Once (Roy Harper album)

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Roy Harper Once Album Cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1990
RecordedHarper's home in Lincolnshire
LabelIRS Records, Awareness Records
ProducerRoy Harper
Roy Harper chronology
Loony on the Bus
Death or Glory?
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[1]

Once is the sixteenth studio album by English rock/folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper, released in 1990.[2]


David Gilmour, Kate Bush, Nick Harper and Nigel Mazlyn Jones appear on the album, with both Gilmour and Bush on the title track.[3]


The Black Cloud of Islam[edit]

The track "The Black Cloud of Islam" is a despairing castigation of radical Islam.[4]

I'm sick to the teeth of the news on the screen
Of hisbollah scum and jihad the obscene
Whose men plant the bombs and then live feeling free
To watch women and children be killed on T. V.
Which satan delivers a child a death curse
In the name of a worn out collection of verse
I've not read the book so I cannot recite
But I'd bet Salman Rushdie is just about right
Underneath the black cloud of islam.

The song provoked some criticism, to which Harper responded, in 2006, when he wrote: "I let my guard slip. I knew that I’d let it slip. I wanted it to slip. I was absolutely sick of being politically correct. I am not politically correct, I never have been..".[5] His stated reason for penning the song was his "feelings of despair" about his "worst dreams coming true" about religion gaining ground. Religion, he stated on his personal blog, was something he regarded with the "deepest possible suspicion" and now, to his horror, he could see it "about to storm the world" and "take over whole swathes of humanity"; a thought that he detested and made him "want to die on the spot".[5] In a later interview with The Daily Telegraph, the matter of this song was raised. Harper asserted that he wrote the song "as a liberal, not as a racist" and was inspired to do so by the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing.[6]


The opening verse of "Berliners" is the 4th stanza of Laurence Binyon's "Ode of Remembrance", and is preceding by a recording of a Remembrance Day ceremony where the same stanza was recited. The song also uses a BBC news broadcast describing the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Harper supported the release of the album by touring the UK. One of the concerts took place at the Dominion Theatre (a West End theatre on Tottenham Court Road in the London Borough of Camden) and was filmed. The concert took place on 22 November 1990, the same night Margaret Thatcher announced her resignation as Prime Minister which Harper referenced closing the concert by stating "...it's been a day to remember on many levels, it can only get better...if you can spoke the wheel of the present authority, then do it as quickly as possible, we need a change...". The concert film was later released as Roy Harper Once - Live.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Roy Harper

  1. "Once"
  2. "Once in the Middle of Nowhere"
  3. "Nowhere to Run to"
  4. "The Black Cloud of Islam"
  5. "If"
  6. "Winds of Change"
  7. "Berliners"
  8. "Sleeping at the Wheel"
  9. "For Longer Than it Takes"
  10. "Ghost Dance"



  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Allmusic entry for Once. Retrieved November 2009.
  3. ^ Miles, Barry; Andy Mabbett (1994). Pink Floyd the visual documentary (Updated ed.). Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-4109-2.
  4. ^ Roy Harper. "Lyrics Freak: Roy Harper: The Black Cloud of Islam". Lyricsfreak.com. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b Cloudy Days. "Roy Harper Official Site". Royharper.co.uk. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  6. ^ The Daily Telegraph. "Roy Harper: When an old cricketer returns to the crease". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 January 2015.