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Miles, John - 1976 Rebel

ARTIST: Miles, John
ALBUM: Rebel
LABEL: Decca
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1987, Deram (UK), 820 080-2


LINEUP: John Miles - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer * Barry Black - drums, percussion * Bob Marshall - bass * Phil Kenzine - sax

TRACK LISTING: 01 Music * 02 Everybody Wants Some More * 03 Highfly * 04 You Have It All * 05 Rebel * 06 When You Lose Someone So Young * 07 Lady Of My Life * 08 Pull The Damn Thing Down * 09 Music (Reprise)


Decca Records in their goofy wisdom decided John Miles needed an image after signing with the label. For some reason they thought his hair was too long and needed to be cut - 1950's James Dean style. Making matters worse, they dressed him in a leather jacket and a rifle on his shoulders drenched in an eerie piss yellow for the album cover. To this day, I'll never fully understand why anyone agreed to this visual travesty since Miles music was far from rebellious released in the year that gave the world punk rock, but fortunately the tunes rose above the questionable packaging. Produced by Alan Parsons and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, 'Rebel' is an amazing pop rock album and the critics of the day agreed and in true British style 'Melody Maker' touted Miles as the next big thing.

The Songs
In my opinion there are very few albums from 1976 that hold up as well as 'Rebel'. Every cut is a winner and opening with 'Music' was a stroke of genius. Elton John meets The Moody Blues on this big UK hit with brilliant orchestration and a delightful melody, the sound is trademark Alan Parsons and in the hands of any other producer, 'Music' would have probably not have turned out quite as well. Naturally, I can't resist the Paul McCartney styled bounce of 'Everybody Wants Some More' reducing me to nothing more than a puddle and with 'Highfly' I am blissfully held captive in musical nirvana with a song very similar to Pilot and their evergreen 'Magic' with a bonus dash of Queen - like pomposity. With the first three songs alone I would have given 'Rebel' my highest recommendation but yes, it gets even better. 'You Have It All' and the title track would have dovetailed nicely into any early Alan Parsons Project album and even though 'When You Lose Someone So Young' is a blatant attempt at 10cc's classic sound with Miles sounding like an Eric Stewart clone, it's just too damn good to resist. It's the same story with 'Lady Of My Life'; again 10cc is the main point of reference with a little Stevie Wonder sunny soul for some added spice. 'Pull The Damn Thing Down' is a nice bookend to 'Music', although some might be thrown off by the Ian Anderson inspired vocals, yet it shows just how versatile Miles was as a vocalist. 'Music (Reprise)' appropriately closes this amazing set of songs that still leaves this reviewer breathless.

In Summary
OK, too much hyperbole on my part? Maybe so but I'm a fan and over the years I went through two copies of 'Rebel' on LP as well as just replacing my old Decca CD with the Lemon label's recent issue that includes two bonus tracks. While Miles 'Transition' album understandably attracts more attention from our readership with its traditional 80's melodic rock sound, for my money it's 'Rebel' and his following three albums 'Stranger In The City', 'Zaragon' and 'More Miles Per Hour' that I rank as his very best, each belonging in any serious collection.

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#1 | Nick C on November 04 2008 23:23:35
I grabbed this album a couple of years ago at a ridiculously low price, mainly for the fantastic Music which was a song I loved from being a young fella and which still sends shivers down my back to this day, and Highfly. It's a fine album no doubt...I should really grab some more of his works.
#2 | trillion1999 on October 08 2011 03:49:16
POMP-Masterpiece! Very happy to have an autographed cover with poster love
#3 | swazi on November 22 2011 23:05:41
Another classic release and one that brings back many great memories. Ahhh ...! Driving to the "Cape of good Hope" in South Africa, enjoying the landscape and screaming "Music was my first Love!"! LOL!

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