Saturday, 2 June 2018

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - The Best Years Of Our Lives (1975)

  

Released March 1975

Recorded at Air Studios, London

1975 saw "The Best Years Of Our Lives" be the album that briefly saw the (now named) Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel crack the commercial mainstream with a number one single in the catchy "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)" and a mid chart hit in "Mr. Raffles". The album was a good one. The electric violin that so dominated the first two albums had gone, as had half the original band. A new band in place saw a slightly more polished, pop sensitive sound with those two singles and tracks like "Mad, Mad Moonlight" and "Panorama". The old Harley poetic weirdness was there, however, in "Back To The Farm" and "It Wasn't Me" - incomprehensible lyrics and imagery. Then there was a rival for "Tumbling Down" as a Cockney Rebel singalong live anthem in "The Best Years Of Our Lives".

The album has been remastered perfectly. It will never sound better than this.

The live cuts from April 1975 at Hammersmith Odeon are not perfect, sonically, certainly not a patch on 1977’s live “Face To Face”,(Harley makes “The Best Years” into a drug-addled mess) but neither are they bad and they provide a welcome slice of previously unavailable live material from the brief era of "Rebelmania". 

The 14 minute "medley" of "Bed In The Corner/SweetDreams/Psychomodo/Sling It!/Instrumental doodling" see Harley at his preposterous vocal delivery/twisted vowels best. Great stuff. Harley seems pretty wired throughout, high on his own success and God knows what, a feeling confirmed with the DVD live clips that are, of their time, shall we say. Quite amusing are the brief interviews with fans at the gig. "He's better than Bowie". Well, maybe for that one evening in April 1975 he just was.

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