Alexander James “Alex” Harvey (5 February 1935 – 4 February 1982) was a Scottish blues/rock musician. Although Harvey’s career spanned almost three decades he is best remembered as the frontman of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, with whom he built a reputation as an exciting live performer during the era of glam rock in the 1970s.
“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.
- “Action Strasse” (Alex Harvey, Alistair Cleminson, Hugh McKenna) – 3:12
- “Snake Bite” (Alex Harvey) – 3:55
- “Soul in Chains” (David Batchelor, Alistair Cleminson, Alex Harvey, Hugh McKenna) – 3:55
- “The Tale of the Giant Stoneater” (Alex Harvey, Hugh McKenna) – 7:20
- “Ribs and Balls” (Chris Glen, Alex Harvey) – 1:51
- “Give My Compliments to the Chef” (Alex Harvey, Alistair Cleminson, Hugh McKenna) – 5:32
- “Shark’s Teeth” (Alex Harvey, Alistair Cleminson) – 5:54
- “Shake That Thing” (Alex Harvey) – 3:30
- “Tomorrow Belongs to Me“ (Fred Ebb, John Kander) – 4:14
- “To Be Continued…(Hail Vibrania!)” (Alex Harvey, Alistair Cleminson) – 0:50
- “Big Boy” (Alistair Cleminson) – 4:54
- “Pick It Up and Kick It” (Alex Harvey, Hugh McKenna) – 4:25
- The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
- Alex Harvey – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
- Zal Cleminson – guitar, backing vocals
- Chris Glen – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Hugh McKenna – keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals
- Ted McKenna – drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Barry St. John, Liza Strike, Vicki Brown – backing vocals on “Action Strasse” and “Soul in Chains”
- Derek Wadsworth – string and brass arrangements
- Dennis Weinreich, Ray Hendriksen – engineer
- Peter Swettenham – extra recording and mixing
- Dave Field – sleeve illustration
- Jack Wood – art direction
- Produced (by) – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, David Batchelor
Released: April 1975
Recorded: 1975, Studio Scorpio Studios, London
Genre: Hard rock
Label – Vertigo Records