Sunday, 31 December 2017

STEVE HARLEY & COCKNEY REBEL THE PSYCHOMODO

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The Psychomodo

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The Psychomodo
Thepsychomodo.jpg
Studio album by Cockney Rebel
Released2 June 1974
January 1975 (US)
RecordedFebruary–March 1974
GenreGlam rock[1]
Length40:25
LabelEMI
ProducerSteve HarleyAlan Parsons
Cockney Rebel chronology
The Human Menagerie
(1973)
The Psychomodo
(1974)
The Best Years of Our Lives
(1975)
The Psychomodo is the second studio album by Cockney Rebel, released in 1974. It was produced by Steve Harley and Alan Parsons.[2]

Contents

  [show

Background[edit]

"Those first two albums were heavily orchestrated. I was 22 years old, at Abbey Road with a full orchestra and a choir for songs like "Sebastian". I'd busked with those songs for a year before Cockney Rebel signed to EMI, so to get all that was just... oh, it was magnificent for a young man."
 —Steve Harley recalling The Human Menagerieand The Psychomodo albums in 2013.[3]
Having signed a three-album deal with EMI Records in late 1972, Cockney Rebel released their debut album The Human Menagerie in November 1973. The album, and its single "Sebastian", both failed to enter the UK charts, although the single was a hit in Continental Europe.[4][5] The lack of success in the UK led EMI to feel that Harley had yet to record a potential hit single. In response, he went away and re-worked his unrecorded song "Judy Teen", which was released in March 1974 and became a UK Top 5 hit.[6]
When "Judy Teen" was released and began climbing the charts, the band had already started recording their second album The Psychomodo. It was recorded during February and March 1974, at Morgan Studios, Nova Sound Studios and AIR Studios in London. It was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. On the album, Harley received his first production credit, producing alongside Alan Parsons. In similarity to the band's debut album, a large symphony orchestra and choir was used on certain tracks with orchestral arrangements again conducted by Andrew Powell.[5]
In the liner notes for the 2012 compilation Cavaliers: An Anthology 1973-1974, Harley recalled:
"...The Psychomodo, too, was a record whose time we laughed through. Alan Parsons came in as co-producer/engineer, and his own willingness to accept many offbeat ideas made life easy enough. More strings and horns, and again we had Andrew Powell, with his brilliant classical-rock thinking, to orchestrate. I do remember where the songs came from. They came from a young man's dream, where the blending of musical literature and mad, formless imaginings, could hang out together at the same folk club and present him with an entire raison d'etre."[5]
Preceding the album was the title track single "Psychomodo". Released in mid-May 1974, EMI soon withdrew the single from sale in the UK. Despite this, it was given a full release across Europe and peaked at #28 in Belgium.[7] In early June 1974, The Psychomodo was released and proved to be the band's breakthrough album in the UK. It reached #8 on the UK Albums Chart, and remained in the Top 50 for twenty weeks, giving the band their longest charting album.[8]
Between May and July 1974, Cockney Rebel embarked on a major British tour to promote the album.[9] As the tour progressed, the band faced growing tensions, which ultimately led to the band's split at the end of the tour in late July. On 18 July, the band received a 'Gold Award' for outstanding new act of 1974, and a week later they had split-up over their disagreements.[10] Jean-Paul Crocker, Milton Reame-James and Paul Jeffreys quit the band after having demanded to write material for the group, despite the initial understanding that Harley was the sole songwriter.[11]
In late July 1974, EMI released the album's second single "Mr. Soft". By this time, Cockney Rebel had already disbanded. In August, the song peaked at #8 in the UK and #16 in Ireland.[8][12] To perform the song on Top of the Pops, Harley had to form an impromptu line-up of the band. Later in the year, Harley formed a new line-up of the band, renaming them Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. The only member of the original line-up to join the new group was drummer Stuart Elliott. In January 1975, EMI also released "Tumbling Down" from The Psychomodo, as a promotional single in America, under the band's new name.[13] In 1975, the new line-up would reach the UK number-one spot with "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)", a song based on the split of the original band. In a television interview recorded in 2002, Harley described how the lyrics were vindictively directed at the former band members who, he felt, had abandoned him.[14][15]
On 24 November 2012, the band performed the album live at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. At this concert, Harley and the band, supported by an orchestra and chamber choir, performed the band's first two albums in their entirety. The performance was released in 2013 as a CD album, and DVD release, under the title Birmingham (Live with Orchestra & Choir).[16] The same show was performed four more times in 2014; at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, Sage Gateshead, London's Royal Albert Hall, and again at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.[17]

Song information[edit]

"Ritz" had already been recorded as a demo in 1972, but was not recorded for The Human Menagerie. During that year, the band's early incarnation had featured Pete Newnham on guitar. This line-up recorded three demos at Riverside Recordings; "Judy Teen", "Ritz" and "That's Alright That's Me". In an exclusive interview with Newnham for the unofficial fan site Harley Fanzone, he recalled:
We made our first demos at a friend of Steve's studio, Riverside Recordings. "Judy Teen", "Ritz" and "That's Alright That's Me" were the three songs. I had expected to do two guitar tracks, one a rhythm guitar and then a lead overdub for each song - but there was only time for a very rushed guitar take. So, although at the time we all were over the moon with the general result, I wasn't too happy with the guitar. Going back to those demo tracks, they were very clean and untreated, except for a phased drum reverb fadeout on "Ritz" and a bit of echo on John's violin on "Judy Teen". A lot of time was spent getting Steve's vocals to sound right, and they sounded amazing. Anyway, the demo was to play to prospective management rather than record companies."[18]

Release[edit]

The album was originally released by EMI on vinyl across the world, including the UK, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Yugoslavia.[19] In January 1975, the album was released in America on vinyl and 8-track, but under the new band name Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. This release also featured a new sleeve which used a photograph of Harley holding a telephone on the front.[20][21] Later in 1985, The Psychomodo was re-issued on vinyl in the UK by Fame.[22]
In 1990, the album received its first CD release through EMI, which featured two bonus tracks; Harley's 1974 debut solo single "Big Big Deal" and "Such a Dream", which was the B-Side to both the "Psychomodo" and "Mr. Soft" singles.[23] On 26 July 1991, a Japanese edition of the CD was issued, with the same bonus tracks, under the Progressive Rock Series.[24] In 2001, BGO Records re-issued the album on CD, but without any bonus tracks.[25] On 13 May 2009, the album saw another CD release in Japan, as a remastered, limited edition version.[26] Parlophone would re-issue the album on CD again in Japan on 21 October 2015.[27]
In 2012, the album was also included in its entirety on the remastered four-disc box-set anthology compilation album Cavaliers: An Anthology 1973-1974. This release also included previously unreleased 'early versions' of many of the debut album tracks, as well as B-Sides and live tracks from the period.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Steve Harley.
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Dreams"2:05
2."Psychomodo"4:03
3."Mr. Soft"3:17
4."Singular Band"3:00
5."Ritz"7:17
6."Cavaliers"8:33
7."Bed in the Corner"3:32
8."Sling It!"2:43
9."Tumbling Down"5:58

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974)Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[8]8

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[29]
Cash Boxfavourable[30]
New Musical Expressmixed[31]
Rolling Stone (German edition)4/5 stars[32]
Veronica Magazine3.25/5 stars[33]
Upon release, Charles Shaar Murray of New Musical Express reviewed The Psychomodo, and stated: "Most of Psychomodo is disposable. But on the first side, "Mr Soft" succeeds primarily on the strength of the arrangement. But it's "Ritz" that justifies the existence of the album. Harley wanders the mirrored corridors of his phantom hotel, and the elegant, mournful violin collides with its own dark side before the whole things erupts into a nightmare party sequence. One good track don't make a star, but Harley has proved that he does have something going."[31] American magazine Cash Box commented: "Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel are even more explosive on this their second LP than they were on the first. The band of English rockers goes far afield occasionally, but only in an attempt to refine and define their sound to a universal pitch. Highlighted by such cuts as "Sweet Dreams," "Tumbling Down," "Singular Band" and the scintillating title track, the record moves with intensity and purpose and in every way lives up to the band's reputation as a great live act."[34]
Dave Thompson of AllMusic retrospectively said: "If The Human Menagerie was a journey into the bowels of decadent cabaret, The Psychomodo is like a trip to the circus. Except the clowns were more sickly perverted than clowns normally are, and the fun house was filled with rattlesnakes and spiders. Such twists on innocent childhood imagery have transfixed authors from Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, but Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel were the first band to set that same dread to music, and the only ones to make it work. Harley's themes remained essentially the same as last time out - fey, fractured alienation; studied, splintered melancholia, and shattered shards of imagery which mean more in the mind than they ever could on paper."[29] In a 2012 review of Cavaliers: An Anthology 1973-1974Uncut stated: "...still, 1974's The Psychomodo is anything but effete. "Ritz" and "Cavaliers" fathom its For Your Pleasure-era Roxy Music depths, and Harley signs off in style on "Tumbling Down", with the John Cale-ish screams in the big pay-off line "Oh dear, look what they've done to the blues", a barbed combination of anti-Ten Years After harangue and self-reverential gloating."[35]

Personnel[edit]

Band
Production
  • Steve Harley - producer
  • Alan Parsons - producer
  • Peter Flanagan - engineer (Morgan Studios)
  • Richard Dodd - engineer (Nova Sound)
  • Geoff Emerick - engineer (AIR Studios)
  • John Middleton - engineer (AIR Studios)
  • Andrew Powell – orchestral and brass arrangements
  • Chris Blair - mastering
Sleeve
  • Mick Rock - photography, sleeve design, etc.

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