Dutch cover of "Judy Teen"
|Single by Cockney Rebel|
|Released||8 March 1974|
|Producer(s)||Steve Harley, Alan Parsons|
|Cockney Rebel singles chronology|
"Judy Teen" is a song by British rock band Cockney Rebel, fronted by Steve Harley. The song was released as a non-album single in 1974, and became the band's first hit in the UK, although their previous and debut single "Sebastian" was a hit in continental Europe. "Judy Teen" was written by Harley and produced by both Harley and Alan Parsons.
The 1973 debut single "Sebastian" had become a big hit within Europe, particularly in countries such as The Netherlands and Belgium, but not in the UK. The band's debut album The Human Menagerie was released in November 1973 and suffered a similar fate in the UK, to which EMI felt that the group had yet to record a potential hit single. "Judy Teen" was written purposely as a single. Harley later recalled "When the first album came out, the record company said, 'We don't have a single.' And I said very arrogantly, 'I'll write one, I know how to do it.' That's exactly what I said and exactly what I did. Now I think - what an arrogant young man, fearless! "Judy Teen" was a boy/girl story, a teenage romance, a bit of sex in there, interesting drum rhythm, hooks all over the place - lo and behold big hit! It's a good sexy little teenage love story. When I wrote Judy Teen, I was 18 or 19 when I had the experience that that song came from."
The song was not immediately issued as a single. EMI decided to hold the song back at the beginning of the year whilst "Sebastian" was re-issued on 25 January (originally due to be 11 January), as the third time being released as a single. "Sebastian" did not become a UK hit, and did not make a chart appearance. When "Judy Teen" was released as a single, it became a Top Five hit in the UK, peaking at #5, and staying within the Top 100 for a total of eleven weeks. It was also a hit in Europe too, peaking at #23 in Belgium and #26 in the Netherlands. The Human Menagerie album, despite receiving wild reviews and curious sales, continued to exist as a cult album even after "Judy Teen" gave the band a hit single. The song, upon release, was Johnnie Walker's Record Of The Week on BBC Radio One.
The single's success opened a wave of popularity for the group, which the band discovered on their UK tour of the time. In the New Musical Express magazine of 29 June 1974, an article on Cockney Rebel featured quotes taken from the band during their tour at the time. The bassist Paul Jeffreys remarked to violinist Jean-Paul Crocker and drummer Stuart Elliott over dinner about the audience reactions on the early stages of the current British tour. Crocker noted "The trouble with this tour has been the cock-up because of the single. It went into the charts a week before we started the tour, and it's going up and up and up. It's what? - number five this week. And if it gets any higher by the end of the tour - which is 42 dates - it's going to be a riot. We had riots, literally riots, every night last week. That's why Tony's here (the security guard). We did a gig in York and there were bottlefights - and we had a rough time of it in Newcastle. But when I came off at York I was in tears, because we'd never seen it before. It was the people in the front row who caused all the trouble - because they're the ones who knew the single."
In 2012, the four disc definitive anthology Cavaliers: An Anthology 1973-1974 was released, combining the two Cockney Rebel albums The Human Menagerie and The Psychomodo, as well as two discs of demo and live versions. On the release, a previously unreleased early version of "Judy Teen" appeared on disc three.
The single was released in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan and Australia in March 1974, via 7" vinyl through EMI Records. A UK promotional demo copy/DJ copy of the single was also released, which simply highlighted "Demo Records - Not for Resale" as the only difference from the main release. All editions of the single featured the b-side "Spaced Out" which was written by Harley and produced by both Harley and Parsons as well. The b-side was exclusive to the single, and would later be included on a number of CD releases including the 2006 remastered three-disc box-set compilation The Cockney Rebel – A Steve Harley Anthology and the Cockney Rebel Cavaliers: An Anthology 1973-1974 from 2012. Before that it did appear as a bonus track on the 1992 CD single issue of the band's 1975 UK number one single "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)", and later on the 2000 EMI/Comeuppance Discs re-issue of Harley's 1978 album Hobo with a Grin.
All releases of "Judy Teen", except in the UK and Ireland, included artwork, a full colour picture sleeve, which featured differing photographs of the band. The German sleeve was the only one not to feature the band on the front cover, but a close-up drawing of a females face. Following the original release as a single, the song has appeared on the majority of Steve Harley/Cockney Rebel compilations.
The song has consistently been part of Harley's set-list when performing live, remaining a popular part of the band's performances. Various live versions of the song have appeared on a number of official releases as a result. Versions appeared on the 1999 album Stripped to the Bare Bones, the 2001 album Unplugged and the 2004 live acoustic album Anytime! (A Live Set). A professionally filmed live performance at Camden Palace in 1984 for the "Live from London" VHS release included the song, which was later issued on two different DVD versions. On 24 November 2012, Harley performed live at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. The band, with the orchestra and chamber choir, made up about 50 performers together, and the band's first two albums were performed in their entirety - with some of the songs entirely new to the stage. "Judy Teen" was one of three additional tracks on the night, and this live version appears on the CD album, and DVD release Birmingham (Live with Orchestra & Choir). Classic Rock magazine writer Geoff Barton reviewed the album and noted "The eclectic glam rock of 70s chart-busters "Judy Teen" and "Mr Soft" is reproduced with stunning accuracy."
In April 1974, a promotional video was filmed for the single, featuring the band performing the song, with some shots using kaleidoscope effects. The band also performed the song on Top of the Pops on 23 May 1974, and whilst small parts of this rare performance remain, the original, full video has been presumed lost by the BBC.
On 14 April 1975, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel performed the song as part of their set at the Hammersmith Odeon, and this concert was filmed and released as two films in cinemas; Between the Lines and Star Fighter.
- 7" Single
- "Judy Teen" - 3:45
- "Spaced Out" - 3:04
On 16 March 1974, writer Charles Shaar Murray reviewed the "Judy Teen" single for the UK New Musical Express magazine. He stated "There are those among our number who rate this little combo as being the elephant's jock-strap, but I've found their energetic posing and watery music singularly irritating. "Judy Teen" is another mincingly affected Roxy Music cop, but it could conceivably affect others differently. Don't let my world-weary cynicism put you off, kids. Those who have lived longest have borne most, as Arlo Guthrie once said. It is vaguely interesting to point out that this toon bears exactly the same intro as The Defranco Family's "Abracadabra", which proves absolutely nothing. What a senseless life of human waste." In the Belgian Juke Box magazine of April 1974, an article on the band described the song: "Mix the rhythm of "Sweet Pea" (the Manfred Mann version) with a little bit of "Catch a Falling Star" and you get "Judy Teen", the next Cockney Rebel song." In an article titled "The Pick Of My Pop" by writer Bob Hart from circa 1976, Hart described the single, along with the following hit "Mr. Soft" as "superb". In 1977 Hart would later write another article on Harley for The Sun newspaper, where he noted that "Tune in to hits like "Mr. Soft" and "Judy Teen", and they still sound fresher than much of the music being pumped out in 1977."
Donald A. Guarisco reviewed the song for Allmusic, where he stated "Most glam acts were either arty or purely commercial, but other groups were able to blend both styles to create singles that were as challenging as they were catchy. Steve Harley was able to straddle this balance and "Judy Teen" is a good example of this skill. The lyrics are a light-hearted tribute to "the queen of the scene" that mix gestures of praise (a recurring refrain is "she made us happy") with lyrical flights of fancy: "Seeking shelter, no helter-skelter's gonna betray you/Judy Teen, the queen of the scene, is coming to slay you." The music matches the lyrics' sense of fun by mixing swinging mid-tempo verses that create a waltz-like beat with a more up-tempo chorus that builds to an effervescent peak. Cockney Rebel's recording of "Judy Teen" wraps the song's plentiful hooks in some unique ear candy, anchoring the song with Stuart Elliott's steady yet inventive drum work from but dressing it up with Milton Reames-James' frilly keyboard riffs and some soaring electric violin riffs from Jean-Paul Crocker. The result was catchy enough for a wide audience but clever enough to snare in ambitious listeners with its wordplay. "Judy Teen" earned the group its first Top Ten hit and set a precedent for equally ambitious future singles like "Mr. Raffles (Man, It Was Mean)" and "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna."
Guarisco would also mention the song in an Allmusic review of the 1987 compilation Greatest Hits. He noted "Of all the glam-rock acts to hit it big in England during the 1970s, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel were second only to David Bowie himself in terms of artsy ambition. Tunes like "Judy Teen" and "Love's a Prima Donna" may have been poppy enough to sail into the English singles charts, but they also boasted unconventional instrumentation (no Cockney Rebel single ever featured an electric guitar) and poetic lyrics with lots of surreal, Bob Dylan-esque wordplay. The result was a string of intelligent yet catchy singles, all of which are compiled on this collection." Additionally when reviewing the 1976 American compilation A Closer Look, Guarisco noted the album "omits some crucial hits like "Judy Teen."
Allmusic reviewer Dave Thompson highlighted the song as an album standout by labeling it an AMG Pick Track on the 2000 Disky UK compilation Best of the 70's. He also spoke of the song's b-side within a review of the 1983 compilation The Collection, where he stated "A 15-track compilation produced in the last days of vinyl, Collection was most notable, at least among serious fans, for the inclusion of "Spaced Out," one of Steve Harley's most characteristically brilliant compositions, yet one that had spent the past nine years languishing on a B-side (of "Judy Teen") alone."
Reviewer George Starostin called the song a "catchy boppy single". Carol Clerk of Classic Rock Magazine reviewed The Cockney Rebel – A Steve Harley Anthology compilation, and noted "Sebastian" was a brave first single with its choral and orchestral dramas, and while it flopped in Britain it was a success in Europe. Later favourites such as "Judy Teen" and "Mr Soft" were exquisitely crafted and arranged, and determinedly eccentric to boot." Chris Roberts of Uncut Magazine, for the same compilation, wrote "Harley's ever-changing band slid perfectly into the post-Ziggy/Roxy slipstream, all mannered English vocals, florid lyrics and sexual-theatrical rock. Tricksy hits like "Judy Teen" and "Mr Soft" (riddled with inventive sonic punctuation, also violins) displayed arch wit."
|Belgian Singles Chart (Vl)||23|
|Dutch Singles Chart||26|
|UK Singles Chart||5|
- Steve Harley - lead vocals
- John Crocker - electric violin, guitar
- Paul Jeffreys - Fender bass
- Milton Reame-James - keyboards
- Stuart Elliott - drums, percussion
- Producer - Steve Harley, Alan Parsons
- Writer - Steve Harley
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