The first track is "Music" and is only one of two tracks, on the album, penned by John without Bob. Melody Maker said that "Music is a dynamite track, one of those tunes you find yourself humming and loving - then hating for its familiarity." In a way I believe Music is John Miles albatross, the one song he is pigeon holed with against which all his other work is measured.
"Everybody wants some More" is more often than not referred to as reminiscent of the early Kinks or the Beatles. My view is of the latter with its "multi-flavoured vocals and good tempo changes" per Jester with touches of "Yellow Submarine" (megaphone effects) per Melody maker.
"You have it all" was described by Rolling Stone as bathing "Yes-styled modal fragments in lush orchestration. I have no idea what that means but I like it.
"Rebel" & "Highfly" have already been touched on. However, Rolling Stone states "Rebel dramatically interposes a Tango for electric guitar and synthesiser with a string quartet." While Melody Maker called it " a chunky, beefy scorcher."
"When You Lose Someone So Young" is a very strong track lyrically. As such some reviewers have criticised it for too much backing as it could be a stand out song with just an acoustic guitar. While I do not wholeheartedly agree I can see the point especially as it would have made it a contrast to the rest of the album. There are shades of fellow Geordie Alan Price and also Elton John in this song.
"Lady of My Life" makes me think of Stevie Wonder, who I know is one of John's musical influences. This was also picked up upon by almost every review I have read. It is "softy and delicate" to quote Melody Maker and there is a terrific sax solo by Phil Kenzie. It is the 2nd song written solely by John and it is beautiful. I think he probably wrote it for his wife, Eileen.
"Pull the Damn Thing Down" is apparently reminiscent of the Kinks per Record World. I agree with Melody Makers view that it "His guitar solo is a killer, refreshingly lacking in clichés". Earlier in their review they describe the track as "a blazing commentary on the pollution of the environment by the architectural planners". I am sure that I have read that one of the influences for this song was his own background as his parents live in the High Street in Jarrow, an industrial town in the North East of England, where there was a lot of redevelopment.
Hopefully the impression I have given you was that there were few criticisms of Rebel or of John and plenty praise and expectation of great things to come. His biography at the time placed him with the "new" songwriters of the time, Leo Sayer and David Essex as well as noting similarities with established British songwriters, Bowie and Elton. Even Noel Edmonds, in his time as a BBC Radio 1 DJ had Rebel as his album of the week. Billboard magazine said, "Miles could potentially fill the gap that has long existed between some of the more electronic rockers and AM play". Almost as an after thought they ended with "Good guitarist as well". What an understatement!!
So it got good write-ups. But did it sell? For a debut album it did really well peaking at number 9. In the states for a time it was retitled "Highfly" after his first hit but did not match its UK success. One of John's prize possessions is the gold disc he received (presented to him by Jimmy Saville a UK disc jockey) for the sales achieved.
Stephen A Carson

I won't give a very detailed appraisal (unlike some of the amazing submissions!), but suffice it to say that I think the whole album is excellent, especially as a debut album. My choices are very much dictated by the fact that I'm a guitarist - in fact when I met JM last year, I made a point of telling him that he is my single biggest musical influence! He possesses all the musical qualities and skills that I admire most and wish I had!
My favourite track is "Pull The Damn Thing Down" - the guitar break is superb, creative and melodic. In fact, almost all of JMs breaks are real melodies rather than some guitarists' repeated riffs (which to me indicates a lack of musical creativity). I also love the orchestration, and the whole sentiment of the lyric is one I can empathise with: progress which trashes peoples' lives in the process isn't really progress at all, and people should always be the most important "things" in life.
Second favourite would have to be "Rebel" itself, because of the strident beat, the very effective guitar parts, and the stark contrast of the strings! "Don't call me a loser - call me a rebel!" Yes - I can definitely identify with that sentiment, and how!
Third would be "When You Lose Someone So Young", which JM seems to have performed quite often over the years. I love the contrast in the quality of his voice, gentle at the start and then harder edged in the chorus. Does anyone actually have the definitive pronoucement as to what Bob Marshall wrote this one about?
Trying to pick three favourites is very hard! Obviously "Music" is legendary, but as others have already said, it's also become JMs millstone around his musical neck. Why can't people look beyond the track? And why is it that they can't realise that anyone who can play a lead break like that, with those lovely triplets (the high twiddly bit!), as well as all the piano stuff, and the crystal clear voice, must be one heck of a musician?
I love the guitar bits on "You Have It All", so much so that I learnt to play it, and very effective it is too - I just wish there was more of a lead break at some point, as it would require quite a creative melody and tempo!
I also love the variations in JMs voice on "Everybody Wants Some More" - very effective also.
All in all, a great debut, and an album I never tire of listening to - but (dare I say it?...) I wouldn't choose it as my ultimate fav of JMs albums, as I think he went on to even bigger and better things! (Don't all shoot at once!)
By the way, the B Side of the "Music" single? "Putting My New Song Together" is on the CD of "Stranger In The City" but has never appeared on any vinyl that I'm aware of other than that single: it's a cracking track too, in my opinion! I learnt the whole thing, including the voicebox guitar solo.
Bimal Jangra

Hi there everyone. Here is my review of music from "Rebel" . When I can free myself up next week I will do a shorter review of the other tracks but Im sure you will all agree this track deserves a review on its own.
Music - possibly the greatest (make that definitely) greatest song ever written. In my opinion it eclipses even the mighty Bohemian rhapsody by Queen. This piece, which was allegedly thrown together in a boarding house in Leeds in twenty or so minutes at an old piano in the dining room, (I knew that one day something good would come from Leeds , a MUFC fan) is an amazing epic of 5 minutes 50 seconds long (depending on the version) .
John opens the vocals singing in a high register before going into into an instrumental segment which is written in the highly unusual 7/4 time sequence. This is the only record that has ever charted in the UK which uses this beat as a primary part of the song. Even many people who know the song will still put an additional beat into the song when humming or playing it. The bass also follows a different note pattern from the main melody. If you listen carefully it drops down to C which gives it that thick sound.
The guitar solo is actually a very simple but effective octave to octave affair which I have seen played very badly by numerous guitarists but I have seen John play it three different ways note perfect (presumably he gets bored ) The orchestral middle section of the song is stunning, managing to combine the old world classical with contemporary rock progressions. The final piano led instrumental section is a brilliant "clap along" affair which I always thinks sounds better with the additional guitarist live rocking it up a bit rather than John doubling up on piano. The final climatic repeat of the lyric always strikes a chord with me.I always believe music should move you. I am always shocked by the fact that in spite of hearing this record several hundred times and having played it in my band probably more than that, it still lifts me and gives me a feeling of elation like no song I have ever heard before.
This is also true of audiences in general. The song is so strong that bands can play it live and really kill it and it still goes down well. A sure sign of a classic
I still firmly believe that this song came too soon in John's career. He didn't need it, Highfly the previous single was a hit in late 1975, "Music" peaked in the UK charts April 1976 (how did it do in Germany , USA, Australia etc.?)
I believe that to write and perform and then release a classic such as this so early in ones career defines the individual and their talent too soon. It is for this reason John in some quarters is referred to as a "One hit wonder" . For me it should have been played live and then released by popular demand on the traditional difficult second album. I still maintain that John sounds bored when introducing the number and he has mixed feelings about it. John "music" Miles, as he is often referred to, may be too big a pill even for a man of Johns Talent.
Mark Burgess

Music is one of those tracks that is synonymous with its artist. Most people only know JM by reference to this track. It is often listed, as Music (is my first love) which irritates me no end. It is a superb song sung with so much emotion. I almost feel disappointed to learn that it was knocked together in 20 minutes. I had always imagined it as a labour of love, Ah well! A song that I have never heard done well live, due I guess to the lack of an orchestral backing.
The best track by far on the Rebel album is You Have It All. It begins slowly with a gradual introduction of instruments and then blasts into action it then drives on and on stopping only for a clever little percussion break. I can play it over and over
I have heard Rebel described as a classic track. I have heard the same said of Stranger in the City. Maybe its because they are the title tracks. Neither do much for me beyond being songs to listen to.
When You Lose Someone So Young confused me for many years. Was it about losing a young child, or was it about a broken teenage romance. I finally settled on the latter on the basis that if it were the former then the line "Shake yourself loose from the chip on your shoulder and forget the price you paid" would be a little insensitive (as would be my comments here if it is the former!).
Lady Of My Life is sooo laid back. I guess we can all relate to the sentiment at sometime in our lives. Nice bit of Sax.
Pull The Damn Thing Down always stands out for its guitar solo but the sentiment in the lyric stand the test of time. I have listened to this track countless times but it was only comparatively recently that I actually deciphered some of the lyrics "and either side we'll beautify with concrete reaching to the sky". It so clear now I can only guess that I didn't bother to listen properly in the first place. I have heard Pull The Damn Thing Down live a couple of times and it was fantastic but it always seemed that it was a struggle to finish it cleanly.
I love the way that Music Reprise follows it gives a fantastic upbeat end to the album which makes you want to play it over again but feel the mix is a little messy.
All the other songs I like. The album works for me. A good album can be difficult to listen to if the track order is not well thought out
John Taylor

Since "Music" is predominant here and will probably be first on everyone's list, I suggest we (or at least I) list 4 of our favorites from Rebel.
After, "Music", my first fav. is "Rebel." Nifty arrangement with the violins and a bit of grit in the voice.
"When You Lose Someone so Young" is second on my list. It struck an emotional chord with me on first listening. I lost my first husband at 26, and this is a wonderful song for me. Touching and upbeat in one.
"Highfly" would be my third choice - mainly for the guitar and energy. This was a difficult choice, because "Everybody Wants Some More" is so great. Is it my imagination or do I hear a little Pablo Cruise in that arrangement? (If so, Pablo did the thieving, as I believe they came a bit later)
Jean Hickman

Music obviously is a great song and still sounds fabulous today and will live on for many many years as an absolute classic. The production adds to the song and it deserved a better commercial outing. Being critical (don't shoot me), on the whole the album doesn't seem to gel. Perhaps this is because of the standout nature of Music, the other songs feel secondary and disjointed. I feel that John sings at too high a pitch for most of the time. But having said that it is still listenable when you take into account it is now 24 years old.
After Music, I like You Have It All. It is upbeat and still plays well today.
Thirdly, Highfly, is a song that's easy to listen to and sounds commercial enough to be remembered.
Steven McIlveen

I am a flower child, a hippie of the 70’s generation. I like the rock music from the 70’s era (I guess they are called ‘oldies’ now even though it only seems like yesterday). I also like orchestra music. I enjoy the sounds of the combination of many instruments playing in harmony and creating a wonderful, powerful sound. When I stumbled across this album it quickly caught my attention since it was a combination of rock and orchestra music.
I was a lucky hippie because after I graduated from high school, I landed a job as a clerk in a music store. The second most fun part of this job was getting to listen to all types of music (the first most fun part I will relate to you later). Whenever we received a new shipment of records (no such thing as CD’s back then) and tapes, we always received a stack of promotional albums to play in the store. The promotional albums, once played, were divvied out to the employees to take home for free. We loved those promo albums.
We always had something playing while we were working. I would not say it was background music because we would blast that entire side of the mall with music to match our moods (unless the mall manager was seen stomping up the way with an angry expression).
Early in 1976, we received our shipment and several new promos. As we were looking through the promos (like vultures….”That one is MINE.” “I claim THAT ONE.”) I bypassed and tossed aside an album that looked to me like redneck-city. It had a picture of this man on the front holding a rifle across his shoulders. Next to him was the word “REBEL”. I thought, “I don’t like country music that much, so Susie can have this one.” When I set this album aside my manager picked it up and said, “You should listen to this. I know that you will like it.” So I pull the cellophane off and put this album on the turntable.
After listening to the first song I look at my manager and say “This one is MINE.” This album, Rebel by John Miles has been my favorite album since that day. The album starts out with only John Miles singing. No instruments are playing, only his beautiful voice singing these words:

Music is my first love.
And it will be my last.
Music of the future.
And Music of the past.
Then the orchestra falls in. No, the orchestra does not fall in….the orchestra pounces on you. It is absolutely soul moving. There is a strong, orchestrated segment before John Miles begins singing again, reminding us of his love for music ending the song with:

"To live without my music
Would be impossible to do.
Cause in this world of troubles
My music gets me through.”
The entire album consists of a combination of Mr. Miles singing to us his observations of life, and then the perfectly matched accentuation of music to emphasize the point he has just made – sometimes the music is orchestral arrangements performed by Andrew Powell, and other times it is John Miles’ rock. The following are the songs he has written and recorded for this album. The first four songs (side one) are some very nice songs but have great musical segments, but I must say that side two is the side of the album that I have worn thin from playing over and over, and over, and over….well, o.k., I will hush.


This is the first song on the album and I already discussed it above. Obviously Mr. Miles loves his music. The words I have written above are the entire song – aside from the instrumental.
The other three songs on this side talk about how people always want more - more things than the other guy has, how people are struggling to ‘reach the sky’, and what do you do when you ‘have it all’. The names of these songs summarize the point Mr. Miles is making:

Everybody Wants Some More
Highfly, Touch the Sky

(I thoroughly enjoy the instrumental portion of this song. The instrumental part makes this song well worth listening to as you can picture the people hustling and bustling around.)

You Have It All

This is the worn thin side.

John Miles is singing about himself. He sees himself as a rebel against so many of the things humanity stands for. The words tell us to “Call me a loser, call me a rebel” because he does not conform to the existence that most of us live. The stringed instruments in this song are played by The Maggini Quartet and are performed beautifully.
When You Lose Someone So Young

This is the first song that is mostly singing and very little instrumental. This song is very emotional since it relates an obvious tragic loss in John Miles life and how he has tried to get over it. This song became even more meaningful to me this year as I lost my 17 year-old nephew in January and I can feel every word he is singing.

He sings:

“When you lose someone so young, how do you start again?
You want to run and hide from the world outside,
Lock yourself in you don’t know where to begin….
It multiplies the pain. . . .
Yes I know how it feels, It just don’t seem real
When you lose someone so young.”
Lady of My Life

A love song. Mr. Miles sings about the lady that he loves, asking her to stay with him. There is a beautiful saxophone solo in this song performed by Phil Kenzie.
“Pull the Damn Thing Down”

Oh yes, John Miles loves construction. This is a very sarcastic song accompanied with rock music. No orchestra music here. I compare this song to Lynard Skynard’s ‘Free Bird’ piece. If anyone likes the long version of ‘Free Bird’, he will also enjoy this piece. “Pull the Damn Thing Down” is the longest song on the album (seven minutes and seventeen seconds long) and I relish every second that it is playing. He starts with song:

Pull the damn thing down. We’re gonna build a highway.
Right beside we’ll beautify, with concrete reaching to the sky.
Pull the damn thing down.
Soon you won’t remember,
Cause all the people turn their backs, on cobblestones and
Chimney stacks…..Pull the damn thing down.

Then he enters a small taste of his expertise on the guitar…just to tease you with what is coming next. Mr. Miles sings a bit more and then the remainder is the musical segment that reminds me of Free Bird, only better. One piece of advise when listening to ‘Pull the Damn Thing Down’….either listen to it at home or have the cruise control in your car turned on because as the music speeds up, I found my foot getting heavier on the accelerator.
The end of "Pull the Damn Thing Down" is mixed perfectly in with the last song of the album - which is a replay of the first song "Music". Mr. Miles reminds us again that
"to live without my music, would be impossible to do. Cause in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through."
Ah, I miss those days of working at the record shop. This had to be my most fun job of all. Blaring the music, introducing new music to the customers (and making that sale), outsmarting the mall manager, are some of the things that I miss. But mostly I miss the “bending over double with laughter” we would have when a customer put on the headphones to listen to and sing along with a single record. Whenever this happened, we would discretely turn our music off so that the entire store would be stone quiet, except for the customer singing. Most of the time they sounded like I would . . . squealing the words and terribly out of tune. But I had the prudence not to go there. I save my singing for riding in the car, alone, with John Miles in the tape deck.
Patricia Perkins

1) Music - well how can one review this. It is quite unique, not only on this album, but in the whole of John's repertoire. This is not the greatest performance, in my opinion the live Night of the Proms surpasses it, but must stand out as my number one.
2) When You Lose Someone So Young comes second, a haunting melody, a brilliant vocal rendition. John's voice has that ethereal quality on this track essential to the lyrics.
3) Pull The Damn Thing Down is a terrific observation on modern life, starting quite gently, getting more and more angry as it progresses, with moments of despair, not just the voice, but the guitar as well. The final minutes of guitar solo just build right up to the transition into the reprise of Music.
4) Lady Of My Life is a very interesting track, with the total lack of any reverberation in the voice. This suits the lyric admirably, although I am not too sure about the rapid fading of the guitar between channels, a bit disturbing on headphones. A lovely melody though, with a gorgeous sax interlude.
This album was a very good start as a first offering, but I feel that it was not until the next album that John's true potential began to emerge.
John Webster

1 Pull the Damn Thing Down- great guitar solo, good message and the merge into Music reprise creates a wonderful finale to a classic album
2 You Have it All- Loads of pace, one I can't play without drumming on anything close to hand, when played live it featured a guitar solo at the end which was just stunning, shame it is not actually played on the LP
3 Music- The one that really started it all off. A complete rock Symphony in just 5 minutes. How could anyone fail to like this song, an everlasting classic.
4 The rest of the LP, I could not choose one song over another, because they are all so good!
Richard Townsend

Having taken note of John's comments a couple of days ago regarding past album reviews, I've put my bunch together. As there are so many I haven't commented on the individual tracks (I'd be at it for hours), so with no further ado the run down is as follows:-
1) Music
2) Lady of my Life
3) Highfly
4) When You Lose Someone So Young
Zoë Pinchin

1) Music
2) Pull The Damn Thing Down
3) Highfly
4) You Have It All
Chris Greenwood

I have mixed feelings for this album, some excellent (my first 2 would be in my all time favourites, but the rest I do not have strong preference for
1) When You Lose Someone So Young
2) Music
3) Everybody Wants Some More
4) You Have It All
Neil Martlan

1) You Have It All
2) Pull The Damn Thing Down
3) Everybody Wants Some More
4) Highfly
Malcolm Leeves

1) Music
2) Pull The Damn Thing Down
3) When You Lose Someone So Young
4) You Have It All
Dan McVeigh