Thursday, 9 February 2017

John Miles -- Rebel 1976

Let's Put My Favourite John Miles Album Up Here's Rebel From 1976....

Album Review
(by Stephen A Carson)
The first track is "Music" and is only one of two tracks, on the album, penned by John without Bob. Melody Maker said that "Music is a dynamite track, one of those tunes you find yourself humming and loving - then hating for its familiarity." In a way I believe Music is John Miles albatross, the one song he is pigeon holed with against which all his other work is measured.
"Everybody wants some More" is more often than not referred to as reminiscent of the early Kinks or the Beatles. My view is of the latter with its "multi-flavoured vocals and good tempo changes" per Jester with touches of "Yellow Submarine" (megaphone effects) per Melody maker.
"You have it all" was described by Rolling Stone as bathing "Yes-styled modal fragments in lush orchestration. I have no idea what that means but I like it.
"Rebel" & "Highfly" have already been touched on. However, Rolling Stone states "Rebel dramatically interposes a Tango for electric guitar and synthesiser with a string quartet." While Melody Maker called it " a chunky, beefy scorcher."
"When You Lose Someone So Young" is a very strong track lyrically. As such some reviewers have criticised it for too much backing as it could be a stand out song with just an acoustic guitar. While I do not wholeheartedly agree I can see the point especially as it would have made it a contrast to the rest of the album. There are shades of fellow Geordie Alan Price and also Elton John in this song.
"Lady of My Life" makes me think of Stevie Wonder, who I know is one of John's musical influences. This was also picked up upon by almost every review I have read. It is "softy and delicate" to quote Melody Maker and there is a terrific sax solo by Phil Kenzie. It is the 2nd song written solely by John and it is beautiful. I think he probably wrote it for his wife, Eileen.
"Pull the Damn Thing Down" is apparently reminiscent of the Kinks per Record World. I agree with Melody Makers view that it "His guitar solo is a killer, refreshingly lacking in clich├ęs". Earlier in their review they describe the track as "a blazing commentary on the pollution of the environment by the architectural planners". I am sure that I have read that one of the influences for this song was his own background as his parents live in the High Street in Jarrow, an industrial town in the North East of England, where there was a lot of redevelopment.
Hopefully the impression I have given you was that there were few criticisms of Rebel or of John and plenty praise and expectation of great things to come. His biography at the time placed him with the "new" songwriters of the time, Leo Sayer and David Essex as well as noting similarities with established British songwriters, Bowie and Elton. Even Noel Edmonds, in his time as a BBC Radio 1 DJ had Rebel as his album of the week. Billboard magazine said, "Miles could potentially fill the gap that has long existed between some of the more electronic rockers and AM play". Almost as an after thought they ended with "Good guitarist as well". What an understatement!!

So it got good write-ups. But did it sell? For a debut album it did really well peaking at number 9. In the states for a time it was retitled "Highfly" after his first hit but did not match its UK success. One of John's prize possessions is the gold disc he received for the album. Also added to the album here a live version of music played at the Prom's.

Enjoy .......


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