Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Singles As & Bs (1975-76)

I begin to re-up all Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel stuff. Here's the first. Tomorrow more. All about this splendid compilation below. I got no time to improve the sound and match the volume level. Sorry. Catch it here.

After disbanding the first version of Cockney Rebel (actually it is said that it is the rest of the band that decided to quit but I wonder why they would have fired their singer and main composer), Steve Harley kept the name of the band but added his name on the frontside, maybe in case he would have to pursue on his own (that will be the case). Looking back, it was not fair to keep the name since the new formation had not the glam charisma of the previous one to say the least, but were competent and sometimes brilliant players. The main change was in the Steve Harley's singwriting, much more Dylan-influenced and much less Bowie-influenced than before. The chance was that the first single the band released was an international hit, covered by many and many, from Suzi Quatro to the Wedding Present, of course you know I talk about "Make Me Smile". When it was issued, it was for me a severe deception, too mainstream, not decadent and precious enough for me. I thought it was an accident but it would be the new Harley's style for the next 2 years. However, the band released good albums and if none would reach the altitudes of Psychomodo, the Love's A Prima Donna one is a kind of masterpiece, an essential LP to get and listen to. Here, I gathered the 7 singles that this formation released during his lifetime, i.e., 14 songs and among them some never released on any CD support. Some of these rarities are excellent (such as "Throw Your Soul Down There" or "Lay me Down") and it is a shame EMI never felt the interest to release a complete Steve Harley single As & Bs compilation (from this and previous formation) that would be a hell of album. Instead, you got the eternal uneven compilations of songs that are supposed to give an insight of the band. I conceived the sleeve from the Love's A Prima Donna back sleeve, a very strange picture that represents quite well the lyrical world of Steve Harley in these years. He then will turn in a still much more mainstream musical field and this man is one of my great deception from the seventies (Alex Harvey is dead and Peter Hammill still going on). Sorry but the sound level is different between songs since some are ripped from my vinyls, other from my CDs, and other from various blog sources. I am not competent enough to match the sound level but one time I'll be, I'm sure.

Below I chose (with difficulty) 2 songs for streaming: "Black or White" a commercial miss that should have been a hit to my ears although the grandiloquence of the orchestration may not be everybody's taste, and the "Love's a Prima Donna" eponymous song that is as catchy than it was at the time.
Black or White. Behind the wall the ears of love are listening. Behind the door they kneel. Behind the boy from whom we steal. Behind the dark, deserted halls of memory. Inside the sound oy oy, we have just landed for employ. We need your hands to carry us to our joy. To black or white. And step on it. Black or white. Between the shadow and uncertain colour. Between the word and sign. Between the man and all his time. Between the sidewalk and the moving stairway. Between the yay and nay ! There falls the thruth we aim to slay. There falls the thruth we do so righteous flay. Come black or white. And step on it. Black or white. Until we gather life and all our dreams. Until we cool the heat. Until we share our cup of meat. Until the trail of waste is put to stud. Until we drift away. Towards the picture in the frame. Our celebratian comes a game to play. Just black or white. And step on it. Black or white

Love’s A Prima Donna. I should say by the way that you're acting today. i can tell by the sigh in your eye, i can sure understand by the palm of your hand, that you know i'm so hot i could fry, because i've chased you, embraced you 'n' turned round 'n' faced you, crowned you the truth of my youth, but you give me the line in the words of our time, it's like living a stew that's what most lovers do, it's like escaping the sun, there's nowwhere you can run. I believe, i believe love's a lover's honour. I believe, i believe love's a prima donna too. I shoulda guessed by the rest of the men that you've blessed, i was only an eye for an eye, but you wanted a part of my innocent heart, i was only your ship in the night, i shoulda knew, shoulda knew i was out just for you, i believe in the power of the night, but like a fool i was had, now it's driving me mad, i was only a prize in your libertine eyes, i had it coming to me i was too late to see. I believe, i believe love's a lover's honour. I believe, i believe love's a prima donna too. I could fight with the might of a thief in the night, i could kick, i could tear at your hair, i could break you in two like a man ought to do, but the woman i see has a right to be free, and the woman i need is a mischievous breed, don't wanna live in a stew that's what most lovers do, it's like escaping the sun, there's nowhere you can run



Anonymous said...

you're just too good...

the saucer people said...

My jaw not only dropped to the floor when I saw some of your posts, it nearly rebounded and hit the ceiling! As a collector of obscure vinyl throughout the 80s who stupidly sold his collection years ago this is like entering a forgotten memory palace!

There are plenty of Steve Harley tracks on here I have never heard of so I am really looking forward to having a listen....it's worth a download for the live version of Sebastian which still sound astounding all these years later.

Anyway, about the differing balances in the audio level. I had the same problem till someone told me about a free software program called MP3Gain (I sound like an advert lol) - all you do is open the program, set your desired level (preset to 89 but I go for 95) load all your files and click on track gain and the levels are all sorted.

Occasionally (1 in 100) I get a file that sounds distorted when the frequencies are increased in volume so its worth having a quick check afterwards (seems the distortion applies to all the track so very quick to check)...anyway, hope this helps.

dk said...

Thx for the nice comment. Happy to bring some totally unknown songs to a wide audience. Thx also for the information in order to match sound level across tracks. I'll dl this software and use it. It would be a real improvement for the LP mixing vinyl rips with other sources.
Hope you'll find plenty of forgotten treasures here.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Enjoying some days of sunshiny holiday, and how to enjoy it event better : listening to this marvelous collection of Steve Harley songs. Indeed, it would have been a nice addition to have a fully remastered official cd of these gems... But who cares, YOU are the semi-official provider of such marvelous melodies.

Many many thanks,
from Derek from Paris on a holiday trip, not a death trip, just a sunshiny enjoyable lazy sunday afternoon !