Cockney Rebel - The Human Menagerie - The Raw Version (1973)
This is an unexpected surprise to hear this great album that is The Human Menagerie in its demo raw version. What's extraordinary is that the songs (not in the final order, an order that seems to have been wished by the band judging by the notes on the tape boxes, a rather bad order actually, with desequilibrated sides, a first one full of sad and slow tempo songs, and a second full of rocker) gain a contempory dimension when they lose the grandeur the wonderful orchestration of Andrew Powell gave them. On some songs, I have the impression to listen to the incunabulum of Felt/Denim or some bands from the Cherry Red label in the eighties. Moreover, there's a trad. English folk flavour in the songs due to the acoustic guitar and violin duo (don't forget the superior beat of Stuart Elliott, one of my all-time fave drummer). These versions were unburied on the 4-CD boxset released this autumn and I can only encourage you to buy it, first because neither an MP3 will provide the quality of a CD or vinyl, and second because there is much more to discover on this boxset. I added "Judy Teen" on the album although it was actually not intended to be on it, but I think it would have been too cruel to deprive the visitor of this unreleased song that was recorded during the same sessions (I suppose, since the dates of these demo sessions are not written on the liner notes, whereas the date of the "Judy Teen" one, March 1973, is). Last, I often wonder how critics can be so blind and deaf on Cockney Rebel case, since the birth of the band until today. For example in Uncut, although the boxset received a 8/10, the condescension, the disregard for the band is shocking. Why always cite Dylan, Bowie, Lou Reed and Roxy Music? Of course they were influences, but what is the fuck when the result was so great and so singular (singular band as the title of the song). Who noticed the folk influence? The Felt legacy? And Ray Davies, who was more an influence to my ears that all the supposed ones cited. No, they are only repeating again and again that the band was plagiarists of the 4 aboves. Even these influences were influenced (just listen how Dylan was a Woody Guthrie imitator in his youth) but propose something entirely new. To compare the metaphysical and symphonic "Death Trip" to the drug-focused and rock "Heroin" is a total nonsense but Jim Wirth from Uncut did it. You'll read more interesting things on the band here althought I don't agree with all. But let's forget it and enjoy here this piece of genius here. I created a cover sleeve cos' I like that. Not fantastic but honest I think.