Smiley Lewis

TrackSingle
Tee-Nah-NahImperial 45-5067
The Bells Are RingingImperial 45-5194
Blue MondayImperial 45-5268
Real Gone LoverImperial X5349
I Hear You KnockingImperial X5356
Bumpity BumpImperial X5356
One NightImperial X5380
Shame, Shame, ShameImperial X5418
Go On FoolImperial X5450
Last NightImperial X5676

Smiley Lewis photo

 

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Smiley Lewis playlist

 

DAVE STEPHENS’ NEW ORLEANS SCENES #10 SMILEY LEWIS

Smiley Lewis made three great records. The problem was that other artists and producers and A&R Managers recognised this fact and three great covers emerged, all of which saw a whole load more chart action and made a whole load more money than Smiley. Was he just the unluckiest guy around or maybe just not quite as good as those people who covered his records?

The answer is probably more complex than either of those questions suggest. In 1970, Charlie Gillett in “The Sound Of The City” commented:

“Imperial did not find any other black singer with adaptability comparable to Domino’s. One singer with whom the company tried, Smiley Lewis, who had in some ways been a more expressive rhythm and blues singer, apparently could not make the adjustment to the disciplined routine required of a mass entertainer.”

Good try Charlie and I think, broadly right but I’d put things slightly differently. Fats Domino was an entertainer through and through. Even in the early days when blues ruled the roost as far as rhythm and blues singers were concerned, Fats had an eye on the entertainment value of his output. In my Toppermost on the man I commented on his first record, The Fat Man (which was cut in December 1949 and hit the charts in 1950) and the highly positive stance he’d adopted to the performance of what was originally “a junkie’s lament at his desolate life” in the Champion Jack Dupree source. Fats was having none of that. Smiley’s hero was the biggest jump blues singer of them all – Big Joe Turner – but Joe sounded almost somnolent in comparison to Fats bawling out “They call, they call me the fat man”. Basic jump blues only rarely crossed over into white buyer country and Fats, aided and abetted by Dave Bartholomew, was bright enough to understand that and do something about it. 1955’s Ain’t That A Shame from Fats, but produced by Dave, was very deliberately targeted at the white market and it worked a treat; the formula was in place for hit after hit.

Curiously with the careers of the two artists running in parallel for so long at Imperial – both started within months of each other in 1949/50 and continued right up to or just before the label was sold to Liberty in 1963 – and with Dave Bartholomew at the helm for both artists, the ‘popularising’ approach used on Fats didn’t get unleashed on Smiley until relatively late in the day. It would seem that Bartholomew perceived the Lewis strength to be that of a jump blues singer/shouter in the Turner mould and, taking note of the fact that Big Joe’s records were all top five or thereabouts in the US R&B Chart from ’51 through to ’56, felt that there was room for another singer in the Big Joe style in the chart. The fact that Joe also achieved the much sought after crossover to white territory, only served to reinforce that approach.

Enough theorising, After two singles on the Colony subsidiary of Imperial plus two on Imperial itself, all written by Smiley, all of which were broadly in the Turner jump blues style, Dave came up with a song The Bells Are Ringing which was a little different. On the disc the writers were printed as O. Lemon and D. Bartholomew; Overton Amos Lemons was Smiley’s real name but whether he actually contributed to any of the writing we don’t know; the joint credit approach was utilised for a few other singles (but not the three in question) and Dave is usually seen as the actual writer of the songs. I digress; the difference was that although in the same 12 bar pattern, the tempo of “Bells” was slower than most of the tracks that preceded it, with an arrangement that featured heavily riffing saxes inducing a slightly lugubrious mood which was only marginally relieved by manic high register tripletting from the pianist. The black public liked it and the record clambered up to the #10 position in the R&B Chart.

It encouraged Dave, and two records later, at the start of 1954, he came back with a song that was many times better than the largely recycled blues riffs of “Bells” and with a fine arrangement to boot.

 

THREE GREAT RECORDS No.1

Dave didn’t pass the song to Fats until 1956 and his recording of Blue Monday came out at the tail end of that year. It topped the R&B Chart and crossed over and didn’t stop ‘til it got to #9 in the Hot 100. In sequence it was preceded by Blueberry Hill and followed by I’m Walkin’. Fats was on fire! In his “The Heart Of Rock And Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made”, Dave Marsh put Fats’ record at #122 and called it “the foundation of a rock and roll tradition of songs about hatred of the working week and lust for lost weekends”. He didn’t mention Smiley at all.

Smiley’s record did zilch. Had the Domino record never come out, Smiley wouldn’t have missed out on any money but his record would now be seen as an undiscovered gem rather than forgotten by all but a few.

No argument. The Domino record was better. Dave had added a proper intro, made the arrangement crisper and the beat beatier, and Fats himself added sparkle and those touches of playfulness he was so good at. But I rather feel that if Dave had gone into the studio again with Smiley in ’56 he could have produced something that wasn’t a million miles from the Fats classic.

 

THREE GREAT RECORDS No.2

The Bartholomew name appeared with some regularity on Smiley’s records following Blue Monday but nothing matched that record’s ability to be noticed until this one in summer ’55:

Once again I have no argument to put forward though my conclusion this time represents a shift through 180 degrees: the Lewis original of I Hear You Knocking beats the opposition hands down. Although he hadn’t put out the Domino Blue Monday yet, Dave Bartholomew seemed to have already learned some arrangement lessons which he applied to Smiley’s “Knocking”. The songs’ tempos were similar and although the later number was a blues it was one with a melody which might just catch a pop buyer’s attention. Dave brought Huey Smith in to provide an ear catching intro and the kind of hammering accompaniment that could often be heard on Domino records (and, this being 1955, would gradually be seen as a regular attribute of slow rock and roll records).

Smiley’s I Hear You Knocking peaked at #2 in the R&B Chart and stayed in the chart for four months. It might have achieved crossover but for opposition from actress turned singer, Gale Storm. Her version which bore only a limited resemblance to the original – and I don’t mean that in a positive way – seemed to hit the US public’s sweet spot, reaching the #2 position in the Hot 100. Fats made a version of the song in ’61 but it’s not worth going to YouTube for it (sorry Fats). Then, 15 years later, along came Welsh singer/guitarist and rocker Dave Edmunds with his version. It’s believed that Edmunds played all the instruments on the record apart from possibly the bass guitar (source: Wiki). He also shouts out “Smiley Lewis” in the break along with the names of other US black artists (Domino, Berry, Huey Smith). The record did incredibly well; it topped the UK Chart for six weeks, including Christmas, and achieved a #4 placing in the US. And I’ve nothing against the platter – it’s retro with invention which became something of a trend in the seventies – but for me it pales against the original with Smiley’s resigned but obdurate message delivered via such a simple but statuesque melody line with those great chunky horns and Smith’s piano adding just the right emphasis.

 

THREE GREAT RECORDS No.3

If you know Presley’s version of One Night (and who doesn’t?), then the 1956 Lewis original might well come across as undercooked.

One night of sin
Is what I’m now payin’ for
The things I did and I saw
Would make the earth stand still

The story this time was of regret not resignation – Smiley was in the wrong and, boy, did he know it – so bellowing the song from a mountain top wouldn’t have been at all appropriate. The simplistic chord sequence was one which would later appear in a thousand swamp pop records and, when associated with sometimes ponderously riffing horns, would invariably signal miserabilia. According to Wiki in a fine article on the song, Elvis was besotted (my word) with the Lewis record and wanted to record the number as he had already done with several R&B classics. The problem was the lyrics. Both his label (RCA) and manager (Colonel Tom Parker) felt they were too suggestive for a white teenage audience. So, the whole narrative and stance of the singer were changed, in part at least by Presley himself although the co-writer added to the credits was a lady called Anita Steinman. The key opening line was switched from “One night of sin is what I’m now payin’ for” to “One night with you is what I’m now praying for”. Which allowed Elvis to adopt the usual rock’n’roll position of looking forward to something with his lady with that something being not too heavily disguised rumpy pumpy. (With hindsight one wonders, was this really more acceptable?) It also allowed, or was logical, for Elvis to get a bit more excited than Smiley. In a feature on British Number One Records, the author states in reference to the vocal “Elvis’s performance is raunchy enough to suggest he’s planning on sinning anyway”.

Given the change in lyrics which effectively gave carte blanche for a change in vocal style and arrangement, the world ended up with two songs rather than one and I’m happy to call this an honourable draw. I’d add that, although the Presley record is a personal favourite, I hadn’t actually listened to it for years and it wasn’t as OTT as I recalled, particularly in light of the later Vegas performances. As an aside I’d also note that the heavy (for the time period) guitar intro and backing was a key part of the Presley record, and guitaristics also featured strongly on the Edmunds I Hear You Knocking. Guitars were a particular feature of white boy rock and roll.

 

And …

Smiley’s first record for Imperial, Tee-Nah-Nah, in April 1950, might not have stood out as much as the ones above but it wasn’t exactly your bog standard jump blues. With its nonsense style title and catchy and simple – that word again – melody plus a relaxed groove, it was more New Orleans than most of his records and could almost have been un hommage to the little chubby fellow with the creole lilt. It sold well in his home city and also made sufficient impression across southern Louisiana for it to become something of a standard. There are versions of the number by Buckwheat Zydeco and Ryan Foret and the Foret Tradition on YouTube. There was also a more contemporaneous version of the number by Harry Van(n) Walls with Brownie McGhee (operating under the pseudonym Spider Sam) on vocal on Atlantic which would have stolen some of Smiley’s sales; the practice of covering Smiley’s singles started early. This is the original:

I probably shouldn’t have used that rather derogatory phrase “bog standard jump blues” since, as already implied, it was that style of music (without the adjective) which formed the bulk of the Lewis output during his stay at Imperial, and indeed the bulk of his output in toto since he made only the tiniest handful of singles after leaving that label. And they definitely weren’t bad records even if the initial impression after a very brief run through of his catalogue might suggest a level of similarity/repetition running through. Individual singles actually competed very strongly against other exponents of the idiom like Amos Milburn, Roy Brown and Big Joe himself. Further listening also reveals greater variation from the up tempo format, from the churning Dirty Dirty People (his second single) to the slow blues cum blues ballad No No, not forgetting the one with the martial beat, Jailbird. But as representative of his near default blues shouting position I’ve selected Bumpity Bump, the flip of “Knocking” and an effort which was definitely trying to move onto Big Joe’s patch, and Real Gone Lover also from 1955, a marginally more relaxed performance but with some splendid riffing from the band and Smiley using the somewhat ambitious chat-up line, “If you love me one time, you’ll soon come back for more”.

In the later part of Smiley’s sojourn with Imperial, the label (and Dave) attempted to widen the range and style of his material in recognition of the more commercialised form of R&B, otherwise known as rock and roll, which was starting to take over the air waves. Shame, Shame, Shame from ’56, and not to be confused with several other songs with that name (see Wiki), was penned by little known writers Ken Hopkins and Ruby Fisher and had the urgency we associate with certain early Johnny Burnette records. It featured in the film Baby Doll which was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Carroll Baker, Karl Malden and Eli Wallach. The film was nominated for four Oscars; it didn’t win any but did pick up a couple of Golden Globes and a BAFTA. As usual, Smiley didn’t pick up anything more than he normally did in spite of the film attracting considerable interest/controversy, and the ear-catching qualities of the record itself.

1957’s Go On Fool was one of the rare discs in the Lewis oeuvre to actually sound like a Domino record – take away the vocal and you would have sworn this was a backing track for the fat man. Would that Dave B had done this more often. I should perhaps mention at this juncture that the studio musicians used on Smiley’s records were broadly the same as those on discs from Fats; it was the melodies and arrangements which differed.

Tucked away on the flip sides of a couple of his early sixties records were a couple of classy renditions of slow blues numbers which had been hits for their authors. His Stormy Monday Blues (a.k.a. They Call It Stormy Monday) might not have been quite as memorable as T-Bone Walker’s original or the excellent cover from Bobby Bland but certainly wasn’t to be sneezed at. One wonders, too, whether producer Bartholomew was consciously paying tribute to Walker for writing a song that could well have inspired his own Blue Monday. Last Night from Little Walter doesn’t quite share the ubiquitous qualities as “Stormy Monday” but, in its original form, is at least as good a song and performance combination as the Walker track. Dave B gives the number the full band treatment with thunderous saxes blasting away and a tripletting pianist ratchetting up the pain. It’s not quite as good as the Marion Walter Jacobs original but no one was going to match that (and it does happen to be one of my all-time favourite records).

Out of curiosity, I did look up covers of Walter’s Last Night because I hadn’t heard many. There were more than I expected but I’ll stick my head up and say that Smiley’s has to be up there as one of the best of them, if not the best. What is noticeable on both of these tracks is Smiley’s ability to mix in some light and shade in his vocal, or, nuances as we say these days, rather than placing total reliance on the full throated approach.

Stormy Monday Blues appeared on the flip side of his last Imperial single (or what would have been after he’d switched labels but Imperial kept hoping that rereleases would be good for the cash flow). Smiley’s performance on the A-side of the single was also interesting. The self-penned Tell Me Who was pitched somewhere between pop and ever-so-polite blues – hardly Smiley’s usual material but the normal stentorian tone had disappeared out the window to be replaced by something much more intimate, and effective, in terms of matching the arrangement and lyrics. Earlier experimentation along these lines from producer Bartholomew might have yielded that elusive crossover hit.

Smiley was released by Imperial somewhere between 1961 and early ’62 and his next port of call was OKeh Records, a subsidiary of Columbia. The plug side of his only single for the label, Tore Up, was a better than average example of the form of toned-down rock and roll mixed heavily with teen pop tropes which was largely the default setting for chart music in the early sixties. I think of it as in the early Bobby Darin style but with a big voice like that of Roy Brown on top. It didn’t get much promotion, didn’t get released in the UK – only three of his Imperial singles had crossed the pond at this juncture – and didn’t get the sales that I feel it deserved.

Another single followed for Dot which coupled a blues ballad, I Wonder with a blues, Looking For A Woman. The A-side was okay without having anything that would have made it really stand out, but the flip was quite intriguing. While it was something of crib, taking Howlin’ Wolf’s Forty Four as a base, it was an electric blues of the sort that was normally only heard from labels like Chess (or of the sort that white boys from the UK started hitting the US with circa ‘64/65). While the Lewis disc sounds distinctly tame in comparison to the mighty Wolf – but that’s no criticism of Smiley, who doesn’t? – what was remarkable was that it came out on a label that was so chart focussed as Dot (home of Pat Boone and Gale Storm).

In 1965, Smiley went into hospital with what he thought was an ulcer but was found to be stomach cancer. He died in October 1966.

Jeff Hannusch, a man who’s written the definitive essays on most of the New Orleans greats had these words to say about Smiley (in his Offbeat biography.

“Few people would argue that the greatest New Orleans rhythm and blues singer of all time was the late Smiley Lewis. Depending on the situation, Lewis had a voice that could lullaby an infant to sleep or shake a bottle of Jax beer off the Dew Drop’s bar. A prolific artist, between 1947 and 1965, Lewis recorded some of the most exciting and consistent New Orleans rhythm and blues ever put on wax.”

 

Smiley Lewis poster 2

 

FOOTNOTES

1. Smiley was born Overton Amos Lemons in DeQuincy, a small town near Lake Charles, Louisiana not far from the Texas border on 5th July 1913. He taught himself to play guitar and moved to New Orleans in 1931. The Jeff Hannusch article states: “Lewis’s first wife, Leona Kelly Robinson, recalled that when he got to the city, he was taken in by a white family in the Irish Channel whose last name was Lewis”. This would have been where the second part of his stage name came from. Another article on the man in Way Back Attack reports that “his ‘Smiley’ nickname came about as a joke, because he had bad teeth (a dentist took care of the problem once he started making money from his music)”.

He started off as a street singer but then found work in clubs, often accompanied by Isidore “Tuts” Washington on piano. By 1935 both were working in the Thomas Jefferson Jazz Band. After WWII, he formed a trio with Washington and drummer Herman Seale (or Seals, reports vary). In September 1947 the trio, only with drummer Herman replaced by bass man Papa John Joseph (see below), recorded a single for De Luxe Records which was credited to Smiling Lewis. Both tracks cut were blues with the A-side, Turn On Your Volume Baby something of a double entendre affair made a tad more explicit by further metaphors after the first piano break, “Now your transformer’s smoking” etc., in stop time mode. The flip, Here Comes Smiley, was pretty similar only minus the metaphorical content – or not, depending how your mind works! The BlackCat Rockabilly feature on Smiley makes the observation in relation to this single: “It is quite different from all his other recordings, due to the absence of wind instruments, giving Tuts’s piano the opportunity to shine.”

(Wiki and Way Back Attack have the bass player on the Turn On Your Volume Baby session as Papa John Joseph, Jeff Hannusch has him as Papa John French and BlackCat Rockabilly have Papa John Creach as the man. I went with the first because there was definitely a bass player of that name working in New Orleans in the period while I couldn’t find a Papa John French and Papa John Creach was a semi-famous blues violinist who, as far as I could see, didn’t work in New Orleans. None of which is really that important because I have no reports of any Papa Johns working with Smiley again.)

Smiley cut his first single for Imperial Records in March 1950. In the Jeff Hannusch article, producer Dave Bartholomew is reported as saying:

“I grew up in the same neighborhood as Smiley,” said Bartholomew. “I used to see him sing and play the guitar on his front porch. I used to say to myself, ‘If I can ever help him I will.’ I got in the position to record Smiley with Imperial and I did. He was a real good blues singer.”

2. Pianist Isidore “Tuts” Washington was one of the professors and doctors of New Orleans. In the twenties and thirties he played in jazz bands in the city and, after WWII, accompanied Smiley in a trio for a number of years, appearing on many of his records. According to Discogs he cut three albums which saw release in the eighties and nineties. This is his piano only version of Tee-Nah-Nah from Live At Tipitina’s 1978.

3. I’ve written elsewhere that Imperial Records was an L.A. based label with a focus on rhythm and blues which recorded a lot of material in New Orleans. De Luxe Records was based in New Jersey and founded (in 1944) by Hungarian Jewish brothers, David and Julius Braun. Although their scope was probably wider than that of Imperial it definitely included rhythm and blues. In 1947, the Brauns made expeditions to New Orleans in search of talent to record. Wiki reports that “Recording studio owner Cosimo Matassa said that the Braun brothers were the first talent scouts to go to New Orleans to record local musicians commercially.” In addition to Smiley, another musician to emerge from the Braun’s NOLA explorations was Roy Brown whose historically important Good Rocking Tonight was cut in October/November 1947.

4. Gale Storm – real name Josephine Owaissa Cottle – who hailed from Bloomington in Texas, started out her professional career in the early forties as a film and television actress. Several of her roles involved singing so that wasn’t an occupation which was entirely alien to her. Randy Wood, the president of Dot Records, signed her to a record contract reportedly (Wiki) after his daughter had seen her singing on a Sunday night TV variety show. Wood and Dot had already achieved a hit in early summer ’55 after plucking a number from the R&B Chart and having Pat Boone record it – that number being Ain’t That A Shame from Fats Domino – so attempting to perform a similar feat with Smiley’s I Hear You Knocking and Gale Storm was predictable for a record label that had to get hits to keep the money rolling in. I would add that Randy didn’t only have his artists cover records from black artists, the follow-up from Gale was a cover of Dean Martin’s Memories Are Made Of This. She even covered one track, Dark Moon which had been recorded with a degree of success by another Dot artist, Bonnie Guitar. This is Bonnie’s record which I’ve always liked. The song was written by Ned Miller. Ms Storm dropped her recording ‘second’ career sometime around 1958/59.

5. Wiki has an interesting article on the song I Hear You Knocking wherein they draw parallels between that number and the one made famous by Little Richard, Keep A Knockin’. While the Richard single was released in 1957, two years after Smiley’s I Hear You Knocking, the song had been around for several decades before Mr Penniman got his hands on it. Wiki point us to a version entitled Keep A Knockin’ An You Can’t Get In from James “Boodle It” Wiggins (great name) in 1928 with subsequent versions coming from people like Bob Wills, Milton Brown and Louis Jordan (who changed the melody slightly). I should point out, however, that while the linkage between the Wiggins number and the Little Richard take is clear cut, that isn’t the case with the Lewis record. Chord pattern, melody line, lyrics and overall mood differ between the two songs even if the title line is very similar. I see the songs as being different; Dave Bartholomew took the title line, possibly from the Louis Jordan version which does feature the line “I hear you knocking but you can’t come in” and created a new song around it.

6. In the text I state in relation to Smiley/Dave’s One Night song, “the simplistic chord sequence was one which would later appear in a thousand swamp pop records”. I should state that there weren’t ever “a thousand swamp pop records”. This was merely a little extra colouration added by myself for which I should apologise. And if the term “swamp pop” isn’t meaningful to the reader I would point him or her to Footnote #1 in the Rod Bernard Toppermost where I discuss and attempt to define the genre.

I’d also make the observation that Those Lonely Lonely Nights from another New Orleans artist, Earl King, had been released less than a year before Smiley’s One Night and had sold well in the Big Easy. The King record is often cited as a kind of prototype for swamp pop; it’s possible it might have influenced Dave B as songwriter on One Night though I wouldn’t dream of accusing him of any form of plagiarisation.

7. The name Pearl King also appears in the composer credits for One Night (either with Dave Bartholomew alone on the Lewis record, or with Bartholomew and Anita Steinman on the Presley one). That was the maiden name of Dave’s wife not, as I’ve seen suggested, some form of pseudonym for Earl King.

8. In 1957, Presley did record at least one take of One Night with the original lyrics. This is it. The presence of the ad libs and the relatively under-arranged backing would suggest that it was either a solitary take or one of very few.

9. The Hannusch article has a quote from Tuts Washington about the source of the song, Tee-Nah-Nah:

“That’s a song the boys used to sing in the penitentiary,” said Washington. “But Lewis was the first one to put it out. We traveled all over on that record. Everywhere we went it was on the box.”

10. Harry Van(n) Walls (also known as Vann “Piano Man” Walls and sometimes, apparently, Le Capitaine Van) was a singer, band leader, song writer and pianist who was born in Kentucky but worked extensively with the Atlantic label in New York from 1949 through to ’55. With his piano man hat on (and Wiki reports that he used to wear a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker plus cloak and pipe), he appeared on all the early Atlantic records from Joe Turner and on all of Ruth Brown’s records. He wrote or co-wrote Chains Of Love (Joe Turner), 5-10-15 Hours (Ruth Brown), One Mint Julep (The Clovers), Tomorrow Night (LaVern Baker) and more.

11. In other articles in the New Orleans series I’ve sometimes closed with a live number from the artist concerned. Given Smiley’s early death this wasn’t possible. However, as an alternative here is Belfast’s own blues shouter (and mouth harp man), Van Morrison with a little help from Jerry Lee’s sister Linda Gail Lewis, giving us his version of Real Gone Lover on TV. Although the clip doesn’t give a date, I can confirm it was from 2000 and the George referred to was George Best.

 

 

 

 

Smiley Lewis poster

Smiley Lewis (1913–1966)

 

Smiley Lewis Discography

Smiley Lewis at 45cat

Smiley Lewis biography (Apple Music)

Dave Stephens’ New Orleans scenes
#1 Fats Domino, #2 Chris Kenner, #3 Jessie Hill, #4 Barbara Lynn, #5 Benny Spellman, #6 Ernie K-Doe, #7 Irma Thomas, #8 Barbara George, #9 Earl King, #10 Smiley Lewis, #11 Professor Longhair, #12 Shirley & Lee

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Bobby Bland, Johnny Burnette, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Richard, Little Walter, Ned Miller, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker

TopperPost #851

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Mar 31, 2020

    Dave, yet another brilliantly comprehensive piece. Knew ‘I Hear You Knocking’ first through the great Dave Edmunds’ version, which was one of the most played singles in our house at one point. This fills in the rest of the Smiley story – some remarkably fine records here.

  2. Cal Taylor
    Apr 2, 2020

    Another really excellent, well researched and informative Toppermost in the New Orleans series. Top class work, Dave. Thank you.
    I think a bit of a theme runs through this series in that, apart from Fats Domino who achieved his rightful success, the artists featured all failed to get the true recognition that their talent deserved. Smiley Lewis was no exception.
    Although Smiley made other good records as well, Dave highlighted three outstanding ones; ‘Blue Monday’, ‘I Hear You Knocking’ and ‘One Night’, all originals by him that other people got to no.1 in various charts. The biggest travesty was Gale Storm’s awful, insipid, million seller cover version of ‘I Hear You Knocking’. Without that intrusion, maybe, Smiley might have been able to attract a bigger audience, enable him to crossover from the R&B to the pop charts and be known by far more people today.

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