Ignored Obscured Restored
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel enjoyed considerable success in the UK throughout the ‘70s, notching four Top 10 singles there. Here in the US, he only charted once. “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” reached #96 here in 1975. And that is the SotW.
After charting a couple of Top 10 singles (#5 “Judy Teen” and #8 “Mr. Soft”), original band members John Crocker (fiddle), Milton Reame-James (keyboards), and Paul Jeffreys (bass) held a mutiny over publishing royalties. They wanted to contribute to the songwriting and Harley told them their songs weren’t good enough. So they quit. The incident motivated Harley to write “Make Me Smile…”
You’ve done it all
You’ve broken every code
And pulled the rebel to the floor
You spoiled the game
No matter what you say
For only metal, what a bore
Reame-James and Jeffreys joined Bill Nelson in Be-Bop Deluxe which inspired that last line.
There’s nothing left
All gone and run away
Maybe you’ll tarry for a while
It’s just a test
A game for us to play
Win or lose, it’s hard to smile
In the end, you would have to say Harley won the battle. He recruited a new band and “Make Me Smile…” soared to #1 – the Top of the Pops!
In 2015, the song charted in the UK again at #72. Now how did that happen? As it turns out, Harley was fined £1,000 when he was caught travelling at 70 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. Jeremy Clarkson, then host of the BBC’s motoring programme Top Gear, was outraged by the fine so he encouraged all of his viewers to download “Make Me Smile…” to help Harley pay for it. It worked!
Enjoy… until next week.