Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Tomorrow Belongs to Me (1975): Forgotten Series

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“Gather around, boys and girls” is a phrase well-known to fans of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, who might actually be the best of the great lost rock ‘n’ roll acts of the ’70s. They blended elements of contemporary hard rock with old school R&B and non-rock covers, and played them with a sensibility that straddled glam, punk, performance art and vaudeville.

At center stage was the Scottish-born Alex Harvey, equal parts circus ringleader, delinquent, superhero, street person, pirate, school teacher and troubadour — all distilled into one rock ‘n’ roll singer, complete with Scottish accent. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was the band he fronted when he was nearly 40 years old, which even back then was pretty late in the day for anyone still waiting for their big break in the music biz.

The group did manage a decent six-year run at the charts, recording albums, touring and making numerous TV appearances, but made only a moderate impression in the important U.S. market.

Tomorrow Belongs to Me, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s fourth album, is considered to be one of their best. Recorded in 1975, it contains all the elements they had become known for on their previous studio offerings.

There’s the easy R&B characterized by “Soul in Chains.” There’s the edgy rock of “Give My Compliments to the Chef.” There’s even a straightforward reading of the title track “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a song which had recently appeared in the popular 1972 movie Cabaret. This led some to mistakenly believe that Harvey, a staunch pacifist, was promoting Nazism, a charge to which he replied: “More lives have been changed by a Fender Telecaster than an AK-47.”

And then there’s “The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater.” This parodies the sort of multi-part progressive rock epic in vogue during the mid-1970s, executed with a precision worthy of any of Frank Zappa’s genre-jumping sound collages. Lyrical images rush by as quickly as the musical changes take place: “Another tree dies of shame. Hamburgers at the barn dance tonight. Rain on Tuesdays, Thursdays guaranteed dry.” Like many of the SAHB’s oddball pieces, upon repeated listens it actually starts making sense.

The Sensational Alex Harvey band broke up in 1978, and Alex Harvey himself passed away just one day shy of his 47th birthday in 1982. But he left behind a legacy that includes Tomorrow Belongs to Me: Through memory, perhaps tomorrow really did belong to him after all.

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
JC Mosquito
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