:: Get Up & Get Down ::
When I was about 9 or 10, me and my best friend were cracking each other up by trying to sound black. We had heard the Ohio Players for the first time in our lives and were in awe, didn’t quite know what to make of it yet. So we were trying to say “Ow!” like the singer, taking blind stabs at this idea and attitude of funk. When we were busted moments later by my oldest brother, we were horrified with embarrassment and immediately retreated to our usual white kid voices and behavior - forever. I did not know then that he was simply trying to protect us from turning into Nevada Smith, who would eventually record “Get Up & Get Down.”
Where to begin? The mustache. The idiotic 70’s Camaro personality inexcusably dragged into 1981. The cover and album title Looking For Someone being little more than a pickup line turned into an object. It only gets worse when you flip the album over and see him there again, only shirtless this time and flashing a cheesy grin. On the back of the album Smith is also quick to credit himself first among the musicians, and over and over again - Nevada Smith: Bass, Drums, Guitar, Backup Vocals. All compositions by Nevada Smith. Produced & Engineered by Nevada Smith.
I picked this album up because I liked the wood grain tape artfully applied by the previous owner to hold the cover together, which tied in nicely with the rustic connotations of a name like Nevada. I also figured “Next To God, I Love You Best” would probably be hilarious, and perhaps “I Really, Really Love You” would also bear fruit. But the first is a boring, cloying attempt at light island music combined with utterly false “I’m a sweet, tender guy” mannerisms, surely employed in an attempt to get laid. And “I Really, Really Love You” is just a big, banal piano ballad with a chord progression, melody, lyric and vocal as exciting and original as the title suggests.
But then “Get Up & Get Down” begins. From the first line you know you’re in real trouble. Nevada Smith seems to think he’s adept at whatever he sets his hand to, and that his contrived vocal growls and ludicrous ad-libs are all that is required for a successful field trip to Funkland. He can’t wait to convey what a lighthearted, playful guy he is, and is fearlessly capable of being because he’s blindly convinced of his considerable swagger. Other than the corny lead guitar lick, the musicianship is decent, particularly Tim Crawford’s Rhodes solo, but Smith’s vocal is idiotic. If nothing else, it should serve to banish the thought of ever donning an Afro wig or attempting to adopt black phrasing for effect, even as a harmless, humorous gesture. But perhaps you figured that one out when you were 9 or 10.