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Smith, Rex - 1979 Sooner Or Later

ARTIST: Smith, Rex
ALBUM: Sooner Or Later
SERIAL: 35813
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2006, Wounded Bird (USA), WOU 5813


LINEUP: Rex Smith - vocals

Members of the Skye Band: Emily Bindiger, Mark Cunningham, Lenny Mancuso, Egleton Leroy Woodside Jr

TRACK LISTING: 01 You Take My Breath Away * 02 Sooner Or Later * 03 Simply Jessie * 04 Better Than It's Ever Been Before * 05 Love Street * 06 Never Gonna Give You Up * 07 Sway * 08 Oh What A Night For A Romance * 09 Ain't That Peculiar * 10 If You Think You Know How To Love Me


I can't and won't speak for everyone here, but those of us who know the first two Rex albums, in particular 1977's 'Where Do We Go from Here?' agree the man and his band offered some of the best American hard rock that so few heard. Perennial opening act for Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Angel and everyone under the sun, sales of both albums fell short of expectations, a problem suffered by brother Michael Lee Smith and Starz as well, yet Rex had something going for him beyond a great rock voice and that was his boyish good looks which drew a substantial number of female fans to his cause. In hindsight, it should have been no surprise 'Sexy Rexy' as he was playfully referred to would go on to bigger things, but for rock fans it was a major let down and in late 1978 the marketing campaign was in full swing with Smith ordained the hottest face since Leif Garrett appearing in all the teen magazines with news of an upcoming album and a made for TV movie starring our hero retooled and made over.

The Songs
'Sooner or Later' was the movie appearing on the NBC network and co-starred Denise Miller a sitcom actress popular at the time that has since faded into obscurity. The album of the same name coincided with the premier and generated the hit single 'You Take My Breath Away' which was inescapable in the dog days of summer 1979. As syrupy as the movie, the song is a classic seventies ballad and the album is no slouch either. In fact, it's a personal favourite and as much as I love those first two Rex albums, I know I've listened to 'Sooner Or Later' far more often. That's right, I'm coming out loud and proud, but I am somewhat perplexed by those who trash 'Sooner Or Later' assuming it's crap when they have never heard the album outside the single. Case in point the title track is a fine example as any of period AOR with plenty of pompy keys ala Le Roux or how about the sweet west coast of the Greg Guidry penned 'Never Gonna Give You Up'? Oh sure, 'Sway' reeks of disco cash-in with lyrics and a chorus that should have turned Smith red faced with embarrassment but the mid tempo Russ Ballard offering 'Oh What A Night For Romance' more than makes up for the previous indiscretion with a fun filled pop tune that would have made for a nice single choice. 'Ain't That Peculiar' is a throw back to Rex of old and is the heaviest track on the record and although I have ever been that impressed with the Chapman/Chinn closer 'If You Think You Know How To Love Me' there are far worse songs I've endured over the years. It's a catchy little number, but maybe I expected a more dramatic end to this excellent record.

In Summary
Cheers to Wounded Bird for giving 'Sooner Or Later' the reissue treatment and the movie is out on DVD if interested. I consider it a 70's cult classic along with the KISS made for TV one shot 'Phantom Of The Night' and Ron Howard's first film also made for television - 'Cotton Candy' about a pop group competing in a battle of the bands competition. All very 70's and all a lot of fun much like the album reviewed here. Yeah, Rex rocked on those first two gems, but 'Sooner Or Later' taken on its own is worth a listen or two, or three, or four or..

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#1 | reyno-roxx on July 31 2008 08:36:26
Rex's solo albums are, indeed, very underrated. My particular favourites are 'Forever' (that includes co-writes with brother Michael, Barry Brandt, Doug Katsaros and Peppy Castro) and the harder edged 'Camouflage' (featuring a whole host of names, including ex Rex drummer Mike Ratti).

According to Orville Davis, Rex actually cut a third album for Columbia, but it was shelved once the decision to go solo became known. Sadly, Orville doesn't have a copy.

By the way, Rex recorded a King Biscuit show that's worth tracking down.

Desmond Child And Rouge seemingly appear on backing vocals on 'Sooner Or Later', as does ex Rex guitarist Lars Hanson.
#2 | Eric on July 31 2008 17:28:49
Strange the inside (or outside) sleeve doesn't list these credits. Lot's of photos of Smith and stills from the movie, but no thanks anywhere for who played on it.
#3 | reyno-roxx on July 31 2008 19:03:31
Eric, I believe I got this info from the inner sleeve of my copy of the album.
Elliot Randall, Neal Jason, Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Richard Crooks and Rick Marotta are listed also. Will have to double check for a full list when I visit my collection!
#4 | gdazegod on July 31 2008 20:48:10
The lineup on the credits above were sourced from the DVD credits of the movie. I doubt they played on the album, though I did read on Mark Cunningham's website that he had some involvement in it other than playing in the backing band. However, I suggest that once Dave comes up with a listing, we'll include that instead.
#5 | reyno-roxx on July 31 2008 21:14:45
George, Eric...will check my album for full details asap.
#6 | Eric on August 01 2008 00:39:10
Thanks Dave!

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