George Starostin's Reviews



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Mike Boon <> (03.05.2003)

great objective reviews, on 4 albums but there around 10 with timeless flight and best years of our lives being the real outstanding ones and Steve is still playing and recording His poetic justice album of 1999 is also well worth a listen. as with all his work if your not a die hard fan it could take a couple of tries.


Leo Slick <> (30.05.2003)

'Rock And Roll Parade' is the B-side of the 'Sebastian' single.

'Judy Teen' was backed by 'Spaced Out' (Hobo With A Grin CD).

Sergey Zhilkin <> (09.04.2004)

Now that's a way to start a musical career: an album, which sounds like a great band on its peak, not a debut from five unknown lads. It's a shame this album is so good: you realise that next records will only get worse.

Human menagerie has it all: Kinks' style brit-pop married with rich and serious orchestration, American country merged with British folk and pure music hall with cockney accent. If you hate violins, saxophones and honky-tonk piano I guess you'd better stick to something else, but if you want an alternative to guitar sound - you have it. "Mirror freak", "Muriel actor" and "Crazy raver" are all catchy with good lyrics that look like sketches. Two epics ("Sebastian" and "Death trip") are both impressive and charming, especially the later - I simply adore the instrumental part in the middle.

Great album, and I don't use word "great" too much lately, you know.

By the way, it was released in the first half of 1973, not 1974.

jmmichalko <> (04.12.2005)

George, you asked question to the web`s public: Who is "so called" Sebastian? Mythical Sebastian!!! Traces are two:

1. Sebastian is drama-person from mythical&cult Tenesee Williams "Suddenly Last Summer" and maybe better known as USmovie [same titled] with Monty Clift.

2. Sebastian is a Oscar Wilde "Sebastian Melmoth" [nick name] under the name he lived in Paris after a banishment from England (1897)[in case you don`t know: some "scandalous&demoralizing behaviour"]. Both traces are soooo gay and fits perfectly into a Harley`s "beauteous" imagination of Human Menagerie.


Peter Young <> (09.06.2006)

I'm just a bit younger than Steve Harley so Human Menagerie was released when I was around 16 or 17 and I must say, this Album has been by far my ultimate Favorite of any that I have ever heard in my entire life. Why? I really can't explain, maybe Cockney Rebel came on the scene during my most influential years? Maybe I'd never heard anything quite like it untill then? I don't know. I still hum, whistle and sing to myself various tracks 34 years later, it's never left me.

Sure, Harley has created some masterpieces since then, I love them all, especially Face to Face, I saw that tour in Birmingham, England, in total, I've been lucky enough to see Steve live in various Concerts on 5 occasions, every one of them memorable.

He's "Great, fantastic, wizard...OK"? Now which Album did THAT come from??


Lloyd Peppard <> (27.06.2003)

I'm not really surprised nobody has reviewed this album, which is rather a contradictory statement, since I think it's a great album. I only mean that for some reason Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel seem to be hopelessly obscure here in North America. I mean, they don't even appear in the Rolling Stone album guide. They're just nonexistant. All of this obscurity made me hesitant to buy this album (which I had to order from Amazon with a backorder delay). What eventually pushed me over the edge was a Cockney Rebel greatest hits album I found completely by accident in a record store in Toronto and the fact that they were the only band featured on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack that I seemed to be completely unaware of. And, of course, being a student of glam I knew that they'd been photographed by Mick Rock.

So, seeing that this album seemed to have the most songs I was familiar with, I bought it. And it's amazing. It's got such a great mood. It's happy and tragic, with the end of 'Tumbling Down' appearing distorted at the opening and then returning full blown in the final strains of the ending. And so many of the songs just blend together so wonderfully, 'Sweet Dreams' to 'Psychomodo', 'Bed in the Corner' to 'Sling it', etc. After all the upbeat, silly happiness of the two opening tracks has decayed to romantic/tragic decadent glam overload, you have 'Sling it' with it's frantic vocals and charging beat, followed by the bittersweet piano and strings of 'Tumbling Down', which ends with a soaring sing along reprise of that initial theme. I really can't get my head around the fact that something like this wouldn't be as popular as some of Roxy Music's stuff. I mean, it's almost as experimental but seems to me much more heartfelt, because, even though I love Roxy Music, Ferry always seems to be stepping outside himself in observation, while Steve Harley seems be to right in the middle of a thousand tribulations. Now, I know, these are all merely subjective projections, but with the chanting voices backed by the violins at the end of this record, doesn't it have a sense of salvation? Especially after all those long woozy heartboroken and indecipherable ballads in the middle? And on that note I like that the lyrics are somewhat indecipherable. What difference does it make as long as snatches of words flow so perfectly together? I like Harely's lyrics better than Marc Bolan's lyrics which, although often beautiful, are often repetitive and even more inscrutable. Anyway, it doesn't matter what I think because no one I know has heard of this album let alone this band and no one is likely to be turned on to them simply because I posted a review on some website not very concerned with the politics of all things glam. But whatever. I tried. At least this site's more comprehensive than Rolling Stone.


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Mik Boon <> (07.10.2005)

I cant believe this was slated by you. This was Steves "comeback album", although he had never really been away,I remember on radio one with Johnny Walker where Steve discussed each track over a week of featured interviews dont ever remember another artist given such treatment this was because Johnnie Walker recognised the quality and importance of the Album. It has to be remembered in the context of the time it was written. 1976 was a pretty turbulent year in the world in general and tracks like Red is a mean mean colour reflected that . Whether it was anti communist or pro communist is down to the listeners interpretation which shows just how clever Mr Harley was in writing his lyrics. White white dove with its funky little undertones showed the overriding optimism of peace whilst at the same time Black or white was equally pessimistic of the future. Understand a lovely ballad in steves inimitable style showing just how much we dont understand. and everything changes explaining exactly why nothing does change. While dont go dont cry doesnt work for me unless I am totally pissed then its hilarious. BUT the album is a concept album and as such should be listened to in its entirety prferably alone through headphones in a darkened room whilst remembering the cold war , Cyprus, Northern Ireland etc etc.

Great website by the way and I guess if you take the time to review cockney rebel Its better than ignoring the great man.

Mark Scarfe <> (18.10.2005)

The beauty of music is that it is so personal and subjective.

Here we have a reviewer who seems to have a reasonable handle on Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, and an appreciation of their music in the wider scheme of things. Yet he describes the unique "Nothing is Sacred" as one of the 2 worst songs SH has written. I respect the opinion, but couldn't disagree more.

To my ears "Nothing is Sacred" is extraordinary work; the work of a genius. The lyrics do indeed come out at you in floods and torrents, and quite right they do not leave space for choruses or curious instrumental passages of any sort. And that's exactly why it is remarkable and different. It is hugely original - no twee 3 bar pop tune and chorus offering here, instead we are treated to a complete one-off masterpiece. The wonderful dancing of the two acoustic guitars is all that is needed to drive the song at pace, and the marriage of these with typical Harleyesque lyrics is note and word perfect; nothing jars, nothing is out of place, nothing is missing. All is exactly as it should be.

The fact that Harley conceived, created and delivered this just 3 years after unleashing the entirely different Human Menagerie debut evidences his ever-shifting musical boundaries. Apart from his always recognisable and unusual voice, and the quality of musicianship, there is nothing to link these two albums. This is to his credit. He could have been forgiven for keeping the original CR flavour as they were acclaimed as the most imaginative 'alternative' offering around. He didn't. He could have been expected to stick to a winning 'Make Me Smile' formula and rake in the cash with more of the same. He didn't. Timeless Flight was different again, with its mix of dreamlike musings and obscure political references. More serious? Yes, perhaps so. But no weaker for it I would argue.

I loved the reveiwer's comment about 'Understand' - "will either bring you on your knees or bore the shit out of you". Spot on. I adore it to this day, and back in the late seventies stole many of it's lyrics to form letters to adolescent loves! ("You're like a magnet stuck in my memory; I'd hide if I could but I'm red in a yellow sea" - how could any 16 year old girl resist!!!). I wallow in it still to this day, but I can well imagine others hearing it simply as dated slush.

Which brings us full circle - the subjective nature of music. I rate Timeless Flight as an unappreciated gem, and if I had to pick one Harley offering for my desert Island this would be it. In fact, I'd pick this above any offering from any other artist as well. And as for 'Nothing is Sacred', it is truly my best loved song of all time, sounding as challenging, inventive and new now as it did when I first heard it almost 30 years ago.

Graeme Blake <> (10.01.2006)

'Nothing is Sacred'…one of Steve Harley's worst songs????? Come off it. I know people have different views and tastes when it comes to music, but for me this has got to be one of his best songs alongside the Coast of Amalfi and Journey's End from Steve Harley's brand new cd 'The Quality of Mercy'. How about a review of that one and his 'Poetic Justice' cd from 1996.


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Heleen den Haan <> (05.11.2005)

Amazing to read this review. I happen to think Face to Face is the best live album I've ever heard... from anyone. It still gives me goosebumps everytime, makes me wish I could have been there at the time.


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