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4.7 out of 5 stars42
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 23 June 2014
It's been a great couple of years for us Harley fans. First up was the 'Cavaliers' box set which was the first two CR albums given the 'deluxe' treatment with added demos, BBC Sessions & Concert, then more recently we have had the 'Birmingham' CD & DVD set, again showcasing the first two CR albums, plus a few gems added to the set list, then finally we have this 'definitive' 4 CD version of 'Best Years', the most successful of Steve's albums ever. Regarding the album itself, it has been mastered superbly and sounds stunning in all it's glory for it. It forms CD 1 along with a few 'bonus' tracks. 'Another Journey', which continued a string of excellent 'b' sides that most artists would die for, and something that Steve would continue to do for a few albums more. Then we the single mix of 'Mr Raffles' which I always preferred to the album cut simply because the second verse of the album cut sounded almost too bare with Duncan's piano not as fully fleshed out. I always did love the little synth flourish though that came after he sings 'dream machine' which turned up again during 'Understand' on 'Timeless Flight'. Then we get two alternate versions of two key cuts. A 'rough mix' of 'Come Up & See Me' which features a different lead vocal, a couple of lyrical changes, and quite surprisingly a lovely bit of brass during one of the verses, an idea that was sadly dropped (or mixed very low) as it does add some flavour. Then finally an 'acoustic' version of the title track which I thought may have been just been the acoustic guitar & vocal isolated from the main mix, but no, this is almost a first take demo with lots of lyrical changes and a major couplet reversed. Instead of sing 'tragic' then 'magic' in the chorus he sings them the other way around, which gives a completely different vibe to the whole song.
The second & third CD's comprise the legendary gig from the Hammersmith Odeon on the 14th April 75, and what a corker of a gig this is. To many fans at the time, hearing songs from the first two albums played by this band must have been a major eye opener. Steve is on fine form, though viewing the footage that make's up the DVD on disc four, he is clearly out of his head on the happy baccy. He is grinning like a madman ! The ending of 'Sling It ' is unbelievable. And if you are wondering where the classic 'live' 'b' versions of 'Mad Mad Moonlight' & 'Sebastian' are, well they are here as this is the gig they were taken from.
It's a shame the DVD is a little butchered and only represents a few numbers, but boy is it classic footage. The bowler hat, the mad eyes, everything that makes the man such a brilliant performer is there for all to see. This film was actually a 'B' feature in the cinema at the time if you are wondering where or why it has been edited in this manner. The only clumsy bit is the intro, with a few fan's actually voicing approval that Steve is better than 'Bowie', some chance, and that 'Bowie' is too old and has disappeared ! 'Bowie' was actually on the verge of his groundbreaking 'Berlin' trilogy which by the time he had completed it, Steve was the one who had disappeared ! Some people never know do they ! Lol.
All in all though, this is an excellent package and well worth the money. Just a little afterthought, a journalist friend of mine interviewed Steve last week (June 2014) and he said Steve has plans for a complete show playing this album in full, hopefully together with 'Timeless Flight' (my personal favourite), fittingly the next two albums in the sequence carrying on from his current show which features the first two a la 'Birmingham'. Like the mans surname, 'Nice !'
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on 22 November 2004
TBYOOL, recorded with the second incarnation of Cockney Rebel, had a hard act to follow. The previous line up had been awarded a Gold Star for Outstanding New Act of 1974 and their second album, Psychomodo, was a work of brilliance.
This album has a distinctly different flavour than Harley's more folk-flavoured previous works. It leans closer to pop and glam rock, hence the electric violin has been cut back and in its place is electric guitar, played by the excellent Jim Cregan. However, the fantastical lyrics and sneering voice of Harley ensure that his signiature sound is not dulled with these changes.
TBYOOL is a superb album, mixing the more upbeat pop tracks (Mad Mad Moonlight) with the darker songs (Back To The Farm, It Wasn't Me) which peppered The Psychomodo. Whatever you may think of Harley's unusual lyrics (which can all make sense in their own context), he certainly paints his imagery vividly and with the utmost conviction. This third album remains one of his best, even against his two previous works. Even if you are not a fan, you may well appreciate this well-crafted album.
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on 8 December 2007
Undoubtedly the most successful Steve Harley (& Cockney Rebel) Album. I recall in 1975 rushing out with all my pocket money to buy the vinyl....the grooves were worn thin due to constant playing! The Best Years.....yip, i guess they were...and Harley was instrumental in making them so. I recall Make Me Smile getting to No.1 in February....such personal joy...."MY GROUP" at No. 1! 30 years on it's still a firm favourite at clubs and on the radio. Best track on the album? not MMS but Mad, Mad, Moonlight! play it loud...sit back and soak up the quality of a line up of some of the best musicians and tracks of the era (and since!).........
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on 12 August 2000
I first heard this album around 1980 and am very pleased to see it is still available after so many years. The depth of emotion that Steve Harley can put into music is well known, and this album is one for the kind. It is at the same time hypnotic and rousing. If you have not heard this one, buy it now.
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on 11 August 2005
Its the summer of 2005 and this 70's classic sounds FRESH! I couldn't stop playing it and it can still give all the Britpop pretenders of the current era something to aspire to. Yes, it ofcourse has the most famous of the Cockney Rebel songs, the delicious "Come Up and See Me (make me smile)", but there is an edge of irony and a savage pleasure in life that hangs about almost every song on this album. Almost all these tracks show consumate music making skill and would be able to succeed as commercial singles if released in today's less adventurous musical climate. This music SNEERS with its own self-assured brilliance. And that is saying something given the sneering vocals of the lead, Steve Harley at the height of his powers. The tortured and slightly - well, Cockney - accent is almost unique, the vocabulary of the lyrics is poetry - and too clever by half, thus rendering it almost camp (with relish, Mr. Harley drawls the lines on 'Mr Raffles': "I didn't see you had a gun - until you shot that Spanish Dancer!" while castanetas click bizarelly in the background...). Its an acquired taste, but not too hard to acquire, and the overly mannered style sizzles on a hot pan of sexual energy and thwarted male charisma. Listening to this makes you feel a little bit more groovy, baby, yeah, than you ever really thought you could be...
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on 15 May 2004
I first found out about Steve Harley through the music of T. Rex. Finding Cockney Rebel was a true musical blessing. "Best Years of Our Lives" is the definitive Cockney Rebel album. If you've never heard of the band before, that won't mean much, so let me put things into perspective. Cockney Rebel came onto the UK music scene in the early 70's. Their music could be described as touching on elements of T.Rex, David Bowie, and Roxy Music, but over time they were able to craft their own signature sound. With Cockney Rebel, you got a lot of variety: rock, jazz, opera, and avante garde -- quite a wide style range! They were very big for a time in the UK, but never really made a dent in the USA.
This album contains one of their biggest hits, "Make Me Smile," (which has been covered by a ton of bands and shows up in a bunch of movie soundtracks) but the album as a whole provides the perfect listening experience from beginning to end. My favorite tracks are "Mad, Mad Moonlight," "Best Years of Our Lives," "Make Me Smile," and "Panorama."
Steve Harley is still around and performs several dates a year in the UK. The man can still put on an excellent show and still retains a devoted fan following. If you are a fan of Steve Harley or 70's Glam Rock, do not pass this album up. This is a definite entry on my top ten desert island discs.
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on 1 January 2016
A great album but not Cockney Rebel!
This is a very good album totally different from the previous 2 Cockney Rebel albums but this is Steve Harley with Stuart Elliott plus 3 new guys. Steve done the right thing here not to get in 3 guys to emulate Jean-Paul Crocker, Milton Reame-James & Paul Jeffreys, but to create a new sound. It was a success and sold very well due to the fact of the Number 1 Single (Come up and see me (Make me smile!)) is on it! I like the album - it is good!
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on 1 May 2015
fantastic bin listening to this on worn out vinyl for ..........well to long, this revamped ,reissued wid lots of extras cd (with a dvd from 70 summut)
has took me to the 70's and a realization that mp3's have all but killed of rock music in all it's styles,2days music ,and i use the word music,tentatively like the plastic that plays it so throw away-able with a very few ...very few, exceptions there will be no more bands touring and producing masterpieces like this again just be thankful we have a huge back catalogue to get through,long live the beatles stones bowie ,bolan harley et el viva rock n roll
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on 29 June 2015
My wife and I are both huge fans of Steve Harley having seen him several times live on stage. This album is being performed live, later in the year by Steve and most of the original members of Cockney Rebel on tour. I have tickets, what more can I say, the man's a wonder to behold, one of our best singer/songwriters.
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on 25 March 2016
I first bought this in 1975...Steve brought some great music out and 4 or 5 are excellent (the first 4 in particular)...this is a great tribute to his most successful piece of work. I saw him do the first two albums live in Birmingham with the orchestra and loved it...hope see him do this in a similar fashion...
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