Michael’s 5 Star Review – Maverick UK – Mar/April 2013

Review in Maverick
by Arthur Wood

Michael Smith


Bird Avenue Music


Download pdf Michael Smith_Old Man Dancing

Maverick site http://www.maverick-country.com/#/new-issue/4544355335



“Simply a master class in folk-pop songwriting, recording and production, destined to be listened to again and again”

OLD MAN DANCING is Chicago-based
Michael Peter Smith’s first solo studio
recording since ANTHOLOGY ONE (2005)
and the first since THERE (2000) to entirely

embrace previously unrecorded material.
On this nine-song collection, Smith’s detail rich
tales engage with fact and fiction. It’s
essential that I reveal from the get-go that
every instrument (6 and 12 string acoustic
guitars, electric guitars (c/w fuzzbox),
Dobro, bass, drums, percussion) you hear
was played by Michael Peter, plus, he’s the
only lead, secondary and support vocalist.

The front of the LP style card liner is graced
by Old Man Dancing #3, a painting by
octogenarian Chicago-bred and based
artist Leopold Segedin. A mere decade
younger, Smith becomes a lithe youngster
as he skips energetically through the sonic

wonderland that is his OLD MAN DANCING.

Accokeek recalls the late April 2004
murder of computer programmer Bill
McGuire by Melanie, his nurse/wife of five
years. Having drugged Bill, Melanie shot
him twice, but that was simply insufficient.
She desired every single pound of flesh!
So, his dismembered body found a final
resting place in three pieces of Samsonite
luggage. Having driven to Accokeek near
Chesapeake Bay, Melanie tossed the cases
from a bridge. Mrs McGuire is currently
serving a 75-year life sentence. Employing
lyrical black comedy relative to Bill’s
dismembering and disposal, Smith adds
numerous adroit asides including: ‘Got him
demonstrating Samsonite, quite against his
will’ and ‘He wants to get himself together

The line ‘Well, well, well, could this
be Helen and Gene’s son’ is the fulcrum
around which the gloriously melodic and
autobiographical Sure Has Grown hinges.
Having heard this tune, as you stride briskly
through your neighbourhood the following
day, this is assuredly the tune you’ll find
yourself unconsciously humming.

Ghost Of Lash LaRue recalls the popular
western motion picture star of the 1940s
and 1950s, while the dark hued Ballad Of

Dorian Gray brings to life the suffocating
nightmare of the doomed libertarian in
Oscar Wilde’s only published novel, THE

American Roger Maris (d. 1985) was a right-fielder
who from 1957 through 1968 played Major
League Baseball. During the 1961 season
UK. Maris scored sixty-one home runs for the
New York Yankees. Maris’ record stood for
the next thirty-seven years, although as
Smith points out, these days, America’s
national pastime is plagued by ‘muscle
bound clowns’ whose skill is fuelled by ‘a
needle or a pill.’ Listen to the layered use
of stringed instruments on Roger Maris and
simply marvel and delight at the work of a

Having exchanged his recording studio
wall of sound’ for the four walls of a
prison cell, at a few seconds over seven
minutes duration Ballad Of Phil Spector
is the longest selection. Irony rich, the
lyric focuses on Spector’s predilection for
employing firearms in every one of life’s
decision making processes. But, as Smith
astutely points out: ‘They have yet to
make a gun that can persuade dead girls
to live.’

Best remembered for his portrayal
of gangsters, almost as penance (in song)
for the years he prowled the dark end of
the street, employing a spoken delivery,
Smith paints the Romanian born actor
Edward G. Robinson
into three real-life
scenarios. Therein the actor appears as
the most public spirited, helpful, generous
benefactor any human being could wish to

The mining town of Pittston, PA was
home to Smith’s paternal grandparents.
Established in 1864, the Pittston Stove
Company manufactured coal and woodburning
stoves for homes. A warm and cozy
album closing ballad, Pittston Stove finds
Smith recalling his childhood and the central,
stabilising role the stove played in family life.

Arthur Wood