Some things are worth waiting for. On August 18th, 2003, RPM are releasing Brett Smiley's legendary 'lost' album 'Breathlessly Brett', which should have seen the light of day in 1974. Produced by Brett's infamous manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, who discovered the Rolling Stones, 'Breathlessly Brett' has acquired mythic status over the past 3 decades, as has the enigmatic Mr. Smiley. A former child star, Brett Smiley first garnered public acclaim playing the title role in the musical 'Oliver!' on Broadway. For several years, he shared the spotlight with Monkee to be, Davy Jones, who had landed the part of the Artful Dodger. When the production eventually closed, Brett continued to work in theatre and also appeared in several television commercials but the lure of rock and roll soon beckoned.
Like Andrew Loog Oldham, Brett's first mentor, promoter Russ Gibb had a certain notoriety, having been pivotal to the 'Paul McCartney Is Dead' hoax, which rocked the music world in 1969. Twelve months later, Gibb began nurturing 16- year -old Brett's career. However, while Brett was hanging out in Gibb's hometown of Detroit, he was introduced to Andrew Loog Oldham, who promised he would get him a deal. Brett Smiley was a perfect package; not only was he beautiful, he was also a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter, and on the strength of a Polaroid and a demo cassette, Oldham got him signed to Anchor records in the U.K, for a cool $100,000.
Recording commenced on 'Breathlessly Brett' in Nashville and then New York in 1973. Although the album was Brett's debut, it also marked a critical point in Andrew Loog Oldham's trajectory, whose personality is writ large over the project. Partially inspired by Phil Spector's grandiose productions, Oldham sought to create a luscious soundtrack around Brett Smiley that invoked Hollywood and Broadway, as well as rock and roll. A top team of session players were enlisted, including pianist Ken Ascher, guitarist David Spinozza and drummer Jim Keltner, who had all worked with John Lennon, plus Frank Sinatra's musical director Don Costa, whilst Steve Marriott contributed lead guitar on the single track 'Va Va Va Voom'.
" Va Va Va Voom .A manic amalgam of vintage Marc Bolan and playful Bowie, brought to a shattering three minute climax by a brilliant Steve Marriott guitar solo and a characteristically dramatic Oldham production ."Dave Thompson, Goldmine, 1996
To coincide with the launch of 'Va Va Va Voom' b/w 'Space Ace' Brett and Andrew swanned into London in the autumn of 1974. Anchor's publicity machine began revving up with a massive poster campaign. Radio Luxembourg championed the single, Disc magazine proclaimed Brett to be 'The Most Beautiful Boy In The World', and an incredible performance on the Russell Harty TV show followed.
Alas, the distribution of the 45 was fudged and Brett Smiley slipped through the cracks of an uncaring record industry. 'Breathlessly Brett' was never released, and Andrew Loog Oldham exited, leaving an anguished Brett to rock and roll exile. Smiley returned to America, where he appeared in several films, including the soft porn musical 'The Other Cinderella' 'American Gigolo' and a TV movie 'Suzanne, The Hunted Woman.'
Despite spending some time on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Brett Smiley stayed true to his love of music and formed a band 'The Vice ' who gigged around New York. In the 1980's, he briefly hooked up with Andrew Loog Oldham again, to record some demos. His songs were as good as they'd always been. They still are. Brett Smiley continues to write, record and perform, and on August 11th, he will be playing Upstairs at the Garage, in London.
Brett's Lullaby / Highty Tighty / Space Ace / April in Paris / Solitaire / Va Va Va Voom / Run for the Sun / I want to hold your Hand / Pre-Columbian Love / Queen of hearts / I can't help myself / Over the Rainbow / Young at Heart