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An overlooked classic,
This review is from: The Human Menagerie (Audio CD)
For all of you that remember Steve Harley and his Cockney Rebel group from the hit single 'Make me Smile', its worth looking back at the groups very first Album The Human Menagerie which has been given a welcome release to help those of us that have worn our old Cassette. This has sentimental value for me...the first Pop LP that I ever purchased on my 17th birthday. It still resonates today as one of the finest and most original collection of songs from the 70's.
Cockney Rebel stood out by using a violin as its lead instrument, replacing the electric guitar. The effect gives each of the songs a rebellious gypsy like feel to each of tracks, complemented by the twinkling electric piano, and Harley's strange emotive voice.
The tracks are all melodic and facinatingly original, with the stand-out tracks being the emotive 'Loretta's Tale' and the Rip-roaring 'Crazy Raver' and 'Muriel the Actor'.
The track 'Sebastian'was a huge hit in Europe when it was released. Propelled by Harley's cry 'Somebody called me Sebastian' and backed by the full power of an Orchestra and Chior Its true that 'they don't make songs like this anymore'!
The most astounding piece of music is reserved for the final track 'DEATH TRIP' A 10 minute epic, it has Harley singing about death and the solution of teenage revolution. The Ochestra kicks in as Harley sings 'can you think of one good reason to remain?'
After this, some swirling dangerous violins take us into the second part of this song, where Harley sings about Sweet Ipomoea and Children at war...We then have a simple tune-right out of the classics- though I guess its original- played on the piano, and then given the classic build up with orchestral and then Chior as the tune develops to a crescendo worthy of Beethovan. There is then a mouth-dropping drum roll and violin climax which builds and builds which then gives way to Harleys conclusion to the song. Its as close to perfection as one can get.
Along with Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, this has got to be one of the essential CD's from the 70's, and its too bad that this is one of the most overlooked.