Steve Harley back with fine new set of songs
By Andrew Thomas
Stranger Comes To Town: Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel (Comeuppance)
Steve Harley albums do not come along all that often - about every five or six years is the norm.
For a long-term fan like me, then, a new set of Harley originals is always a time of anticipation.
Although well into his fifties, Harley - whose biggest hits came in the period 1973-76 - can always surprise me and that's the case on Stranger Comes To Town.
The album opens brightly with the poppy Faith And Virtue and then comes the pulsing and driving Take The Men And The Horses Away, which I'm sure would be a great track in live performance.
For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn. is a sad song which carries Harley's trademark acoustic lilt, complete with well-chosen piano chords and a keening electic violin refrain.
The title track, the hearteflt Stranger Comes To Town, highlights Harley's vical strength but needs a bit more pace for me.
Better - and probably the album's best track - is This Old Man. It's another slow song but recalls such 70s glories as Best Years Of Our Lives and Tumbling Down.
A cover of True Love Will Find You In The End does not excite but then comes track seven - No Bleeding Hearts. What a strange and brooding song this is. It was always hard to decipher the meaning of Harley's lyrics in his Cockney Rebel heyday and this number - with its 'No hope' refrain - defies interpretation.
Blinded With Tears and the Springsteen-like Before They Crash The Universe lack a bit of light and shade but the final track - 2,000 Years From Now - prophesies a world destroyed by man and features a school choir, which adds to the pathos.
Overall this is a striking set with three or four standout tracks - a welcome album from an innovative writer and performer.