Brett Smiley was prettier than Michael Monroe or Brett Michaels. While Michael Monroe was still practicing in a garage in pre-Hanoi Rocks bands and Brett Michaels hadn't even begun to conceptualize Poison, Brett Smiley was the hope-to-be-a-star ingenue of Andrew Loog Oldham, who discovered and managed The Rolling Stones.
However, the fickle finger of fame did not cooperate. In 1974 Brett Smiley released his only single, Va Va Va Voom b-w Space Ace. Sadly, his completed album never did come out, and Brett got lost in a haze of liquor and pills.
RPM has done a great job of finally releasing this record, and of providing their usual great inserts and graphics. If you like T Rex, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, or glam, you will enjoy this record.
The story of Brett Smiley is fascinating. He was a child star who achieved fame playing the part of Oliver Twist in Lionel Bart's Broadway play Oliver!, with soon-to-be Monkee Davy Jones playing the Artful Dodger. 19 year old Brett met Oldham in Detroit, where the producer was working with a Motown act. He made a glorious impression on Oldham, who offered Brett the opportunity to record a grand record two years later, with 100K financed by Anchor Records on the strength of a polaroid and a demo.
At that time, Brett was ready to sign a contract with Warner for his then band Cherokee. He went for the gold, and left the band to follow Andrew Loog Oldham. Oldham put his golden touch on almost all of the record, which in english, means that Brett did not have as much input as he probably should have.
Some of the songs were almost complete before Brett ever entered the studio. Despite, Brett's whispery voice put such a stamp on anything he did, that his personality manages to come through on all of the tracks through his lyrics. The famous session musicians and immaculate production make the record as much a Broadway production as a rock and roll disc, which Brett actually enjoyed, coming as he had from a background in Broadway.
[more to come later today]
- Bretts Lullaby A thirty second instrumental opener for the record.
- Highty Tighty The records other rocker, complementing Va Va Va Voom
- Space Ace My favorite track on the record. I love this song. It was the B-side of his only single (Va Va Va Voom was the A-side). I bet Ace Frehley get his tag from this cut.
- April In Paris Pop with trumpets and neat background vocals.
- Solitaire A sweeping ballad somewhere between Rolling Stone's Angie and a John Lennon song.
- Va Va Va Voom RPM put this track on their 'Velvet Tinmine' compilation, which was how I discovered Brett Smiley. It is quite a track. It is the cut I would play to turn someone onto Brett Smiley.
- Run For The Sun Reggae/pop with a pronounced Steve Harley feel.
- I Want To Hold Your Hand A version of the Beatles track.
- Pre Columbian Love I hear David Bowie's Moonage Daydream in the opening guitar riff, but it is no problem - this track holds its own just fine.
- Queen Of Hearts Kind of like a companion track to Space Ace. Both songs have a similar feel, only Space Ace is better!
- I Cant Help Myself / Over The Rainbow A cover of the Motown track, segued into Judy Garland's classic. It works very well!
- Young At Heart Brett's song to himself, as the fairytales he wished for started to come true. Too bad the luck hadn't stayed with him and this album had come out when it was supposed to. This record is better than many other LPs that achieved far more fame.