Search - Steve Harley :: Face to Face

Face to Face
Steve Harley
Face to Face
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

Now Available for the First Time as a Single CD (Originally a Double LP), First Released in 1977 and Recorded Live at Concerts in England During December 1976 and January 1977.


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CD Details

All Artists: Steve Harley
Title: Face to Face
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Bgo - Beat Goes on
Release Date: 9/11/2000
Album Type: Import, Original recording remastered
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Style: Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 5017261205018, 0077779972050, 077779972029


Album Details
Now Available for the First Time as a Single CD (Originally a Double LP), First Released in 1977 and Recorded Live at Concerts in England During December 1976 and January 1977.

CD Reviews

A Master Showman And His All-Star Band
Mike B. | 04/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel were one of the few acts good enough to compete musically and visually with glam-era Bowie. After the latter's "Ziggy Stardust" triumph in 1972, many artists thought all they needed to do was wear make-up, nail polish, and platform boots. What they failed to take into account was that their music had to be as good as their look. Harley understood this, and chalked up hits right from the start.

As a former newspaper journalist, he seemed an unlikely candidate for pop stardom. Their first album "The Human Menagerie" (1973) featured the British and European smash "Sebastian". It set the tone for what would follow - poetic laissez-faire tales of decadence and debauchery. I say "poetic" because Harley's songs weren't usually "about" anything. He used poetic imagery to convey a particular atmosphere, and it was generally one of romantic decadence. Roxy Music was another band mining this same territory, but Harley was more celebratory than the gloomier Bryan Ferry. Cockney Rebel are frequently compared to Roxy Music and the Kinks. They were formidable instrumentalists like Roxy, and they used British music-hall and vaudeville in their music (at times) like the Kinks. Harley was also a theatrical frontman along the lines of the Kinks' Ray Davies, and would wear baggy clown pants or a bowler hat. In this way both differed from the icier showmanship of the high-fashion Bowie.

"Sebastian" stood out from the other songs on the first album. It was recorded with a full orchestra, which lent it an epic quality. The other tracks were frivolous pop, and got him off on a bad footing with rock critics. They thought he was ridiculous, and the album cover showing the band in very foppish glam outfits probably fed that perception. Despite this, they became a hit with teenyboppers. The truth is, Harley's songs would never again be as much fun. Harley's reaction to critical disdain was to fire the whole group. He only retained drummer Stuart Elliot from the original line-up.

It all turned out OK. The second Cockney Rebel is the one fans love and remember, and they would all go on to post-Rebel glory (more on that later). "The Psychomodo" (1974) was next, and was produced by Harley and Alan Parsons. It was fun, but a bit more serious. Parsons was best known for his work with the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and his own Alan Parsons Project. "Mr. Soft" was the hit off this one. They would co-produce again on "The Best Years Of Our Lives" (1975), which yielded the international (except America) number one single "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)". Harley jokingly refers to this perennial best-seller as his "pension", and it's one of the most-played songs in BBC radio history. By this time the critics had come around, and the album received raves. It wasn't as light-hearted as the first album, and was decidedly moodier and darker. It included many fan favorites - the nostalgic title track, "The Mad, Mad Moonlight", and "Mr. Raffles".

Harley produced the next one himself. "Timeless Flight" (1976) had no hits, but was good anyway. He produced himself again on "Love's A Prima Donna" (1976), and it was quite different. Someone must have turned Steve on to Todd Rundgren - especially Todd's "A Wizard/A True Star" (1973). LAPD was, like "Wizard", mostly song snippets that ran together like the second half of "Abbey Road". He filtered his vocals through a voice vocoder on one track, and when the songs weren't short they were early Utopia-length and weird. I'd call it a fascinating failure, but I grew to like it. The album contained his last hit single "Here Comes The Sun", a buoyant re-make of the Beatles classic. Then it was all over, except for the tour to promote it that resulted in the "live" album "Face To Face" (1977).

I love this album as much as Bowie's "David Live", and that's saying a lot. It contains almost all his best songs, slightly re-arranged, and in the case of the shorter LAPD tracks - fleshed out. He even takes an obscurity like "Red Is A Mean, Mean Colour" (from "Timeless Flight") and makes it a show-stopper. A couple songs are made into extended audience participation numbers, which is fun to hear. If you've never heard Harley's voice, he sounds like a flamboyant, cockney-accented Dylan. When the band broke up, they were so well-regarded that others snapped them up.

Keyboardist Duncan Mackay joined 10cc, and released a solo album "Score" (1977). He would also play on the first 3 Kate Bush albums. Jim Cregan became Rod Stewart's guitarist for many years, on record and on tour. He had left Cockney Rebel after recording LAPD with them, and was replaced by Jo Partridge on the "live" album. Partridge is still a session ace. Stuart Elliot and bassist George Ford played on Al Stewart's "Modern Times", and Elliot continued on Al's "Year Of The Cat" and "Time Passages". Elliot also drummed for Kate Bush for many years, starting with her first album "The Kick Inside". He's even on her latest CD "Ariel". Mackay played with the Alan Parsons Project for a while, and Elliot played with them even longer. Elliot would become a tour drummer for unlimited big-name acts, from Sting to Clapton. Harley contributed vocals to APP's "I, Robot" and Mackay's "Score". He sang backing vocals on the final T.Rex album "Dandy In The Underworld". In 1986 he recorded the Andrew Lloyd Webber song "The Phantom Of The Opera" as a duet with Sarah Brightman and had a hit single with it. Originally slated to appear with her in the London stage production, he lost out to Michael Crawford. Though Harley still puts out an occasional album and goes on tour, he's much lower profile these days.

For all their British and European success, the band was totally ignored in America. Almost no one knew about them, and their records didn't sell well here. So they must have gotten much satisfaction from "Make Me Smile" being included on the best-selling soundtrack for "The Full Monty" (1997). It sold millions, and America finally got to hear them 20 years after they'd disbanded. When director Todd Haynes made a movie about a "Ziggy Stardust"-type character and asked Bowie if he could use his songs, Bowie refused. Haynes ended up using Cockney Rebel and Roxy Music instead. Three Harley songs ended up on the "Velvet Goldmine" soundtrack (1998) - another belated windfall. Too bad it didn't happen during the band's lifetime.

But it's not too late to enjoy them. Their 5 studio albums are available on CD, and they're all great. For those not willing to shell out that kind of money, this "live" CD is a good choice. There's also numerous single-disc "greatest hits", and the fairly comprehensive 3-disc compilation "Cockney Rebel: The Steve Harley Anthology".

If you like Steve Harley you will love this
T. D., Morse | 04/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was introduced to this by my brother, before I had heard any other music by Steve Harley. I prefer the version on this live album to the studio versions. The bounce with more life and spontenaity. Even Steve Harley's voice, which can be an aquired taste, has greater body. the musicianship is tight, with some really good guitar playing. The one problem i do have is the extended vocalese at the ned of Sebastion, sometimes its wonderful, other times a little embarassing, depending on my move. Love (compared with you) is brilliantly moving, full of dynamics, and a killer mister Soft. A great album. If you want one Steve Harley recording in your collection make it this one."
A great piece of live music !
Wilfried Gruen | Genf | 10/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Back in the late seventies, I listened to this album more than often. A superbe live atmosphere on 'Make me Smile' and 'Best years of our lives', wonderful 'Here comes the sun', 'Mr. Soft' etc. I don't wanna miss this one on my CD shelf !"