Thursday, 18 May 2017

"Rebel" by JOHN MILES (March 2008 Lemon Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD - Tim Turan Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Man Behind The Guitar..."

Jarrow's JOHN MILES popped out his debut album "Rebel" in March 1976 on Decca Records and promptly took his native Blighty by storm (and everywhere else for that matter as evidenced by the number of picture sleeves to the "Music" single on Page 2 of the gorgeous booklet).

Produced by studio whizz Alan Parsons who’d steered Pink Floyd’s "The Dark Side Of The Moon" to global domination in 1973 and containing the reasonable hit "Highfly" from the preceding year (No. 17 in October 1975) - "Rebel" the album had one further absolute ace up its tootin' sleeve - the single "Music".

Clocking up a whopping 10 failed singles on Orange and Decca Records since 1970 - Miles had been around for years - writing and slugging away. But the six-minute "Music" released in the same month as the album (March 1976) caught the public's imagination and heart completely. I remember it was absolutely huge - people basking in its sentiment, brilliant slow-to-funky structure and those epic Andrew Powell string arrangements. Tapping into that Elton John "Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy", Wings "Venus And Mars" and 10cc "How Dare You" marketplace for sophisticated rock - "Music" pushed up to No. 3 on the UK pop charts and would come to define John Mile's song legacy for decades after. 

But there's other goodies on this album worth seeking out and that's where this rather superb Lemon Recordings CD reissue comes shooting in. Here are the details...

UK released March 2008 (May 2008 in the USA) - "Rebel" by JOHN MILES on Lemon Recordings CD LEM 105 (Barcode 5013929770522) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with Two Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (49:53 minutes):

1. Music [Side 1]
2. Everybody Wants Some More
3. Highfly
4. You Have It All
5. Rebel [Side 2]
6. When You Lose Someone So Young
7. Lady Of My Life
8. Pull The Damn Thing Down
9. Music (Reprise)
Tracks 1 to 9 are his debut album "Rebel" - released March 1976 in the UK on Decca SKL 5231 and April 1976 in the USA on London PS 669. Produced by ALAN PARSONS - it peaked at No. 9 in the UK and No. 171 in the USA. John Miles and Bob Wallace wrote all songs except "Music" and "Lady Of My Life" by John Miles.

10. There's A Man Behind The Guitar - non-album B-side to the UK 7" single for "Highfly" released September 1975 on Decca F 13595
11. Putting My New Song Together - non-album B-side to the UK 7" single for "Music" released March 1976 on Decca F 13627

JOHN MILES - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
BARRY BLACK - Drums And Percussion
The Maggini Quartet - Strings on "Music"
Phil Kenzie - Saxophone solo on "Lady Of My Life"
Andrew Powell - String Arrangements

The 16-page booklet is a feast of foreign pictures sleeves for the albums two big hitters "Highfly" and "Music" - rare issues from around the word - sheet music and more. You also get the lyrics and new decently in-depth liner notes from STEPHEN CARSON. The foldout poster that came with original copies of the British vinyl LP was the front sleeve photographed by Terry O'Neill but because of the cover art to the booklet is exactly that - it's kind of superfluous to requirements so Lemon have left it out. TIM TURAN - who handled the Nazareth catalogue to such great effect - has taken a beautifully produced album and given it the CD upgrade it deserves. This disc sounds great and fans are also going to appreciate those two rare non-album B-sides in such rocking audio.

The album opens and closes on the epic "Music" - his piano gently leading in the song before funk and strings take it to another level. Overplayed a tad on radio these days - it still holds up and you can so hear why it was so huge 40 years ago. That's followed by another one of the album's genuinely great tracks - the very 10cc-meets-ELO "Everybody Wants Some More" where his great vocals soar up and down to complimentary strings and clever arrangements. The incredibly Pilot-meets-The Hollies sounding "Highfly" was an obvious single and came out as far back as September 1975 and was rewarded with his taste of chart action - No. 17. The side ends on the seven-minute "You Have It All" and feels so Captain Fantastic Elton John it's not true - all guitars and keyboards that funk and boogie like they're making a Prog record.

I've always felt that "Rebel" was the hammy overdone moment on the record - better is the touching "When You Lose Someone So Young" which is almost done for by strings but gets through. Hall & Oates fans might like the keyboard slink of "Lady Of My Life" which has a very "Abandoned Luncheonette" feel to it. It ends on the seven-minute "Pull The Damn Thing Down" - a ecology song about over-building that rocks to the finish with a segue into a "Music" Reprise. Of the two B-sides I prefer the rocking "Putting My New Song Together" where words and music are going around his head while riffage threatens to do your speakers in.

I've always wondered why "Rebel" receives so many five-star reviews - it just isn't that great an album (a good one yes, a great one, no). In fact I think his follow-up "Stranger In The City" from February 1977 also reissued with Bonus Tracks by Lemon was a better record overall. But if you've any love for the "Music" of 1976 - then this is most definitely the version of "Rebel" to let into your living room. Well done to all involved...

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