SMOKEY, How Far Will You Go? LP

Their first single, and the opening track on How Far Will You Go? The S&M Recordings, 1973-81, the first-ever collection of Smokey’s music released via Melbourne-based Chapter Music, was 1974’s “Leather”. A punchy BDSM anthem inspired by Smokey’s first encounter with the newly liberated sex scenes thriving in places like New York’s premier leather bar The Eagle, the song found the duo firing on all cylinders: Smokey’s vampy vocals about being tied up come together with Emmons’ jaunty pianos and drums, making for an inimitable introduction that eventually became their best-selling single, most notably joining the rotation at integral glam rock nightclub Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. The B-side, “Miss Ray”, also included on How Far Will You Go?, further pushed their representation of gay culture to the fore in the shape of a strutting ode to a drag queen Smokey lived with in Baltimore.

But despite the catchiness of those first singles, Smokey’s brazenly gay lyrics were a hard sell to the record labels that could have ushered the group into the mainstream. He and Emmons, who at the time had industry connections to boot, were laughed out of meetings with heavyweights MGM and Mercury. It became clear that despite the gay rights movement now at work across the nation, there was no room for queer artists to be themselves and become nationwide music sensations, a fact that the openly gay, similarly forward-thinking Elektra signee Jobriath would later disappointingly prove. But there was a silver lining for Smokey: It was from these consecutive rejections that S&M Recordings was born, essentially serving as a hearty fuck you to the music industry that didn’t want to provide a platform for them, right down to the label’s shamelessly homo emblem: a burly, muscled arm with leather cuffs, S and M tattooed on the bicep.


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SKU: 11023 Category: