STEVE HARLEY & COCKNEY REBEL : THE QUALITY OF MERCY
Label : Gott Discs
Released : November 15, 2005
Length : 44:45
Review (Wikipedia) : The Quality of Mercy is a studio album from English rock band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. Led by Steve Harley, the band's line-up consisted of new musicians compared to the last Cockney Rebel album.The album was released on CD in the UK and Norway only, through Gott Discs, whilst Pinnacle Records handled the album's distribution within the UK. The album failed to make the Top 200 in the UK, although it did make an appearance on the Norwegian albums chart, peaking at #40. A total of two singles were released from the album, with the main one being "The Last Goodbye" which peaked at No. 186 in the UK in early 2006. The other single "A Friend for Life" was released four years earlier in 2001 as a stand-alone release, where it peaked at No. 125 in the UK. Soon after the album's release, Harley embarked on a UK 30+ date tour to promote the album. Never available to download – the album remains only available on CD. The album's title is based on the Shakespearean phrase. Produced entirely by Harley, except for "A Friend for Life" which was produced by both Harley and ex-Cockney Rebel guitarist Jim Cregan, the album was recorded at Gemini Recording Studios in Ipswich and was mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering. During March 2005, Harley's official website revealed that the album was due for a September release, and that the songs were currently being fine-tuned at a studio in Suffolk, and were almost ready for mixing. Both Harley and his regular touring band worked many long days in a Pro-tools studio in Suffolk for a number of weeks. Additionally, it was noted that Manfred Esser would be shooting a cover photo at a session in Cologne, Germany, in April. The cover photograph ended up being taken by Mick Rock. In an interview with icLiverpool, a month before the album's release, Harley stated that he had some sudden flashes of inspiration when writing the new album. "Suddenly that inspiration is there and you go for broke – I managed to write seven or eight songs in about a month." In a Record Collector Interview with Nick Dalton during June 2005, Harley was asked what was new with his music and Harley replied "My first DVD is out and I'm recording The Quality of Mercy. I don't know if it'll ever be like the first Cockney Rebel, when I had a thousand ideas, but I felt like I'm 22 again." Noted to have been Harley's most personal album yet, the songs on the album have lyrics which recall the past, as well as looking forward to the future. In the Brighton Argus of 1 October 2005, Harley revealed "In the past, I never exposed myself. I always couched my meaning in metaphor and allegory. But now I've had enough of covering up. So the songs are more explicit. There's blood in these tracks. I like to please people, I don't like rejection. But with this album, I've written it for me. Not to get hit records, please the music company or even the fans, just for me. And I can honestly say I've used everything I've been given. This is what I want people to remember me for. Not just "Make Me Smile." On Harley's official website at the time, it was reported that at his "An Audience With....." show in Stamford, Lincolnshire, Harley revealed his own feelings with the way the work has developed. He stated "I am making a record that pleases me - I can only hope it then pleases lots of other people, including the critics. We have a wild drum sound on the rocky tracks and the lyrics are flowing once again. I am very, very excited about this project. The band have looked at me as though I'm mad, when I've put forward certain production ideas, but they've come to accept now that sometimes the safe way is not necessarily the best way forward. "Journey's End (A Father's Promise)" was written when Harley's son left home. "The Last Feast" is a candid, eight-verse track which recalls Harley's near-fatal contraction of childhood polio. In the Brighton Argus of 1 October 2005, In the Brighton Argus, Harley commented "I was in Brighton. My mum was in hospital in London giving birth and my sister and I were sent to stay at my gran's in Hangleton Road. I could barely walk. When I returned to London, my dad said, 'Steve isn't right'. It was diagnosed as flu but my dad took me to hospital and I was found to be dying. That's why I sing the line, 'I've been dreaming I'm in paradise.' It's cathartic to sing about it." "The Last Feast" had been initially released in 2002 as a live version on Harley's live acoustic album Acoustic and Pure: Live, and with another live version appearing on the 2004 album Anytime! (A Live Set). Both "A Friend For Life" and "Saturday Night at the Fair were also familiar with concert-going fans before the album's release. In an October 2008 interview on songwriting and poetry, Harley spoke of the structure of "The Coast of Amalfi", saying: "I have written several songs with no middle-eight, no discernable bridge, and even no chorus, per se. Try 'The Coast Of Amalfi' on my most recent CD. Narrative can be more interesting to a listener, but the story must hold their attention if no chorus appears for them to hum along to." Later in 2008, Hans Peter Janssens, a Belgian musical actor, recorded a cover of Harley's 1973 Cockney Rebel song "Sebastian" in Italian after Harley gave him permission to do the song in a new arrangement. It was produced by Bjorn Dobbelaere, and was released as a single in March 2008. Following on from this song, Jannsens would perform another of Harley's songs in Italian, "The Coast Of Amalfi" ("La Costa Di Amalfi"). However this time Janssens' version featured Harley as a duet, with Janssens singing in Italian, over Harley's English-language "shadow vocal".