Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
The Best Years Of Our Lives CHRYSALIS
Forty-fifth anniversary double vinyl reissue of camp rock classic.
It’s curious that Steve Harley’s back catalogue is rarely lauded in the manner of his more celebrated rivals Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.
A case in point is 1975’s
The Best Years Of Our Lives. Featuring a hastily assembled line-up that includes ex-Family guitarist Jim Cregan, the third Cockney Rebel album is a melodic master class, Harley’s waspish lyrics and snooty vocal delivery perfectly suited to intricately arranged songs about everything from unlikely one-night stands (Mad Mad Moonlight) to fictional thief AJ Raffles (Mr. Raffles). While the variety of musical styles is impressive – it switches seamlessly from swaggering glam boogie (Panorama) to proto-Blockheads-style funk
(49th Parallel) to shimmering synth soundscapes (It Wasn’t Me), it’s Harley’s pop smarts that make it sparkle. Best of all, of course, is the timeless
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me), which finds the singer delivering a cynical broadside to the former bandmates he felt had deserted him (‘You’ve broken every code, and pulled the rebel to the floor’) over one of the era’s most memorable tunes. ■■■■■■■■■■