15 October 1976
"Sidetrack 1 (Group Version)"
"(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna" is a song by British rock band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, released as the second single from their 1976 album Love's a Prima Donna. The song was written and produced by Harley. It would be the band's last charting single before the band's split in 1977.
Following the UK Top 10 success of the single "Here Comes the Sun" during Summer 1976, "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna" was chosen as the second single from Love's a Prima Donna. Released in October, the single peaked at #41 on the UK Singles Chart, lasting within the Top 50 for four weeks. The song had originally debuted at #48 in early November 1976.
Like the entire Love's a Prima Donna album, the song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios at some point during sessions between June and September 1976.
The single was released by EMI Records on 7" vinyl in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Japan. The single featured the exclusive B-Side "Sidetrack 1" which was written and produced by Harley. It has remained exclusive to the single ever since. In the UK, two almost-identical editions of the single were released. One titled the B-Side simple as "Sidetrack 1", while the other titled it "Sidetrack 1 (Group Version)". The follow-up "Sidetrack 2" appeared as an album track on Love's a Prima Donna.
The UK release featured no artwork and used a generic sleeve instead, however the other releases featured picture sleeves. The Netherlands sleeve featured a photograph of the entire band, using black and light red as the only colours. The German release featured a close-up shot of Harley in front of a microphone on stage, while the Belgian release had no photograph, using the band's name and song title as large text with a blue background instead. The Japanese release featured the same artwork as the Love's a Prima Donna album. All sleeves of the single listed the song as being titled "Love is a Prima Donna", although the actual vinyl used the song's full title.
Following its original release as a single and on Love's a Prima Donna, the song has since appeared on the 1987 Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel compilation Greatest Hits, and the 2006 compilation The Cockney Rebel – A Steve Harley Anthology.
No music video was filmed to promote the single. On 21 October 1976, the band appeared on the UK music show Top of the Pops to perform the song. Harley also performed the song, minus the band, on ITV's Supersonic show during the same period.
The song has been performed during Cockney Rebel's live concerts on many occasions and was also included on the band's 1977 live album Face to Face. In 1989, a live performance of the song was professionally filmed during the band's "Come Back, All is Forgiven" tour. The footage, including the song, was released on VHS that year, titled The Come Back, All is Forgiven Tour: Live. Audio CD versions of the concert have since been released across Europe in many guises.
- "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna" - 4:11
- "Sidetrack 1 (Group Version)" - 2:46
- "(I Believe) Love's a Prima Donna" - 4:11
- "Sidetrack 1" - 2:46
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"."
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 "(Love) Compared with You", as the album's best cuts.
Donald A. Guarisco of AllMusic spoke of the song in a retrospective review of the album. He commented: "Love's a Prima Donna features two of Harley's finest songs; in the title track, a bracing song that features the writer waxing comical about the pitfalls of love over a briskly paced pop tune that fleshes out its pub-piano melody with flamenco guitar and a choir."
George Starostin retrospectively reviewed the album for his website, where he highlighted the song as the best track on the album. He wrote: "Harley does correct the previous record's major mistake of not having hit single material, and comes up with his last significant verse-chorus anthem, "(I Believe) Love's A Prima Donna" - yet another smooth pop-rocker in the vein of "Make Me Smile" with a catchy-as-heck chorus and upbeat vocal harmonies showing that as a prime popmeister, this guy was still quite able when he wanted to. However, unlike The Best Years of Our Lives, where the hit single fit into the overall picture quite nicely, here this structurally impeccable "anthem-ditty" is just one of the many different pieces of the complex puzzle."