Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

Desert Island Discs: VOTE STEVE

Here are Steve's choices:

Visions of Johanna – Bob Dylan – Solving the mystery would keep me occupied for hours and days, as it has for the last 54 years. “The ghost of ‘lectricity howls in the bones of her face, where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place…”

Violin Concerto, Opus 33 – Carl Nielsen -Yehudi Menuhin, violin, with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1952, Prelude – I defy anyone with a soul to listen and not weep as the genius Menuhin places Blackbirds and Thrushes among the symphonic forest Nielsen envisaged and not reach for a tissue

Lost Myself – Me – When Martin Simpson begins his slide guitar solo, my heart melts. The song is a desperate Cri de Coeur which I truly wish I had written. The quartet, scored by Thomas Tol, is brilliantly sensitive and rips me up. It might be my finest hour, the Uncovered album. It’s not for me to judge, but I have my feelings.

Make Me Smile – Me again – I wouldn’t play it often, but I’d always know I created something  that is wildly populist, but genuinely artful , and that’s a difficult thing to do in the Arts World.

Every Time We Say Goodbye – Ella Fitzgerald – “But how strange the change from major to minor…” There are good songwriters, and there are great songwriters, and then there is Cole Porter

Henryk Górecki - Symphony No. 3, Op. 36  - The contra-basses begin so deep that you struggle to hear them. Eventually a theme is clear, a gem emerges from the muddy morass. A sweeping brush of strings carries us off to the Polish death camps. At times, this piece is too evocative and stirring for me to finish. I weep and yield. Coronavirus? The Polish and many others faced worse. The young, the innocent and the Godly.  The Almighty may yet be with us. The soprano on the YouTube recording with the composer in attendance, is from a special place. Listen and ask yourself.

T.S. Eliot reciting The Waste Land” – No body has ever read it better. It’s dull. He was a bank manager. But it has his voice, the authenticity. The expression can be trusted.

Watermelon In Easter Hay, from Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa – Nobody ever played electric guitar like Zappa. David Gilmour is as close as I’ve found. In 9/4 time, this piece is both jazz and blues. But unlike blues players, Zappa seldom bends a string. He cries “come with me” at every turn. He seems not to repeat a lick or chop for the whole nine-minute piece. It is a masterpiece in composition and class. The musicians must have felt privileged to be there with him that day. Vinnie Colaiuta sat on the kit as though wearing comfortable slippers.  Zappa’s Gibson SG growls and sings sweetly in turn. The average guitarist, some believing in their own talent, must listen and plead for guidance from a higher place. This is guitar playing at its most sublime. I mourn his loss on a weekly basis. Or more.

•    Stinkfoot, from Apostrophe – Frank Zappa – Because it contains the second greatest guitar solo in the history of the universe, plus it is witty. If I need to drop one, you decide.

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