Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Micheal Smotherman- Lost Tracks: Volume 3
Micheal Smotherman has been haunting me since 1982, June 3rd of '82 to be exact, the night I saw him open up for Kasim Sulton at The Bottom Line. It's been almost 30 years, so I won't pretend I remember exactly what I was thinking, but I assure you, being a Robert Palmer fan, I was thrilled to see Palmer's excellent go-to drummer Dony Wynn behind the drum kit, even if this tall, blonde and lanky opener named Smotherman, who I knew nothing about, was about to waste my time. (He didn't.)
Micheal Smotherman's set felt like the most fun I had ever had. Almost 30 years later, I feel like I can confirm that. The short set of music was filled with cajun-soul, or Jamaican funk, something not unlike Robert Palmer, right down to Smotherman's vocal phrasing and stiff but somehow sexy moves. This guy was cool. I wanted the record. I bought the record. I loved the record. I still play the record.
30 years later, session man and songwriter, Micheal Smotherman's 1982 sophomore release on Epic has yet to see the light of the day on compact disc. And worst of all, there has never been a follow-up.
Side One is fine. Both "Green Eyes" and "Matter Of Time" work best. But it's Side Two that just kicks this baby into gear thanks to a rhythm section--the aforementioned Dony Wynn on drums and James Jamerson Jr. on bass-- that would make George Porter Jr. and Zigaboo proud.
I won't say too much, as I've been known to gush, so just listen.
I'd like to point out the following tracks as killers:
MATTER OF TIME
IF YOU THINK YOU'RE HURTING ME
(which includes one of my favorite lyrics, "What is this baby/What are them bags/What are them tickets/What are them tags?")
DO I EVER CROSS YOUR MIND
(later, a hit for Cher. No, really.)
FAIS DO DO
ALL THE WAY DOWN
(which you can listen to below)
Here is the full album:
And here are the album's original liner notes:
I'm sitting in a patch of sunlight in a corner of a bare livinq room in California. It's the dead of Winter, must be 85 degrees and I can smell the ocean and hear sea gulls. This is a wonderful place. I came from Oklahoma (with a piano on my knee) and I'll bet a dollar to a hole in a doughnut it's not 85 degrees there. I'd like to try and introduce myself and talk a little bit about some of my songs on the record contained herein, hopefully so you will enjoy said songs, purchase said record, ano the faceless monolith of my record company will remand to me my pittance and I can continue to smell the ocean.
The song Fais Do Do (pronounced Fay-doe doe) is about a guy trying to find someone to explain what the hell Fais Do Do is. As our hero wanders from bar to bar, ever searching, ever thirsty, the answer is eventually revealed to him, so I'll tell you all. Fais Do Do is actually a Cajun dance beat which literally translated means "go to sleep." Strange, no? Maybe it's drinking all that swamp water. The song doesn't even have a Fais Do Do beat, it has a beat I made up I just dig the word.
Green Eyes is about a very lovely Southern girl I met when I was hanging out in Tennessee. Her eyes are sea green, two million miles deep, she never learned to frown or speak loudly, and her body is like warm marble. Yow.
I wrote Cold Burn about women who are exploited by men, apparently willingly.
Freedom's legacy is my attempt to try and feel the personal side of what it must be like to kill or be killed by a total stranger (who also has someone who loves him) to preserve or gain freedom. In the movies all the guys look like Robert Redford, but when I realize that the guys who bleed real blood and feel real terror, look like our Dads, it hits home pretty hard. I tried not to relate it to any specific conflict right now and it is not political. It is about love.
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind was written in a loft apartment I was renting above an old colonial house in Nashville, during a gentle spring shower. I feel in my heart that we all have telepathically sung this song to someone sometime.
Crazy In Love was co-written with a buddy of mine who was as drunk as me around his pool in L.A. Man, it sure sounded great around the pool. It also gave me the opportunity to finally use the word jacaranda in a song. I love that word. Jacaranda.
The vocals were cut at Cherokee.
We mixed at George Massenburg Studios and Westlake, using the wizardry of Mick Guzauski (thanks again, Mick).
Wine for my men.
We mastered at JVC.
We were ably assisted on everything by my able assistant and road manager, Rick Davis.
Thank you Epic Records from the bottom of my heart. We had a hell of a party if I do say so myself.
Special thanks to Gregg Geller, Ron McCarrell, Larry Douglas, Pretty Polly Anthony (check them eyes), Saucy Stephanie Knauer (check that hair) and Sassy Sue Sawyer (check them lips).
Hi Mom, Pop, Amy, and all my friends in Nashville, my second home. I miss you.
God Bless Larry and Frankie and my cohort in crime Darlene Groncki.
Billy Burnette appears courtesy of CBS Records
James Jamerson, Jr. appears courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved.
Unauthorized duplication public performance, broadcasting and copying of this record is a violation of applicable laws & prohibited.
Epic trademark of CBS Inc. Marcas Reg.
Made/Printed in Holland
(C) (P) 1982 CBS Inc.
33 1/3 RPM