Music CAM

Music 23 – Cockney Rebel

“It was just like a dream, yeah

a surreal scene,

like a blue orange”

The Mad Mad Moonlight
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

How to start an album. There is no rhyme.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the end of my first year at senior school (1974) the teacher let us chat and graffiti on the blackboard with chalks. The girls made Osmonds and Bay City Rollers logos. I would have made a Cockney Rebel one. I didn’t. Probably I would have got as far as Cock and been thrown out into the corridor.

The band was really an extension of the ego and arrogance that was Steve Harley. He’s still around but much humbler. He had a lot to be arrogant about, he was better than the crowd – well at least for the first three albums.

First Album – The Human Menagerie

The band stormed into the charts with Judy Teen – which ain’t on the album, so isn’t discussed here. Tee hee.

Here’s a screen grab of my Foobar. As you can see Death Trip is my favourite. Now what is wrong with a ten minute pion to suicide that steals unashamedly from Prokofiev (or was it The Skatalites?) with a full orchestra and redefines the phrase Over the Top? The cover is horrible, the logo shite, the clothes amazing (even then) and the band did not last. A good start. Actually Loretta’s Tale might go up to 3½*By the way it should be Al(bum score) 72.0.

First Album – The Human Menagerie – Bonuses

Harley felt that Judy Teen did not fit into the feel of the album so remained single only. It makes me happy. Little bit of innuendo helped with ‘Just stroking her f.. f.. face’

There’s always this thing about B sides. They either were recorded away from the other songs and the band had moved on musically – or the album had a certain vibe – or they were not very good.

Second Album – The Psycomodo

This led off with the single Mr Soft, which has a circus feel to it. By the way, no/very few guitars in this incarnation, but a violin. I remember walking dancing around the playground a la Monkees with Andy B. and Martin W. singing this.

A better album. Sweet dreams is really just a lead in to Psychomodo which is a really stormer. Nice and dischordant with Harley sounding like a mixture of Dylan and punk. The orchestra is there in various songs, Ritz is very ethereal in its phasing way, Cavaliers speaks of Coca Cola and wanking, Bed in the Corner and Sling it can be considered as one and Tumbling Down, previewed at the start of the album has great lines such as when the Titantic sails into Brighton (a town, not a harbour).

and the bonuses. These suffer as I’m not familiar with them. No wonder. I think I hear Linda Lewis as a backing singer.


Actually Such a Dream may go up in Chris’ inconsistent and irrelevant grading system. Weird. No. It may go down.

And at this point the band fell apart. I remember someone saying that Cockney Rebel and Be Bop Deluxe swapped members. Don’t think so.

The Third Album – The Best Years of our Lives

We are now ‘Steve Harley a& Cockney Rebel’ From now on sometimes ‘Steve Harley’, sometimes ‘Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’

A curious start, electronic ascending noises interrupted by the band singing the last song’s chorus as a 30’s pastiche then

“It was just like a dream, yeah

a surreal scene,

like a blue orange”

The Mad Mad Moonlight
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel


I thought my senses had gone

like I was writing a song

about a foot-long syringe

The Mad Mad Moonlight
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

And there’s your rhyme. Steve has a slight lisp so he carries this triumph.

A dark album about murder, vengeance, hidden guns etc.

The big song here is ‘Come Up and See Me (Make me Smile)’ which is a nasty song clothed in a pretty tune and an excellent acoustic solo.

And that’s it. Oh sod. Bonuses.

You will notice Sebastian was on the first album, so I’ll allow you to read from the top. Instead of the OTT orchestra we have a pretty good guitar solo. In fact we might be entering 4* territory.

Steve Harley kept releasing albums, with the occasional worthwhile song. I think he also started doing more intimate concerts which I think I’d love to see.

A photo? One, poor quality from 1973ish of my old cat.

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