Not Forgotten: The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Tomorrow Belongs to Me

Absolutely uncategorisable throughout their career, by 1975, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were still in pursuit of an elusive hit singles, but album wise Tomorrow Belongs to Me followed hot on the heels of the brilliant The Impossible Dream, and proved beyond a doubt that its predecessor was in no way a fluke hit.

Rocker “Action Strasse” kicks the album off with no little style, and it’s quickly followed by the slithering “Snake Bite”, declaring that Harvey and his band mates were at the top of their game, but still hungry for more. Given Harvey’s relentless climb to commercial success, he was never going to be satisfied with that singular taste of success. His bandmates were evidently no less determined, particularly his musical collaborators Zal Cleminson and Hugh McKenna, and between them they bolted together an album that is unmistakably SAHB.

SAHB stood out throughout their career, but at no point more than during that strange period between the waning of the rock giants of the early 70s and the first stirrings of punk in ’75 and ’76. By somehow bridging the two styles by way of a theatrical, yet utterly streetwise, rock that ensured they sounded like no one else, SAHB carved their unique place in the rock and roll landscape.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, as Tomorrow Belongs to Me has a couple of moments that don’t quite work. Although “The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater” has its fans, it can divide opinion, and I for one have never found much to admire on the extended theatrical work beyond Cleminson’s failingly glorious guitar work. For me, “Ribs and Balls” should have been a victim to more stringent quality control, though at least it does provide bass-player Chris Glenn with his only co-writing credit on the album and it’s home to some funky keyboard work from McKenna and a dirty riff from Cleminson. Somewhere out there Bon Scott and the rest of AC/DC were listening.

Where it does work though, it’s peerless stuff. “Give My Compliments to the Chef” hits the spot in a way that “The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater” fails to. Bets of all though is the title track, a number from the Cabaret musical, given a whole new sinister and potent twist by SAHB and made into a show-stopper of a whole different kind than Fred Ebb and John Kander probably ever intended.

Tomorrow Belongs to Me is one of those albums where you have to take the rough with a smooth, and it should be remembered that this was SAHB’s fourth studio album in three years, at a time when, unless you were one of the mega-acts of the age, it was all about getting new product on the shelves as rapidly as possible. It’s an album of songs, rather than an entirely cohesive listen, but in some ways, that’s what’s charming about it. This is prime SAHB. The good, the bad, and the bits that cause you to scratch your head.

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