Rex Smith, younger brother of Starz vocalist Michael Lee Smith, may be better known to his Stateside fans for his roles on stage and screen; playing motorcycle police officer Jesse Mach in the 1985 TV series “Street Hawk”, as well as guest appearances on “The Love Boat”, “Baywatch”, “Daredevil” and “Caroline In The City”. He also played Danny Zuko in the 1978 Broadway production of “Grease”, eventually becoming a household name via the popular daytime drama “As The World Turns”, whilst also replacing Andy Gibb as presenter on popular US TV music show “Solid Gold” in 1982.
Prior to “Solid Gold”, Rex also had a prolific musical career, initially in the band Rex, before going solo under his own name. Cutting his teeth in the clubs of Atlanta, initially fronting the band Phaedra and then Trix, he was soon discovered by David Krebs of Leber-Krebs, then managers of Ted Nugent and Aerosmith, which directly led to a deal with Columbia Records. In 1976, Columbia released the eponymously titled “Rex” (CD1), and despite the singer’s teen idol good looks, this is a debut that mixes muscular, hard rocking riffs with plenty of melodic rock. On many tracks, particularly ‘Ten Seconds Of Love’, Rex predates 80s hair-metal, with a sound that would not have been out of place on a Motley Crue or Van Halen LP. ‘Dead End Kids’ is as heavy as the title would suggest.
Rex continued in this hard rock vein with 1977’s “Where Do We Go from Here” (CD2), but with a bigger, more stadium orientated sound. His fame and fortunes would take an upswing into the mainstream in 1979 when he was given a starring role in the TV movie “Sooner Or Later” (CD3), which led to the album of the same name, featuring his first hit, ‘You Take My Breath Away’. Moving further into a commercial path for “Forever” (CD4), also issued in 1979, the album showcases Rex Smith’s extraordinary vocal prowess as well as creative song writing power.
Releasing “Everlasting Love” (CD5) in 1981, Rex enjoyed a further bona fide hit with a duet on the title track with Rachel Sweet. “Everlasting Love” also features ‘Still Thinking of You’, co-written with a pre-fame Michael Bolton.
Produced by Ron Nevison, famed for his work with Led Zeppelin, UFO, Heart and Survivor, 1983’s “Camouflage” (CD6) saw a return to a more rockier style, with guest appearances from J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf, Linda Ronstadt and Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford.
Each of the six albums is presented in its own “mini album” sleeve, and the extended booklet features rare memorabilia, as well as an essay from Malcolm Dome based on new interviews with Rex. The set also includes three bonus “mono” single versions, available on CD for the first time.
Rock And Roll Dream is released on Friday 24th March. Check out the track list and order your copy here.