The Candidate (album)

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The Candidate
The Candidate.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1979
RecordedFebruary 1979
GenrePop rock
ProducerSteve Harley, Jimmy Horowitz
Steve Harley chronology
Hobo with a Grin
The Candidate
The Best of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

The Candidate is the second solo studio album by British singer-songwriter Steve Harley released in 1979. It was produced by Harley and Jimmy Horowitz.


Having spent almost a year living in Los Angeles, during which time his debut solo album Hobo with a Grin was released, Harley returned to London at the end of 1978. In mid-November 1978, various UK music magazines reported that after returning to England at Christmas, Harley would form a new band, record a new album in February and plan a world tour for later in the year.[1] Speaking to the Daily Star in December 1978, he described Hobo with a Grin as "an experience", adding: "But this time I'll do things very differently. I'll get the band together, then record the album in a fortnight - the way I always used to."

The Candidate took three weeks to write, while recording took place during February at Abbey Road Studios. The entire album was also mixed and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, except mixing for "Freedom's Prisoner", which took place at Morgan Studios.[2] Afterwards, Harley began planning a British and European tour for later in the year. When talking of forming a new Cockney Rebel line-up, Harley commented to Daily Mirror's Pauline McLeod: "There will undoubtedly be some of the old group members of the group in the line-up. Maybe Jim Cregan could join up for it if he's not busy recording with Rod Stewart."

Speaking to Maggi Russell in early 1979, Harley revealed of the new album:

"I needed the energy that London has. West Coast musicians have done it all before, and they're very blase. Here people put their heart and soul into their music. Stuart Elliott and Jo Partridge from Cockney Rebel worked on the album with me. It's very important when you're spending 12 hours a day in the studio with a bunch of people that you get on well, that you share a sense of humour. Otherwise you all end up having a bad time. "Hobo with a Grin" was a difficult album, and hard to market. My new album leans back more to the early Cockney Rebel sound, a similar tempo, more commercial perhaps. I have made a record that I believe in. If the music press review it maturely I'll be glad, but that is doubtful. I'm really hoping for a good 1979, and I'm putting everything I've got into it. I'm back, and they are all going to know I am. You could spend a lot of time in this business getting affluent with success, but I'm more interested in my own sense of achievement. I hope my fans like it too."[3]

In an interview with The Evening News in October, Harley spoke of his return from America and the album's creation:

"I spent almost a full year out there and did nothing except swim and sunbathe and head for some party or other at night. I had a rented house in Beverley Hills – it was costing me about £300 a week and all I did was lie by the pool and have friends to stay at the guest house. I then realised that I was getting nowhere fast and booked London's Abbey Road studios for two months. I called my old Cockney Rebel drummer Stuart Elliott and asked him to put me a band together. I came back to London, and within about three weeks I had more than enough songs for an LP. I'm pleased with "The Candidate" – it's the best album I've done in ages."[4]

In May 1979, Harley appeared with Peter Gabriel at one of Kate Bush's Hammersmith Odeon concerts in May 1979. It was Harley's first performance on stage in two years.[5][6] Later in August, New Musical Express announced that Harley was currently bringing a touring band together and was in the middle of planning a British tour to follow the release of his new album.[7] In September, EMI released The Candidate, along with the single "Freedom's Prisoner". Despite predictions, The Candidate was a commercial failure, although "Freedom's Prisoner" did reach #58 in the UK Top 75 during October.[8] By this time, plans for a British tour were scrapped. Instead, Harley performed a one-off, sold-out show at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in October, with a new line-up of Cockney Rebel as his backing band.

Comparing The Candidate with Hobo with a Grin, Harley commented in his interview with The Evening News: "I looked at that LP the other day – looking is enough. I can't bear to listen to it. It's the worst thing I've ever done. I'm getting the old Cockney Rebel band together for a concert in London at the end of this month. And there won't be one song from the Hobo with a Grin LP in the set. But The Candidate is a different story altogether. After hours of deliberation, I've left out two songs from it and I hated doing that. There isn't a bad song on it."[4] Following the disappointing sales of The Candidate, EMI dropped Harley from their label. The album was his last studio album until the release of 1992's Yes You Can.[9]


The album was released on vinyl by EMI Records in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal.[10] The album's sleeve featured photography by Mick Rock. The photographs displayed on the back side of the sleeve were taken showing Harley and co. during the recording sessions of the album.[2]

Later in 2000, the album received its first CD release through EMI and Harley's own Comeuppance Discs label. It contained two bonus tracks; the 1982 non-album single "I Can't Even Touch You" and a live version of the 1974 Cockney Rebel song "Psychomodo".[2] On 6 October 2003, Voiceprint released the album on CD as a part of their "2 for One Series" along with Harley's 1992 album Yes You Can.[11] On 31 October 2011, The Candidate was digitally remastered and released on CD by BGO Records as a double album set with Hobo with a Grin.[12]


In the 20 October 1979 issue of Melody Maker, a full-page, black-and-white advert was published to promote the album's release, as well as the "Freedom's Prisoner" single. A music video was also filmed to promote the single.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[13]
24.000 Dischi (Italian Dalai editore book)2/5 stars[14]
Smash Hits5/10[15]
Q4/5 stars[16]
Record Collector2/5 stars[17]
Record Mirror4/5 stars[18]

Upon release, Red Starr of Smash Hits commented: "Harley's never fully developed talents have scraped rock bottom in recent years. Side one here is back to his stylish, tuneful, Cockney Rebel best, but side two is simply pedestrian Americanised blandness that provokes only weariness. A mixed up album from a mixed up man but all credit for returning to the fray." He considered "Audience with the Man" and "Freedom's Prisoner" to be the album's best tracks.[15] Mike Nicholls of Record Mirror praised the album in comparison to the "poor" Hobo with a Grin. He commented: "The Candidate shows Harley once again writing interesting and intelligent songs in a musical setting both contemporary and proficient. The honesty and unpretentious ingenuity of The Candidate should re-establish [him] as an artist working independently of current trends with a style and craftsmanship that easily transcends this or any other year's models."[18]

Aberdeen Press and Journal stated: "The Candidate finds Harley in fine form, vitriolic as ever."[19] Aberdeen Evening Express noted: "Steve's back with an album which puts him more in a conformist category rather than a (Cockney) rebel. But it's great all the same. Funny how he always manages to come up with at least three brilliant tracks on each album. This time it's "Audience with the Man", "Freedom's Prisoner" and "How Good It Feels". His lyrics and eloquent singing are still very much the Harley of old."[20]

Dave Thompson of AllMusic retrospectively wrote: "When "Freedom's Prisoner" hit the airwaves in fall 1979, it would have taken a lot to convince the longtime fan that the man hadn't resparked all his old glories again. It was Harley's finest 45 in half a decade. It was also a total fluke, as the accompanying album flopped onto the streets and proved itself to be little more than a clutch of substandard songs, glued together by alluring production alone. "Audience with the Man" and "From Here to Eternity" do bear repeated listens, but too much of The Candidate clung so lifelessly to the stylus that it was hard to believe our hopes had ever soared so high."[13]

Of the 2000 re-issue of the album, Q commented: "Despite Harley returning to Blighty, the splendid The Candidate sold so poorly that EMI dumped what four years previously had been their major act. "Freedom's Prisoner" deserved to be an enormous hit, "Woodchopper" rhymes 'editorial' with 'accusatorial', and the soul-baring "One More Time" ruminates lasciviously on being taken from behind the leopardesses. Time surely for a little readjustment of history."[21] Of the 2011 BGO double CD release of the album with Hobo with a Grin, Terry Staunton of Record Collector stated: "Harley's opening brace of releases not to feature the Cockney Rebel name took him ever further away from the glam/art rock of his chart past. Hobo with a Grin takes stabs at anything and everything. The following year's offering draws from just as big a notice board, but the musical thumbtacks are rarely strong enough to hold the ideas in place. "Audience with the Man" and "From Here to Eternity" suggest a love for early Springsteen, but with little of Bruce's energy or articulacy, "How Good It Feels" is passable Brit country, while "Freedom's Prisoners" sounds like synth-rock played by jet-lagged Cossacks."[17]

Track listing[edit]

1."Audience With the Man"Steve Harley5:38
3."Freedom's Prisoner"Harley, Jimmy Horowitz3:47
4."Love on the Rocks"Harley3:32
5."Who's Afraid?"Harley4:13
6."One More Time"Harley4:25
7."How Good It Feels"Harley4:07
8."From Here to Eternity"Harley5:08
9."Young Hearts (The Candidate)"Harley5:25
2000 Comeuppance Discs CD bonus tracks
10."I Can't Even Touch You"Harley4:00
11."Psychomodo (Live)"Harley3:37


  • Steve Harley – vocals, producer
  • Jo Partridge – guitar
  • Nico Ramsden – guitar, backing vocals
  • Phil Palmer – guitar
  • Joey Carbone – keyboards, backing vocals
  • Steve Gregory – saxophone, saxophone arrangement
  • John Giblin – bass
  • Stuart Elliott – drums
  • Bryn Haworth – mandolin (track 1)
  • The English Chorale – choir (track 3)
  • Robert Howes – choir director (track 3)
  • Yvonne Keeley – backing vocals
  • Jimmy Horowitz – producer (all tracks), celesta (track 2)
  • Mike Hedges – mixing (track 3)
  • Tony Clark – engineer (all tracks)
  • Haydn Bendall – assistant engineer (all tracks)
  • Chris Blair – mastering
  • Graham Marks – design (front cover lettering)
  • Mick Rock – front/back cover photography, design for TRA Studios Inc., art direction for TRA Studios Inc.
  • Ernie Thormahlen – design for TRA Studios Inc., art direction for TRA Studios Inc.
  • Richard Young – inner sleeve photography
  • Billyee – design (inner sleeve and album back jacket graphic and design) for Bine Graphic Designs Inc.
  • Neal Kandel – design (inner sleeve and album back jacket graphic and design) for Bine Graphic Designs Inc.


  1. ^ "Harley Returns". Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Steve Harley – The Candidate (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Return of the Rebel". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b "New Wave Rubbish". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  5. ^ "100 Things You Thought You Knew About Kate Bush". 9 February 1978. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Tour of Life". Kate Bush Encyclopedia. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Autumn Tour". Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Rees, Dafydd (1991). Rock movers & shakers – Dafydd Rees, Luke Crampton – Google Books. ISBN 9780874366617. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Steve Harley – The Candidate at Discogs". Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Candidates/Yes You Can (Limited Edition): Music". 6 October 2003. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Hobo with a Grin / The Candidate: Music". Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  13. ^ a b Dave Thompson. "Candidate – Steve Harley | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  14. ^ Bertoncelli, Riccardo; Thellung, Cris (2006). Ventiquattromila dischi. Guida a tutti i dischi degli artisti e gruppi piů ... – Google Books. ISBN 9788860181510. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  15. ^ a b Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (1–14 November 1979): 29.
  16. ^ Q Magazine, September 2000, p.124: "...Splendid... "Freedom's Prisoner" deserved to be an enormous hit... Time surely for a little readjustment of history. (4 stars)"
  17. ^ a b Staunton, Terry (June 2011). "Steve Harley - Hobo With A Grin/ The Candidate" (389). Record Collector. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  18. ^ a b Nicholls, Mike. "Albums". Record Mirror. No. 27 October 1979. p. 15.
  19. ^ Aberdeen Press and Journal - 17 November 1979 - page 11
  20. ^ Aberdeen Evening Express - Review - 5 December 1979 - page 13
  21. ^ Q Magazine, September 2000, p.124