|B-side "Too Much Tenderness"|
Genre Pop, Rock
Label EMI Records
"(Love) Compared with You" is a song by British rock band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, released in 1976 as the third and final single from the band's fifth studio album Love's a Prima Donna. It was released as a single in America only. "(Love) Compared with You" was written and produced by Harley.
Following the UK Top 50 success of Love's a Prima Donna's second single, "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna", plans were made for "(Love) Compared with You" to be released as the third single in the UK. However, EMI Records later decided to cancel the release at the last minute. The late cancellation of the release meant that a limited number of copies were put into circulation and today remain highly collectable. Despite the UK release being scrapped, EMI would still release the song as a single in America.
Like the Love's a Prima Donna album, the song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, sometime between June and September 1976. English violinist Wilfred Gibson scored the string section for the track, and also contributed to choir and orchestral arrangements on the album. Speaking to Melody Maker's Harvey Kubernik in February 1977, Harley spoke of the song, revealing: "(Love) Compared with You is the first out-and-out love song I've written. I'd been trying for three years."
In 2010, Harley supported the Children in Need charity by auctioning a personal mini-concert at the winning bidder's home, as well as a signed guitar and a lavish dinner. The winning bidder at the auction in Manchester was a German fan with the winning bid of $15,000. In December 2010, it was revealed that Harley was set to travel to the fan's home to play their requested song, which was "(Love) Compared with You".
The single was released by EMI Records on 7" vinyl in America only. The B-Side "Too Much Tenderness" was written and produced by Harley, and also taken from the Love's a Prima Donna album. For its release as a single, "(Love) Compared with You" was cut down by almost a minute. A promotional edition of the single was also released in America by EMI, which placed the A-Side on both sides of the vinyl; one in stereo and one in mono. Neither release featured a picture sleeve, using a generic one instead. The song was the only Love's a Prima Donna track to be released as a single in America.
Following its original release on the Love's a Prima Donna album, and as a single, the song has also appeared on a number of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel compilations including the CD version of 1987's Greatest Hits, 1998's More Than Somewhat – The Very Best of Steve Harley, the 1999 UK EMI Gold compilation The Cream of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, and the 2006 EMI box-set The Cockney Rebel – A Steve Harley Anthology.
The song has been performed live on various occasions and was included on the band's 1977 live album Face to Face: A Live Recording. A live acoustic version later appeared on Harley's 1999 album Stripped to the Bare Bones. A small number of unofficial video footage has also appeared on YouTube of Harley performing the song live in recent years.
- "(Love) Compared With You (Stereo)" - 3:33
- "Too Much Tenderness" - 4:16
- "(Love) Compared With You (Stereo)" - 3:33
- "(Love) Compared With You (Mono)" - 3:33
In the 29 January 1977 issue of the American magazine Billboard, a review of the Love's a Prima Donna album was published under the 'Pop' section of the 'Billboard's Recommended LPs'. The review highlighted the song, along with the title track, as the album's best cuts.
In the National RockStar magazine of 20 November 1976, writer Paul Phillips reviewed the album, commenting: "Here Comes the Sun bears all the hallmarks of the accomplished lyricist desperately attempting to become the acclaimed musician/arranger - mistaking clumsiness for cleverness and arrogance for art. Unfortunately, these faults permeate the entire album. "(Love) Compared with You" and "Carry Me Again" are two tracks which work, not because they are simple songs, but because they are simply presented."
In the 13 November 1976 issue of Sounds magazine, writer Geoff Barton reviewed the album, noting: "After the morass of interrelated mini-songs, there comes the first 'conventional' number of the album, the endearing "Too Much Tenderness". The balladic "(Love) Compared with You" is next, containing the lovely line 'Like a waterfall you tingle me with your love'. This one comes across extremely well, building into an all-encompassing entity and ending with the tear-jerking lines 'I love you - I'm in love with you' echoing away into the disance, ad. inf."
In a 1976 issue of the EMI Records Weekly News magazine Music Talk, issue number 72, Rex Anderson reviewed the Love's a Prima Donna album. He compared the track "(Love) Compared with You" with the title track: "(Love) Compared With You is the first real highpoint of the album and possibly one of the best things Steve has written to date. It contrasts with all his other work in that it is romantic and dreamy. It is a love hymn with beautifully gentle acoustic guitar, piano, and strings. The "I'm in love with you" overdubbed fade is a little production masterpiece on its own. The following track, "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna" is a brilliant contrast. The guy has been through all the different pangs of adolescent love and comes to the realisation that "love" is a prima donna." Later in the review, Anderson also noted: "Tony Rivers deserves some praise for his vocal arrangements, particularly on "(Love) Compared with You" and "Love's a Prima Donna"."
Donald A. Guarisco of AllMusic spoke of the song in a retrospective review of Love's a Prima Donna. He wrote: "Love's a Prima Donna features two of Harley's finest songs in the title track, and "(Love) Compared With You," a delicately orchestrated love ballad that manages to be touching and heartfelt without lapsing into sappy sentimentality." Guarisco spoke of the song again in another AllMusic retrospective review of the 1987 Greatest Hits compilation. He stated: "Another interesting aspect of this collection is that it highlights Harley's oft-underrated skill with ballads: a particular highlight in this area is "(Love) Compared With You," a delicate, subtly orchestrated tune where Harley drops his yen for surrealistic lyrics to communicate in direct and elegantly romantic terms."
George Starostin retrospectively reviewed the album for his website, stating: "On the downside, '(Love) Compared With You' is hardly a great success - apart from the general tender feel of it, there's little to recommend it alongside Steve's really fine ballads; it actually looks like a reject from the too-wordy "Timeless Flight". Not even the tenderness-itself of the 'I love you, I'm in love with you' coda helps - such things should be left to real "lovemeisters" like Paul McCartney, I guess."
In a 1977 issue of Sounds magazine, Geoff Barton reviewed the Face to Face: A Live Recording album, commenting: "The involvement builds and builds until, towards the end, everyone sings along in fine football chorus tradition. Highly charged, sincere, spine-tingling stuff. '(Love) Compared with You' follows admirably in the footsteps of 'Best Years', together with the irrisistible line 'Like a waterfall you tingle me with your love'."
Starostin also retrospectively reviewed the live album for his website, where he wrote: "...But reasonable still does not equal forgivable, and there's no good excuse for me having to sit through boring crap like '(Love) Compared with You' when I could be grooving to the cool sounds of 'Loretta's Tale' or 'Judy Teen' instead. Oh well, it's not like it's my first experience of an "untimely" live album."