Rex Smith? Me neither. But apparently the mere mention of his name to any American lady in their late 40s/early 50s will produce a dreamy reverie as they recall his sparkling eyes, finely chiselled boyish face framed by tousled curls, the perfect torso… and his starring role in the 1979 made-for-TV movie Sooner Or Later, where he plays a guitar tutor who falls for his 13-year-old pupil (not a script that would get far today).
They’ll also remember his wide-ranging voice, and the scene where he performs the soft-rock ballad You Take My Breath Away that gave Smith his first US Top 20 hit.
That and the other songs from the film can be found on the third of this six-CD set of his albums – each housed in its miniaturised original sleeve – also called Sooner Or Later. The album’s melodic emphasis is in contrast to the lively power pop of the first two mid-70s albums that Smith recorded as the singer in a band called Rex, which include a cover of The Who’s Can’t Explain.
Not surprisingly, the followup to Sooner Or Later – Forever, released later in 1979 – took careful aim at the soft-rock market, with more ballads like the title track and Let’s Make A Memory to the fore. But it was the uptempo cover of Everlasting Love in 1981, recorded as a duet with Rachel Sweet, that gave Smith his next chart action. By 1983’s Camouflage, you can tell he’s focusing on his acting career.