Harper and Rowe


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Jack Klaeysen -- vocals, guitar

- Ralph Murphy (RIP 2019) -- vocals, guitar

 

 

- The Guardsmen (Jack Klaeysen and Ralph Murphy)

- The High Windows (Raffi Murphy)

- The Slade Brothers (Jack Klaeysen and Ralph Murphy)

- Ralph Murphy (solo efforts)

- Smokey Circles (Ralph Murphy)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Harper and Row

Company: World Pacific

Catalog: WPS 21882
Year:
 1968

Country/State: Saffron, Walden UK

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: gatefold sleeve; still sealed

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00

 

For a duo that few folks knew during their existent and even fewer recall today, there's a surprising amount of online information available on Harper and Rowe (though much of it is wrong).  Who knows where the name came from, but Harper and Rowe reflected the talents of singer/guitarists Jack Klaeysen and Ralph Murphy.

 

Born in the UK but raised in Canada, Murphy was living in Wallaceburg, Ontario when he met Jack Klaeysen.  Discovering a common interest in music, they started out as a pair of folkies. Discovering The Beatles, by 1965 they'd relocated to Liverpool where they found work playing on the city's club scene.  Not sure if it's true, but traveling to the UK via ship, they met Joe Collins' brother.  The brother was impressed with their on-ship performances and offered to introduce them to his brother and talent agent Joe Collins.  Collins subsequently sign them to his talent roster. Told that London was the place to be seen, they moved again.  They began scoring gigs at clubs like the New Oxford Theatre and then opening for touring bands such as The Byrds, The Ivy Leagues and The Pretty Things.  The resulting publicity attracted the attention of Tony Hatch who signed them to his Pye Records label.  They recorded some folk-oriented demos under the name The Guardsmen before being rebranded as The Slade Brothers.  Under that guise the duo released a series of four singles over the next two years.  Only one, their final 45, saw a US release.

- 1965's 'Don't You Cry Over Me' b/w 'Don't Be Gone Too Long' (Pye catalog number 7N 15966)

- 1966's 'Love and Comfort' b/w 'Clearly I See' (Pye catalog number 7N 15966)

- 1966's 'Peace In My Mind' b/w 'Life's Great Race' (Pye catalog number 7N 15980)

- 1966's 'What a Crazy Life' b/w 'For a Rainy Day' (Kapp catalog number K-803)

 

Adopting another identity as "Harper and Rowe" in 1967 the pair were signed by Pacific World Records.  Co-produced by Ed Ver Schure and Murphy, 1968's "Harper and Rowe" featured a mixture Murphy-penned originals and obscure covers (Colours 'Where Is She' and The Roosters 'Love Machine'). Unlike their earlier Slade Brothers catalog, 'The Dweller', 'You And Me (Me And You)' and the single 'Keep On Dancing' found them actively pursuing changing audience tastes.  All but abandoning their folk roots, the album featured a highly commercial brand of radio-ready pop. On performances like 'Here Comes Yesterday Again', 'Strange How People Change' and 'Picture Me High' the pair even added a mildly psychedelic feel to the arrangements.  Murphy handled most of the lead vocals, but both men had nice voices and those voices blended well together.  Check out the soul-jazz influenced performance on 'The Dweller'.  The biggest problems with the album were occasional slides into bland pop (Good Times, and Times' and the country-tinged 'Hold Me'); the absence of a killer single and arranger Cy Payne's heavy orchestration which frequently overwhelmed the performances.  In spite of those criticisms it was a pleasant album serving as a nice mid-'60s pop timepiece.

 

 

"Harper and Rowe" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Here Comes Yesterday Again (Ralph Murphy) - 2:32 rating: *** stars

'Here Comes Yesterday Again' was an odd mash-up of orchestrated commercial pop, hippy lifestyle statement and light psych influences. Klaeysen and Murphy's voices meshed well, though Cy Payne's heavy orchestration threatened to sweep them out to sea.  Still, I guess I can see why it was tapped as a single given it was commercial and "safe":  (The Manchester, UK based blue-eyed soul band Life 'n Soul' also released the track as a single.)

- 1968's 'Here Comes Yesterday Again' b/w 'Wake Me When It's Over' (World Pacific catalog number 77902)

2.) The Dweller (Jerry Marcellino - Mel Larson) - 3:05  rating: **** stars

With a breezy "soul-jazz" vibe and a cool bass line, 'The Dweller' featured Klaeysen and Murphy trading lead vocals and blending their voices on the chorus.  Musically the track reminded me of a cross between Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 and The 5th Dimension trying to trot out their cool, counterculture credentials.  Ultimately the song was about as counterculture as one of those Peter Max 7-Up advertising posters.  But then I love Peter Max 7-Up advertising !!!

 

 

 

 

3.) Picture Me High (Ralph Murphy) - 2:28  rating: **** stars

Well these guys seem to have had a consistent theme in their minds ...  'Picture Me High' found them toughening up their sound a little.  It was still orchestrated pop with a Tom Jones / Mark Lindsey and the Raiders sound, but with a winking nod to cool people. I think Klaeysen may have handled lead vocals on this one - there was kind of a Righteous Brothers feel to his voice.  This one was released as their third and final single:

 

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Picture Me High (Picture Me Low) b/w 'Where Is She' (World Pacific catalog number 77917)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Where Is She (Gary Montgomery - Jack Dalton) - 2:29 rating: *** stars

I knew this song from the 1968 "Colours" LP.  A sweet ballad with the paid sharing lead vocals, their cover lost a bit of the original's Paul McCartney sheen, but remained quite commercial.  

5.) You And Me (Me And You) (Bodie Chandler - Ed McKendry) - 2:49  rating: *** stars

Opening up with a bouncy bass line, 'You And Me (Me And You)' sounded like a male sung Spanky and Our Gang pop tune.  Very "love generation" feeling going on and the lyrics even included the word "groovy".   The electric guitar solo was a nice surprise.

6.) Love Machine (James A. Griffin - Michael Z. Gordon) - 2:16 rating: **** stars

The L.A. based The Roosters originally recorded 'Love Machine' releasing it as a 1967 single.  The  Harper and Rowe remake isn't a drastic change from the original - a bit slicker.  It's a fantastic, driving slice of pop with some hysterical lyrics. Hard to imagine why it was released as a single.  By the way, yes, the co-writer was James Griffin of Bread fame.

 

(side 2)
1.)
Keep On Dancing (Ralph Murphy) - 2:11  rating: **** stars

Ever seen one of those '60s psychsploitation movies with a lysergic-drenched disco scene; pretty girls dancing in go-go cages and a light show too boot?  This was the perfect song for one of those scenes.  Imagine The Righteous Brothers deciding they want to hang out with the cool people ...  I can actually imagine folks dancing to this one.  LOL


- 1968's 'Keep On Dancing' b/w 'On the Rooftop' (White Whale catalog number WW 258)

2.) Good Times, Bad Times (Ralph Murphy) - 2:05 rating: ** stars

'Good Times, Bad Times' pushed the duo into the pool of saccharine pop.  This wasn't even bubblegum pop, rather was an insurance commercial waiting to happen.  Yech.

3.) Strange How People Change (Ralph Murphy) - 2:52 rating: *** stars

The opening cellos added a slightly ominous feel to the ballad 'Strange How People Change'.  Unfortunately this was another one where Cy Payne's MOR orchestration overwhelmed the sound.

4.) Hold Me (Ralph Murphy) - 3:24 rating: ** stars

Sporting the album's prettiest ballad, and a nice keyboard solo, the ballad 'Hold Me' unfortunately sported the most irritating vocal. Not sure it Murphy was trying to imitate a country accent on this one.

5.) Wake Me When Itís Over (Ralph Murphy) - 2:29  rating: *** stars

'Wake Me When It's Over' sounded like a second tier band trying to copy a bad Beach Boys song.  I liked the chirpy refrain and the weird guitar effects.

6.) Hello Sleepy Sidewalk (Ralph Murphy) - 2:11 rating: *** stars

Opening up with a splash of Flamenco guitar, 'Hold Me' exploded with a giddy refrain but was otherwise only marginally entertaining.

 

 

Following release of the album the pair called it quits.  Murphy briefly recorded with the Israeli pop group The High Windows.  He translated their Hebrew lyrics into English and under the name "Raffi Murphy" briefly replaced one of the band members.  (You can't make something like that up.) That was followed by an album with the band Smokey Circles.  He then headed to New York City where he continued writing and turned to production.  

 

 

In the late-'70s he moved to Nashville setting up a publishing company with longtime business partner Roger Cook. Murphy saw a wide array of country acts record his material including Crystal Gayle, Little Texas, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis.

 

Only 75, suffering from cancer and having contracted pneumonia, Murphy passed on in May 2019

 

 

 

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