In 1975 John Miles put out what I think is probably the most clichéd and retarded pop song about being a musician that has ever been written.
“Music” from his album Rebel was a huge hit in the UK and a minor hit in the states thanks to the over-the-top symphonic Abbey Road production and arrangements of Alan Parsons. The song has since become a guilty pleasure for some (including Guilty Pleasures, the club night in London) but I have always found it hard to move beyond that song, and further into his career. Luckily the same album includes the Pilot-esque track (yes, Alan Parsons produced Pilot too, I know) “Highfly”. Once again sporting that brilliant production work that Parsons brought to bands like Pink Floyd and The Beatles (Parsons did not produce The Beatles, but his experimental work as their engineer on albums like Abbey Road can be heard quite clearly).
John Miles continued to work with Parsons on numerous Alan Parsons Project albums as singer and guitarist, but for his next LP he chose Rupert Holmes as his producer. Holmes claim to fame would be his one hit wonder “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, but in the mid-seventies he was a producer extrordinaire working with such luminaries as Barbra Streisand (Lazy Afternoon), and Sparks (Big Beat).
Side Note: Rupert Holmes is also a Tony Award winning Broadway show writer. His first hit, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood won the Tony for best book and score. Recently he co-wrote the musical Curtains with John Kander (of Kander and Ebb, you know Cabaret…Chicago…) which just won the a Drama Desk Award and is seen as a shoe in for this years Tony.
For John Miles, Holmes produced the incredible Stranger In The City Lp of 1976. The album inlcudes the incredible title track, which has recently become a spacy cosmic disco staple due to the recent re-edit by Pilooski. Holmes signature sound of separating instruments in the mix until their clarity is nearly singular is all over the track. Even on the fast paced disco track “Slow Down” Holmes capably pulls apart the instrument during the break to make room for a rollicking Talk Box solo.
Rupert and John used these same values on their next album together 1977’s Zaragon, a concept album about, um, love during world destruction and Jack The Ripper. At least that’s what I came up with (oh, those tricky concept albums of the 70’s!). The first track, amply titled “Overture” rings in at 8 minutes and goes from piano ballad to studio rock to full on synthesized and symphonic anthem and back to piano ballade.
Miles, however couldn’t improve on success of his first two album, and soon would become a second tier artist who’s talents were used in tours behind the likes of Elton John, Tina Turner and Joe Cocker, while vocalizing for acts like Jimmy Page and APP.
Samples of John Miles first three albums, and the recent Pilooski Re-Edit of “Stranger In The City” can be found here.