Picks and Pans Review: Micheal Smotherman
updated 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
The first time you heard the Beatles' Norwegian Wood or James Taylor's Sweet Baby James, you didn't have to wonder, "Gee, do I like this?" Nor will you question this astonishing talent, either Smotherman, whose only affectation is deliberately misspelling his first name, grew up on a cattle ranch in Erick, Okla. (pop. 1,363). More recently he was playing sessions in Los Angeles and Nashville before the Epic label shrewdly offered him a contract. The 10 original songs in this debut collection are full of charm. Smotherman's Nordic good looks and affecting ballads like Do I Ever Cross Your Mind and Magic Wishes are likely to make him an instant heartthrob. These aren't the typical I-hurt-you/ You-hurt-me fare, but tunes expressing mature passion. His Crazy in Love and Green Eyes, among others, are playful rockers with a jumping rhythm worthy of Fats Domino. His Fais Do Do just might inspire the greatest dance craze since Stayin' Alive. It means "to go to sleep" in Cajun and is fashioned after a lullaby, but the beat is of a sensual, infectious rumba. Freedom's Legacy, inspired by the troubles in Northern Ireland, is a touching (if familiar) lament about young men who die in other people's wars. Smotherman calls his work "Chinese cowboy songs," but by any description this is already one of the great albums of the '80s.