Eddie Leonetti, Charles Calello, Rick Chertoff, Ron Nevison
For the first time, a box set of Rex Smith´s studio albums on CBS and Columbia Records have been packaged and released by HNE Recordings/Cherry Red Records by the title Rock and Roll Dream. I felt like a kid when I received this CD box set.
Kee Marcello of Europe likes to call himself the rockstar that God forgot, but I think that would suit Rex Smith a helluva lot better. Rex had a short career and released 6 albums between 1976 and 1983, but he is more known as an television actor with leading roles in Baywatch, Sooner or Later and The Love Boat.
Rex also appeared in Broadway musicals such as Grease and Annie Get Your Gun, but even if his rock oriented albums failed to sell, Rex managed to become a teen idol with the pop hits You Take My Breath Away in 1979 and Everlasting Love in 1981.
The first two albums Rex (1976) and Where Do We Go From Here? (1977) are released as a band called Rex featuring Rex Smith - Lead Vocals, Lars Hanson - Guitar, Lou Van Dora - Guitar, Orville Davis - Bass (Starz) and Mike Ratti - Drums.
They made two good hard rock albums where the first one can be compared to Starz meets Nazareth, in fact, Rex is the younger brother of Starz´ frontman Michael Lee Smith.
The second album Where Do We Go From Here? is more of a 70´s AOR album but still with elements of classic hard rock in the same vein as Kiss and Starz.
The hard rock sound of the first two albums was gone with the wind and replaced by a FM radio sound on the third album Sooner or Later, reminiscent of artists like Billy Joel and Smokie.
Sooner or Later (1979) is the biggest commercial success for Rex Smith with more than a million copies sold, the album includes the Top 10 hit You Take My Breath Away and the Russ Ballard-penned Oh What A Night For Romance.
Forever from the same year is the weakest album from Rex, although it has 4 songs contributed by Balance members Peppy Castro and Doug Katsaros, the album has too many ballads and sounds more like a westcoast-ish Barry Manilow record.
The 1981 album Everlasting Love was riding on the success of Rex´s cover of Robert Knight´s Motown hit Everlasting Love from 1967, later also recorded by Sandra in 1987. This was a pure pop album with a polished and smooth production that kept hard rock fans away from Rex Smith but they would return for the last album.
The AOR gem Camouflage from 1983, produced by Ron Nevison, marked a return for Rex Smith to the rocking sound of the early albums. It´s without doubt his best album, featuring songs like Get It Right (co-written by Brad Whitford of Aerosmith) and Tears (written by Vinnie Vincent, ex.Kiss and Adam Mitchell).
Rex : Trouble, I Can´t Explain (The Who cover)
Where Do We Go From Here? : Do Me, Burn Your Bridges
Sooner or Later : You Take My Breath Away, Sooner or Later
Forever : Without You, Saturday Night
Everlasting Love : What Becomes of The Broken Hearted, Everlasting Love