STEVE HARLEY & COCKNEY REBEL The Cockney Rebel - A Steve Harley Anthology EMI (2006)
While Harley is best known for his - Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - single, he's had a long career that's maybe now more sporadic (or measured as the sleevenotes tell us) but there's still some fine material along the way.
The early material is folky, a touch jangly, typically English, and a breath of fresh air to the prog and hard rock boom counterparts of the early 70s. While -Sebastian- was quaint, -Spaced Out- was a violin and piano led thrash.
Disc 2 opens with the -Make Me Smile- single, which most recognise. Between faster numbers and ballads you get a range of pace, and some of it is a little off the wall; that folk influence hides behind even the more new wave material.
There's a definite progression in sound from Cockney Rebel to Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and more so to Steve Harley solo; disc 3 opens with the much more new wave pop, polished light rock number - Freedom's Prisoner. A solid rhythm and a decent tune too. Touches of AOR and MOR come in too.
Tracks like -I Can't Even Touch You- are real eye openers and thoroughly enjoyable too, especially for those not familiar with Harley beyond the odd hit. Almost New Romantic meets rock.
A good compilation, a good place to start, a good introduction, and with the odd rarity and previously unreleased number it'll please all.
Review by Joe Geesin