the song
title : Rebel angel
written by : Eddi Reader and Neill MacColl
song copyright : © 1996 Warner Music UK Ltd

the performance
Eddi Reader lead vocal, concertina
Teddy Borowiecki piano, accordion
Calum MacColl acoustic guitars
David Piltch bass
Roy Dodds drums and percussion
key : G major
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 124
form : i V V C M c V C C

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

Rebel angel

yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, mmm-ah
yeah, yeah, yeah, mmm, hup

I’m on the Queenstown Road riding bumper to bumper
an island, an island in the driving rain
and in my mind it’s the highest place I’ve ever
been without a parachute, without holding on or falling {falling}
falling through the rain, heh-ah
yeah, yeah, yeah

I never lay down before underneath anyone who didn’t crush me
or punish me for my weaknesses
you’re on my tongue, you’re in my mouth, you’re all inside of me
my arms stretched wide – I’m not feeling crucified

{ah-ah continues}
with my rebel angel
my rebel angel
my rebel angel
falling through the rain

yeah, yeah, yeah-eh-ah
my— hmmm

are you real oh oh are you apparition oh oh
are you really really really real

– accordion solo

it’s been so long, singing “it’s been a good year for the roses”
and whistling down the wind
tell me did you fall or were you pushed from a passing cloud
one of god’s tear-drops, falling on me
falling on me, yeah
fall through me, fall through me, fall

{ah-ah continues}
my rebel angel
my rebel angel
my rebel angel
ah fall through me
fall through me
fall through me, yeah

{ah-ah continues}
my rebel angel
my rebel angel
my rebel angel
ah fall through me again
fall through me again now

yeah, yeah, yeah
yes, yes, yes
ah, yes, yes, yes


The Queenstown Road is a major north-south link in London, the A3216, running south from the Chelsea Bridge over the Thames. Passing between Battersea Park and the former Battersea (electricity) power station, the road snakes under the complex of railway viaducts where lines from the Victoria terminus cross and link with those from the Waterloo one (on the latter there is a local station called Queenstown Road Battersea and Eurostar trains from London to Paris made a sharp turn on a flyover there when their terminus was at Waterloo). Queenstown Road itself finishes at the foot of Lavender Hill as the traffic continues towards Clapham Common. Battersea was quite local to Eddi’s then London home, hence its appearance in some of her songs: another example is the rare (7" and cassette only) b-side ‘Battersea moon’.

The (in)famous lyric booklet supplied with the Japanese compilation album Seventeen stories prints the name as ‘Kingstown’ but this time I am absolutely certain that whoever has put the lyrics together has got it wrong. (See lyrics explanations of, amongst others, ‘All or nothing’, ‘Honeychild’, ‘Glasgow star’ and ‘Medicine’.)

the recording
produced by : Eddi Reader and Teddy Borowiecki
recorded by : Gerry O’Riordan assisted by Dan Gilliland, Mark Chambers and Ron Warshow at The Snake Ranch, Lots Road, Chelsea, London and David Bottrill assisted by Adrian Scarff and Simon Wall at Eden Studios, Acton, London (vocals)
mixed by : David Bottrill at Eden Studios, Acton, London
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis
track timing : 4:43
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Candyfloss and medicine (UK, Japan) track 4
single : Rebel angel track 1
album : Candyfloss and medicine (US) track 3
album : Seventeen stories: the best of Eddi Reader   (comp.) track 11

Eddi said
“The vibe of this… I think this is so joyous, it represents that feeling of passionate falling in love that usually lasts five minutes.”
Candyfloss and medicine press release
additional notes
Because of its proximity to the river, Queenstown Road is quite low lying, hence the contrast in verse one.

Some listeners have worried at the seemingly blasphemous reference in verse two. However, a close reading shows that the word “crucified” is used in its ‘secular’ meaning of brutally punished and arises naturally out of the “arms stretched wide” picture of this sexual intercourse and the contrast of the current lover’s behaviour with the singer’s previous experiences.

For me this song is made by the unexpected shift to the tonic minor chord in the chorus – it gets me every time.
Adrian Dover