Rex - Rex

edited August 1 in year-1976

The magnificence of 'Rex' forms an essential part of the 70's hard rock legacy,compulsory listening.

Rex - Rex
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2009, Wounded Bird, WOU-4399

LINEUP: Rex Smith - vocals * Lars Hanson, Lou Vandora - guitar * Orville Davis - bass * Mike Ratti - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Trouble * 02 10 Seconds Of Love * 03 Feeling Better * 04 Stay With Me * 05 Call Her Easy * 06 Dead End Kids * 07 I Ccan't Explain * 08 Rock N Roll Dream * 09 Violent Playground



Covered here previously at Glory Daze is former teen idol Rex Smith, who charted with some excellent melodic rock back in the late 70's and early 80's. His 1983 effort 'Camouflage' is a prime example of the genre, but for many, Smith's debut is his masterpiece. Classic U.S. hard rock which typified the mid 70's.

As pointed out in other reviews, Smith's brother is Starz's Michael Lee Smith, so Rex had an immediate tie in to the rock community and at the age of 21 unleashed this monster among the rock world. It may have not made a splash initially, but it helped set Rex up nicely for the future and has become a much heralded classic of its kind over the years.

The Songs

Released the same year as Starz's debut, this manages to equal Starz at their own game and match them for brash riffs and overall attitude. It seems Rex was determined on becoming a spokesperson for his generation with a series of devastating anthems reflecting a definite type of disillusion that existed in the 70's.

The production veers towards the rough side, but it adds a veneer of harshness exemplified by 'Trouble' with its rousing chorus and brutal riffs. Granted there was a ton of bands pursuing this direction in the same period, but Rex and co sound anything but contrived.

The opening riff of 'Ten Seconds Of Love' is remarkably sinister and you can't tell me Nikki Sixx wasn't paying attention to this in 1976, especially when he wrote 'Ten Seconds To Love' in 1983. 'Feeling Better' is superior barroom rock, with a boogie riff heard since time immemorial, but always works. For 1976 this would rate alongside anything by Status Quo, Ted Nugent or AC/DC.

Rex takes a stab at the Nazareth 'Love Hurts' sub-genre with 'Stay With Me' which shows signs of his later pop infused direction. Displaying nothing except untamed raunch is 'Call Her Easy' and some saucy riffs, an ode to the backstage beauties of the day who were no doubt clamoring for some of Rex's youthful exuberance. This would easily have found a slot on Starz's debut.

The rebellious 'Dead End Kids' is almost Black Sabbath like with the heaviness of the riffs and this could have served as an anthem for the disenfranchised youth of the day hell-bent on mayhem. Just listen to the lyrics about prowling the streets at night.

This is followed by an adept cover of The Who's 'I Can't Explain' which takes an updated 70's turn and probably made The Who feel like relics, when they themselves were only around 30 at the time. The galloping 'Rock And Roll Dream' continues the assault and Rex's shrieking vocals highlight the aptly titled 'Violent Playground' which is as aggressive as anything recorded in 1976.

In Summary

The hard rock landscape in the U.S. was so varied in the mid 70's that it seems inconceivable now. Despite the plethora of bands occupying the scene,
'Rex' still manages to stand out to this day, capturing in no uncertain terms the grittiness of the exact year it was released in.

Its profile has never been as high as Starz's debut or albums by acts Rex toured with, like Ted Nugent or Kiss, but it measures up in all areas musically. Smith never attempted anything this heavy again after 1977's follow up 'Where Do We Go from Here' and was soon gracing the cover of every teen magazine possible. It shouldn't detract from the magnificence of 'Rex' however, an essential part of the 70's hard rock legacy.

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