Cockney Rebel is a UK rock band of different variables that peaked in the 70’s. The bands reputation for forming and reforming seemed to cause confusion rather than enhance the group’s image with the characteristic instrumental line up at one point including electric violin, mandolin and a Fender Rhodes digital piano sound. The height of success for Cockney Rebel saw music of different genres crossing with Steve Harley’s eccentric personality and a repertoire that included signature hit ‘’Make Me Smile’’. Despite its success as a backdrop for screen showings from film to advertising, the glam rock title beholds a more sinister undertone as Harley’s carefree image veiled a darker story of mutinous rebels – cockney or otherwise.
Cockney Rebel – Covers By The Score
Written by frontman Steve Harley in 1975, the iconic track ‘’Make Me Smile’’ has been covered by artists by the score including Duran Duran and Erasure. The song’s condemning lyrics however, behold a story of Harley’s anger towards past members for bailing out on him and leaving not just the acoustic guitarist playing solo! The opening verse lyrics speak of ‘’code breaking’’, ‘’game spoiling’’ and ‘’so many lies’’ softly tinged with strummed chords and ‘’bah bah’’ backing vocals. The chorus is a kinder beast taking its cue from the title:
Dm F C Dm F C
‘’Come up and see me, make me smile. I’ll do what you want, running wild’’.
The middle eight beholds a legendary ethereal acoustic guitar solo backed graciously by a serene Hammond organ sound played on the digital piano. The return to the final verse sees the organ backing taking a more dominant role as Steve Harley leads his Cockney Rebel band homewards to the final fade.
Behind The Painted Smile
After a hiatus of some years and time to review his antics, Steve Harley is back as a Cockney Rebel with a cause. As recently as October 2012 he fronted a recording engaging his band members, full symphony orchestra and choir to record the band’s first two albums in their entirety at the BBC Symphony Hall in Birmingham. The one-off-live was a sell-out and brought renewed energy to a man who had felt so slighted all those years before. Steve Harley still is – a Cockney Rebel with a cause.