, unpublished, July 2000

MOST ROLES and occupations in life are applied for, coveted, stolen or won; with others, the job is so novel it happens by stealth.  After ...

Bert Jansch: Bert and my Book

Comment by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, September 2000

CURRENTLY HOT on the heels of Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash as an individualist icon of 20th Century music – name-dropped as an ...

Bert Jansch: The Dazzling Bert Jansch

Report and Interview by Colin Harper, Independent, The, June 2000

"MY INTEREST IN ALBUMS usually wanes around this point," says Bert Jansch, 57 this year and, for all the outward appearance of a man who ...

Bert Jansch (2000)

Interview by Colin Harper, Rock's Backpages Audio, June 2000

The folk guitar wizard talks about being the subject of biography and documentary; the revival of interest in '60s folk; his most recent recordings and his upcoming planes.

File format: mp3; file size: 21.6mb, interview length: 23' 36" sound quality: ** (phoner)

Wizz Jones

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, Record Collector, 2004

"HARD TIMES IN NEWQUAY, If You've Got Long Hair" was the endearingly absurd refrain performed by that Zelig of British acoustic music, Raymond "Wizz" Jones, ...

B.B. King: Waterfront Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, September 1999

CAREFULLY-PACED is the byword for the B.B. King show these days: he's 73, a little frail and vocally not as powerful as he once was. ...

Leo Kottke: An Interview

Interview by Colin Harper, Irish News, The, May 1998

Author's Note: I often had a chance to preview touring artists, soon to be playing in Northern Ireland, in the Irish News, a Belfast-based daily ...

Henry McCullough, Wings: Hello, Goodbye: Henry McCullough & Wings

Interview by Colin Harper, MOJO, September 1997

Author's Note: Both Trevor Hodgett and myself wrote a fair amount about local guitar legend Henry McCullough during the '90s. Indeed, Trevor still does. When ...

John McLaughlin (1996)

Interview by Colin Harper, Rock's Backpages Audio, January 1996

The fleet-fingered jazz-rocker looks back to the '60s, through his time with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, and fondly remembers his time with Miles Davis, and playing with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and more.

File format: mp3; file size: 52.3mb, interview length: 57' 09" sound quality: ***

Don McLean: Waterfront Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, October 1998

"PEOPLE ASK ME what 'American Pie' means" says Don, midway through his enviably well-attended show. "It means I don't have to work any more if ...

Mellow Candle: Swaddling Songs (DERAM SDL7)

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, unpublished, 2000

NOTE: This is a slightly longer edit of the piece as published in MOJO, sometime in the early 2000s. Since that time (in the early ...

Duffy Power: People Power: The Remarkable Retrieval of the Duffy Power BBC Sessions

Retrospective by Colin Harper, Record Collector, 2004

Author's Note: the longed-for compilation of Duffy's Parlophone singles mentioned at the end of this piece did indeed (shortly after) come to pass, in the ...

Duffy Power: Vampers and Champers (RPM)

Sleevenotes by Colin Harper, RPM, August 2006

AMONG ALL THE cases of stars who might have been, who had the magic but not the luck, the greatest is surely that of Duffy ...

Quintessence: The Spirit Is Willing

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Harper, Record Collector, May 2014

SOME BANDS struggle for years for attention, but not Quintessence. Within weeks of forming, in April 1969, they were a word-of-mouth sensation. Chris Blackwell and ...

Stereophonics: Ulster Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Irish Times, The, May 1999

DEFINING THE phrase "meat and potatoes" rock in the grand tradition of, say, Rory Gallagher in the '70s, the most remarkable thing about this young ...

Hubert Sumlin: Guinness Spot, Belfast Festival

Live Review by Colin Harper, unpublished, November 2000

HUBERT SUMLIN – best known as guitarist for the late Howlin' Wolf – is one of the bona fide legends of modern blues. At a ...

Richard Thompson: Waterfront Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Independent, The, January 1998

BELFAST'S WATERFRONT Hall embodies all the characteristics of a provincial Barbican – a kind of clinical, beige Gormenghast of a place where corridors lead to ...

Wishbone Ash: Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Independent, The, February 1998

THERE WAS A TIME, as schoolboys of certain vintage will doubtless recall, when knowing the line-up details of the more venerable British rock bands really ...

Wishbone Ash: Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Live Review by Colin Harper, Independent, The, February 1998

THERE WAS A TIME, as schoolboys of certain vintage will doubtless recall, when knowing the line-up details of the more venerable British rock bands really ...

List of genre pieces

Jukebox Heroes: An Interview With Producer Paul Pierrot

Report and Interview by Colin Harper, Record Collector, 2002

ON THE ONE HAND they welcomed all sorts of pop pioneers and future legends into the nation's living rooms… and then, on the other, they ...

The 50 Year Copyright Conundrum

Report and Interview by Colin Harper, unpublished, July 2007

IN SEPTEMBER 1959, an inmate of Mississippi State Penitentiary named James Carter led his fellows in singing a work song, 'Po' Lazarus', while chopping wood. ...

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