Frankie Miller


Band members                             Related acts

  line up  1 (1972)

- Bob Andrews -- keyboards, accordion, backing vocals

- Ian Gomm -- guitar

- Nick Lowe -- bass, backing vocals

- Frankie Miller -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Bill Rankin -- drums, percussion

- Brinsley Schwartz -- lead guitar

 

  line up  2 (1974)

- Barry Bailey -- guitar 

- Auburn Burnell - guitar 

- G.C Coleman -- drums 

- Mike Huey -- drums 

- Frankie Miller -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Tom Robb -- bass, percussion 

- Allen Toussaint -- keyboards, percussion 

- Joe Wilson -- lead guitar 

 

  line up  3 (1975)

- Henry McCullough (RIP) -- lead guitar 

- Frankie Miller -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Stu Perry -- drums, percussion

- Chrissie Stewart -- bass 

- Mick Weaver -- keyboards

 

  line up 4 (1976-77)

- Graham Deacon -- drums, percussion

- James Hall -- keyboards

- Charlie Harrison --- bass

- Frankie Miller -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Ray Minhinnit -- lead guitar

 

  line up 5 (1978)

 

Frankie Miller - vocals, guitar Ray Russell - guitar Ian Gomm - guitar Chrissy Stewart - bass guitar Paul Carrack - keyboards, backing vocals BJ Wilson - drums Martin Drover - trumpet, flugelhorn Chris Mercer - baritone & tenor saxophones Richard Supa - backing vocals Eric Troyer - backing vocals Steven Tyler - backing vocals, harmonica on 4, 6, 9, 10 Karen Lawrence - backing vocals Lonnie Groves - backing vocals

  line up ? (1985)

- Simon Kirke -- drums

- Frankie Miller -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Brian Robertson -- lead guitar

- Chrissie Stewart -- bass

  

  supporting musicians

- Jimmy Brawlower -- percussion

- Ricky Byrd -- guitar

- Hiram Bullock -- guitar

- Robbie Kilgore -- keyboards

- Jimmy Maelin -- percussion

- Mitch Perry -- guitar

- Tim Renwick -- guitar

- Chris Spedding -- guitar

- Mitch Watkins -- guitar

- Peter Wood -- keyboards

 

  supporting musicians

Producer, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer, Mixer, Associated Performer, Synthesizer: David Mackay Studio Personnel, Mixer, Mastering Engineer: Jerry Stevenson Associated Performer, Vocals: Frankie Miller Associated Performer, Vocals: Joe Walsh Associated Performer, Guitar: Geoff Whitehorn Associated Performer, Bass Guitar: Chris Stewart Associated Performer, Drums, Percussion: Robert Jenkins Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Simon Parrish Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Lenny Zakatek Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Lorraine Crosby Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Stuart Emerson Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Ashley Kingsley Associated Performer, Background Vocalist: Kate Coyston

 

 

- Sara Beth and Frankie Miller

- Jude

- The Stoics

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars *^**

Title:  Once In a Blue Moon

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR-1036

Year: 1973

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: US pressing cut lower left corner 

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1562

Price: $15.00

 

 

I was 16 and a junior in high school when I first heard Frankie Miller (a track off of "The Rock").  I can still remember the moment some 34 years later.  Funny think is that I can't make that statement about many other things in my life ...  getting married, birth of my kids, death of a parent.  That's about it.

 

Seen by some as an overnight success, Miller had actually been a working musician for six years by the time he recorded his 1973 solo debut "Once In a Blue Moon".   Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Miller was blessed with a truly soulful voice that effortless echoed the likes of Soloman Burke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and other sterling soulsters.  He turned professional in 1967, but didn't make much headway until he relocated to London in 1971.  In London he found a mentor in the form of ex-Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower who invited him to join the newly formed Jude (the lineup rounded out by drummer Clive Bunker and bassist Jim Dewar).  Sadly Jude quickly fell victim to personality conflicts and dreaded differences in musical direction, leaving Miller to return to the pub circuit where he occasionally teamed up with fellow pub rockers Brinsley Schwarz.  

 

Helped in part by Brinsley Schwartz own breakthrough success, 1972 saw Miller signed by Chrysalis.  Released the following year, he made his debut with the Dave Robinson produced "Once In a Blue Moon".  As a debut collection this set had it all going for it.  Miller was responsible for penning the majority of the ten tracks (two covers).  His growl of a voice was in prime form, and the album enjoyed first-rate backing from the criminally overlooked Brinsley Schwarz who managed to inject a sense of enthusiasm that was sadly lacking on their own first couple of releases.  Most folks would kill to debut with something half as good.

 

"Once In a Blue Moon" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Don't Need To Laugh (To Be Happy)   (Frankie Miller) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

'You Don't Need To Laugh (To Be Happy)' served as the perfect introduction to his instantly identifiable voice.  A mid-tempo rocker with a great hook in the chorus, the only criticism was the female backing chorus who sounded as if they were reading the lyrics as the were singing.

2.) I Can't Change It   (Frankie Miller) - 3:08   rating: *** stars

Even though it was stark, the acoustic ballad 'I Can't Change It' was a great showcase for Miller.  Again, the only complaint were the female backing vocals who were simply distracting.

3.) Candlelight Sonata In 'F' Major   (Frankie Miller) - 2:32   rating: **** stars

In spite of the title, 'Candlelight Sonata In 'F' Major' was a growling slice of R&B-flavored soul.  Fantastic song with a great boogie woogie keyboard solo from Bob Andrews.  This is what Joe Cocker always wanted to do.  Only complaint was that the song faded out just as Brinsley Schwarz's guitar solo was starting to take off.    

4.) Ann Eliza Jane   (Frankie Miller) - 2:03   rating: ** stars

 Not one of my favorites, 'Ann Eliza Jane' sounded like something he might have been performing in Scottish pubs.  Complete with accordion and harmonica arrangement, this one was simply a little to country for my tastes.   

5.) It's All Over   (Frankie Miller) - 2:37   rating: **** stars

A conventional rocker 'It's All Over' brought it all together into what could have been a massive radio hit - great rocking tune; great playing; great vocal, and it sounded like they were having a ton of fun too boot.    

 

(side 2)
1.) In No Resistance   (Frankie Miller) - 3:40   rating: **** stars

Propelled by another tasty Schwarz guitar solo and some wonderful Billy Rankin drumming, side two opened up with what was the most commercial song on the album - 'In No Resistance'.    

2.) After All (I Live My Life)   (Frankie Miller - J. Doris) - 3:41   rating: **** stars

With a Gospel-ish feel, 'After All (I Live My Life)' found Miller turning in his best Otis Redding imitation.  Another album highlight ...  

3.) Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues   (Bob Dylan) - 4:00   rating: ** stars

The first big mistake, Miller's cover Dylan's 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' was needless and sounded like a throwaway effort.  

4.) Mail Box   (Frankie Miller) - 3:13   rating: *** stars

It might be a little too cutesy for some folks, but 'Mail Box' was a perfect example of how commercial Miller could be.  Insidiously catchy track that was very hard to shake once you heard it.   

5.) I'm Ready   (Willie Dixon) - 3:09   rating: ** stars

Folks tend to turn in rote covers of Willie Dixon material.  Miller's version wasn't a major departure, but included an interesting jazzy feel.  Nice harmonica solo.

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Frankie Miller's Highlife

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR-1052

Year: 1974

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: US pressing w/textured cover 

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5210

Price: $20.00

 

 

While UK blues singers are a dime a dozen, Frankie Miller is something special (okay he's actually Scottish).  Miller's certainly not the most talented of the lot and gawd knows he hasn't been the most successful.  Still, his multitude of personal and professional flaws simply make him all the more sympathetic and the fact remains ... the man can sure sing.

 

Miller's sophomore release served an interesting collaboration.  Recorded in New Orleans and Atlanta's Web Studios, 1974's "Frankie Miller's Highlife" teamed Miller with famed producer Allen Toussaint.  The strange pairing was reportedly a result of Miller having sent Toussaint a copy of his debut LP.  Unfamiliar with Miller, Toussaint was nevertheless impressed by his voice and was more than happy to work on Miller's second LP.  On the surface the partnership wouldn't seem to have had much going for it, but that wasn't the case.  Toussaint's oversight and songwriting skills (he provided seven of the twelve selections) proved mostly well suited to Miller's gruff, blues-oriented vocals with material like the all-too-brief title track, 'Trouble' and 'Devil's Gun' serving as first rate R&B-influenced rock. Every time I hear the bluesy 'I'm Falling In Love Again' I'm amazed Miller wasn't some 75 year old black guy hanging around a deep Alabama country store...  Sure, there were a couple of duds - 'I'll Take a Melody' and 'Just a Song' were simply too lightweight for Miller.  This was also one of those rare instances where horns didn't detract from the proceedings.  While the album generated strong reviews from the critics, it did little commercially.  Of course that didn't stop Three Dog Night from enjoying a hit with their rote cover of 'Brickyard Blues', while Betty Wright grabbed 'Shoorah Shoorah' for an R&B hit.  For some reason Chrysalis elected to slap a new, exceptional dull cover on the LP (not that the original UK Miller photo which made Miller look like Tiny Tim's brother was any great shakes.)

 

UK pressing cover

Chrysalis catalog number CHR 1052

 

"Frankie Miller's Highlife" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Highlife   (Allen Toussaint) - 0:58

2.) Brickyard Blues   (Allen Toussaint) - 3:35

3.) Trouble   (Frankie Miller) - 3:30

4.) A Fool   (Allen Toussaint) - 2:52

5.) Little Angel (Smile On Her Face)   (Frankie Miller) - 3:20

6.) With You In Mind   (Allen Toussaint) - 3:18

 

(side 2)
1.) Devil's Gun   (Frankie Miller) - 3:37

2.) I'll Take a Melody   (Allen Toussaint) - 4:35

3.) Just a Song   (Allen Toussaint) - 2:48

4.) Shoorah Shoorah   (Allen Toussaint) - 2:47

5.) I'm Falling In Love Again   (Frankie Miller) - 3:57

6.) With You In Mind (instrumental)   (Frankie Miller) - 0:57

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Rock

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR-1088

Year: 1975

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo sticker on cover

Available:  1

Catalog ID: 5731

Price: $15.00

 

The first Frankie Miller album I ever bought and some 30 plus years later I still love it.  I can still remember arguing with friends that Miller was far superior to Bob Seger (whom I also dearly love), and easily as good as Steve Gibbons (who few Americans ever heard).  I also recall using this album to argue that white guys could be born with true soul; not that anyone listened to me then (or now).

 

1975 found Miller recruiting a full time backing band for the cleverly named Frankie Miller Band.  The original line-up featured ex-Wings guitarist Henry McCulloch, drummer Stu Perry, ex-Spooky Tooth bassist Chrissie Stewart, and keyboardist Mick Weaver.  Interestingly, this time out Miller's apparent goal was to capture a sound recalling Stax's golden days.  With that goal why he wanted to record the set in San Francisco with hard rock producer Elliott Mazier has always struck me as kind of a mystery.  Showcasing a set of Miller originals ('A Fool In Love' co-written with Free's Andy Fraser), "The Rock" was far from the perfect Miller album, but the man was so friggin' talented his occasional missteps were worth putting up with.  

 

"The Rock" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) A Fool in Love    (Frankie Miller - Andy Fraser) - 3:02    rating: **** stars

A Miller original, 'A Fool in Love' captured that classic Stax sound perfectly.  Fantastic song that would have been a massive hit had it been released in the mid-1960s.  Hard to believe this guy wasn't born and raised in some backwater Mississippi farming town ...   A stunning opener, Chrysalis tapped it as a single:

- 1975's 'A Fool In Love' b/w 'I Know Why the Sun Don't Shine' (Chrysalis catalog number CRS-2108)   YouTube has a live performance of the song, though the speeded-up arrangement is a bit disappointing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdVAV3eKN6E 

2.) The Heartbreak   (Frankie Miller) - 4:01    rating: **** stars

Backed by some razor sharp horn arrangements and a killer groove, 'The Heartbreak' was another Stax-influenced effort, though this time out with a harder rock edge and a great McCulloch lead.  And that voice ...  simply an amazing performance.   Might be my choice for the album's standout effort.  

3.) The Rock   (Frankie Miller) - 3:32   rating: ** stars

I wouldn't call it a mistake, but 'The Rock' was a little too country for my tastes.  Another nice McCulloch solo ...  In case you were wondering, the album title was inspired by Alcatraz prison which was within sight of the recording studio.  YouTube has a performance clip of Miller doing 'The Rock':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxg_89LqAUI   

4.) I Know Why the Sun Don't Shine   (Frankie Miller) - 5:59   rating: *** stars

Normally straightforward blues don't do a great deal for me, but Miller's one of the few artists that makes the genre palatable to my ears.  There wasn't a single original note or thought in 'I Know Why the Sun Don't Shine', but Miller's throat tearing performance made this one a keeper. 

5.) Hard on the Levee   (Frankie Miller) - 3:15   rating: **** stars

Evidenced by 'Hard on the Levee' Miller was at his best on bluesy numbers that also exhibited a commercial edge.  Great track.   

 

(side 1)
1.) Ain't Got No Money   (Frankie Miller) - 2:53    rating: **** stars

Side two opened up with another classic Miller rocker in the form of 'Ain't Got No Money'.  Kicked along by Miller's growling voice and a wonder McCulloch solo it's simply hard to understand how this one missed being a massive hit.   YouTube has a blazing performance of the tune taken from an appearence on the German Rockpalast television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVgI-9PW2qc 

2.) All My Love to You   (Frankie Miller) - 5:35   rating: ** stars

Another deep soul ballad, there wasn't anything wrong with 'All My Love to You' except for the fact it found Miller trying to channel the late Otis Redding.  No matter how good Miller was, he simply couldn't match the king of soul.    

3.) I'm Old Enough   (Frankie Miller) - 4:50     rating: *** stars

Back to bluesy-rockers with 'I'm Old Enough'.  Wonderful showcase for Miller's raspy and instantly recognizable voice.    

4.) Bridgeton   (Frankie Miller) - 4:45

5.) Drunken Nights in the City    (Frankie Miller) - 3:51   rating: ** stars
Unfortunately the album closed with a pair of stark country-blues number that didn't do much for me - 'Bridgeton' and 'Drunken Nights in the City.

 

Executive summary - not the classic Miller album (read the rest of the reviews to see my choices), but on my top three list with five of the ten songs being worth repeated spins.  Not a bad batting average for anyone !

 

   

 


 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Full House

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR 1128

Year: 1977

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available:  2

Catalog ID: 1001

Price: $10.00

 

So If I had to pick one Frankie Miller album for a long car ride, I'm pretty comfortable it would be 1977's "Full House".   Produced by Chris Thomas, it isn't that this album is all that different from the rest of Miller's catalog, rather, song for song, this is probably his most consistently enjoyable release.   In fact, to my ears there's only one disappointment in the form of the forgettable 'Love Letters'.    This collection also had a couple of other things going for it - chiefly the added bonus of showcasing Miller's frequently overlooked gifts as a songwriter.  Five of the ten tracks were Miller originals (one co-written with former Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower).   Backed by a wonderful band, including guitarist Ray Minhinnit (Chris Spedding sitting in on a couple of tracks), Miller seldom sounded as comfortable and impressive as on this album.   So how do you pick highlights off of such an accomplished collection ?  You don't.   Asides from the previously mentioned 'Love Letters' (which was released as an English single), side one was non-stop great.   Side two started out with another okay tune in the form of 'Take Good Care of Yourself ' and then closed out with an incredible series of four strong compositions.  Simply one of the best things Miller ever released and well worth tracking down.

 

"Full Hlouse" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Be Good To Yourself   (Andy Fraser) - 3:00  rating: **** stars

'Be Good To Yourself opened up the album with Miler at his best - great rockin' tune (by Free bassist Andy Fraser) with his instantly recognizable voice (imagine a Scottish version of Bob Seger) up front and center.   The track was released as an English single and promptly went top-30, providing him with his first hit.  Naturally US radio wanted nothing to do with the song.    YouTube has several live performances of the song; probably the best being this 1978 BBC Sight and Sound in Concert effort: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXGhYRM_BNM 

2.) The Doodle Song  (Frankie Miller) - 2:45  rating: **** stars

Simply one of the most commercial things the man ever wrote, this was the tune Chrysalis grabbed for an American single.   It actually charted top-100 (# 71), but should have done even better with its instantly catchy melody.   

3.) Jealous Guy  (John Lennon) - 4:40  rating: **** stars

Kudos to Miller for being brave enough to tackle a Lennon song - particular one as personal as 'Jealous Guy'.   Even more impressive were the results - Miller seemingly channeling his best Otis Redding moves on a dazzling cover of the tune.   Easily one of the best covers of a Lennon solo effort that I've ever heard.  

4.) Searching   (Pete Knight - Bob Johnson) - 4:48  rating: **** stars

Opening up with what was almost a Baroque string arrangement.  I remember hearing this the first time and being completely puzzled and not that impressed.  Luckily the song's considerable charms quickly came into focus - in fact, stripped of the usual rock band accompaniment this song served as a wonderful opportunity to hear just how good Miller's voice was.   And the chorus was to-die-for good.  

5.) Love Letters   (Victor Young - Edward Hayman) - 3:56   rating: ** stars

Side one's lone disappointment, 'Love Letters' was a bland mid-tempo, blues-rocker that sounded like it had been arranged for radio play.   Miller sounded good enough, but the song was simply bland.   YouTube has a Top of the Pops performance of the song at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzjoOIw8smc  

(side 1)
1.) Take Good Care of Yourself    (Jimmy Doris) - 3:13
   rating: *** stars

Nice, bluesy number that again showcased some of Miller's Stax/Otis Redding influences.

2.) Down the Honky Tonk   (Frankie Miller) - 3:06

Up-tempo rocker and one of the best performances on the album.   Geez, what did he do to get that gruff sound out of his voice ?   Swallow razor blade ?  Gargle with pebbles ?   Amazing.  Simply amazing.   

3.) This Love of Mine   (Frankie Miller - Robin Trower) - 2:46   rating: **** stars

Co-written with guitarist Robin Trower, 'This Love of Mine' may be the best Otis Redding song Redding never actually recorded.   You just had to wonder how a scrawny white Scottish guy could sound so soulful.   Wonderful Stax-influenced ballad and with support from the Memphis Horns, it was another album highlight.

4.) Let the Candlelight Shine   (Frankie Miller) - 2:48   rating: **** stars

The breezy ballad' Let the Candlelight Shine' was one of the prettier tunes Miller ever wrote.  With a lovely solo from Chris Spedding, the result was very commercial and would have made a dandy single. 

5.) (I'll Never) Live In Vain   (Frankie Miller) - 2:54   rating: **** stars

'(I'll Never) Live In Vain' found Miller and company returning to up-tempo rock which I've always thought was his strong point.   Sounding a bit like a Delbert McClinton effort, with the Memphis Horns again providing support, it was simply hard to understand how this one was overlooked as a single.  

 

As mentioned, the album spun off a couple of singles.  

 

 

 In the States the 45 was:

 

- 1977's 'The Doodle Song' b/w (I'll Never) Live In Vain' (Chrysalis catalog number CHS 2145

 

In the UK and throughout Europe the singles were:

 

- 1977's 'Be Good To Yourself' b/w 'Down the Honkytonk' (Chrysalis catalog number CHS 2147)

- 1977's 'Love Letters' b/w 'Let the Candlelight Shine' (Chrysalis catalog number CHS 2166)

 

Gawd only knows why, but a single was also released in Barbados:

 

- 1977's 'This Love of Mine' b/w 'Let the Candlelight Shine' (Chrysalis catalog number 8611)

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Double Trouble

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR 1174

Year: 1978

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available:  1

Catalog ID: 1001

Price: $10.00

 

Having spent the better part of a year touring the United States, upon their return to the UK, Frankie Miller and Full House collapsed.  That left Miller to continue on as a solo act.  At the same time Chrysalis Records apparently thought Miller was ready for the big time.  In preparation for his fifth studio album Miller was flown to New York where he was teamed with producer Jack Douglas; then a hot commodity based on his recent successes with Aerosmith and Cheap Trip.  With his Full House backing band history, the recording sessions teamed Miller with an all-star cast of musicians include Ace keyboardist/singer Paul Carrack, sessions guitarist Ray Russell, bassist Chrissy Stewart, and Procol Harum drummer B.J. Wilson.  The collection offered up a mixture of covers and originals, with five tracks co-written by Miller and Carrack.  Exemplified by songs like 'Have You Seen Me Lately Joan', 'Double Heart Trouble' and 'Love Waves', the spotlight was clearly on Miller's awesome blues-rock voice.  Reviews drew comparisons to the likes of Delbert McClinton, Bad Company's Paul Rogers and Bob Seger.  The comparison's were somewhat apt, but Miller was more than a clone.   Hard to put your finger on it, but part of the difference may have been Miller's Scottish burr accent.  It wasn't super heavy, but it was there.  It was much more obvious when you heard Miller speak.  You also got the feeling that the hard living, hard drinking Miller had hands-on experiences with some of the topics he sang about - '(I Can't) Breakaway.'   So this time out there were three awesome tracks; five okay performances and a couple of misses.  The results were consistent enough to make for a great Miller LP, but it was worth tracking down at the right price.

Aerosmith's Steve Tyler provided backing vocals on four of the songs, but his unique voice was all but invisible in the mix.

"Double Trouble" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Have You Seen Me Lately Joan   (Frankie Miller) - 2:13  rating: **** stars

For the life of me I've never understood the way record labels select singles. 'Have You Seen Me Lately Joan' is a perfect example.  Showcasing Miller's awesome voice, the bouncy, up-tempo rocker just screamed for airplay and of course Chrysalis wanted nothing to do with it.  Recorded at a 1978 appearance on the BBC's Sight and Sound television program, YouTube has a performance of the song at: HAVE YOU SEEN ME LATELY, JOAN? - FRANKIE MILLER (BBC Live 1978) - YouTube

2.) Double Heart Trouble  (Andy Fraser) - 3:23  rating: **** stars

The first of two Andy Fraser covers, the blues-rocker 'Double Heart Trouble' found Miller giving Bad Company and Free an energetic run for their money.  Opening up with B.J. Wilson crushing some drums, as good as the Fraser original was, Miller's cover also crushed it.  Another track where you just had to wonder if anyone at Chrysalis was actually listening to the album.

3.) The Train   (Frankie Miller - Paul Carrack) - 3:54  rating: *** stars

'The Train' was a pedestrian blues-rocker with the addition of Russell's nice guitar work and some perky Stax horns from Martin Drover and Chris Mercer.

4.) You'll Be In My Mind   (Frankie Miller - Paul Carrack - Ray Russell - Jack Douglas) - 3:20  rating: *** stars

Upping the rock quotient, 'You'll Be In My Mind' sounded like producer Douglas had injected a touch of Aerosmith's top-40 influences into the sessions.  The song was actually pretty good, but the cluttered guitars and chirpy backing vocalists didn't do Miller any favors.

5.) Good Time Love  (Frankie Miller - Paul Carrack) - 5:00   rating: ** stars

There's nothing wrong with a big ballad.  'Good Time Love' was a nice showcase for Miller's raspy voice, but the tune also sounded a bit calculated.  Another track where it wasn't too hard to imagine Steven Tyler taking a crack at the tune.

(side 1)
1.) 
Love Waves  (Frankie Miller - Paul Carrack) - 2:57  rating: **** stars

Courtesy of Steve Tyler, I'm not a big fan of harmonica-in-rock, but I make it exception for the bouncy 'Love Waves.'  Admittedly the song sounded like it had been stitched together from a series of other songs, but it was energetic and sounded even better after a couple of beers. 

2.) (I Can't) Breakaway   (Frankie Miller - Paul Carrack) - 4:23  rating: *** stars

Built on a bouncy, horn powered melody, '(I Can't) Breakaway' injected a Stax-styled soul component into Miller's delivery.  Nice musical niche to highlight Miller's vocal chops.  The tune also gave Ray Russell a chance to showcase his lead guitar chops.

3.) Stubborn Kind of Fellow  (Marvin Gaye - William "Mickey" Stevenson - George Gordy) - 3:01  rating: ** stars

I'm a big Motown fan.  I'm a big Marvin Gaye fan.  That said, the decision to cover one of Gaye's biggest hits was curious.  It was even odder given Miller's arrangement wasn't drastically different from the original.  You were left wondering what was the point? Here's another Sight and Sound live performance:  STUBBORN KIND OF FELLOW - FRANKIE MILLER (BBC Live 1978) - YouTube  Why Chrysalis elected to tap it as a single is equally mysterious.

- 1978's 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow' b/w 'Good Time Love' (Chrysalis catalog number CHS-2223)

4.) Love Is All Around   (Andy Fraser) - 4:59  rating: *** stars

The second Andy Fraser cover, MIller's arrangement lost some of the original's dark edge.  The cover was nice enough, but in this case I'd give the nod to Fraser's original (where he sounded remarkably like Paul Rorgers). My goodness Wilson  certainly got a big sound out of his kit ...  

5.) Goodnight Sweetheart  (Ray Noble - Jimmy Campbell - Reg Connelly) - 4:04  rating: *** stars

Miller's cover of the 30s' classic 'Goodnight Sweetheart' closed the album with a return to a heavier blues mode.  Actually it sounded kind of like a closing time at the local pub sing-along.  Here's another Sight and Sound performance: Frankie Miller Goodnight Sweetheart - YouTube

 

 

 

 


I'd love to tell you I adored this album.  Unfortunately I don't.  At the same time I certainly can't criticize Miller for trying to update his sound to accommodate the fickle and every changing audience's tastes.  So this time around with backing from a new label (Mercury), Miller set his sights on an AOR orientation.  And why not since it seems to have earned radio play for far less talented bands.  That said, 1985's "Dancing In the Rain" was a major disappointment.  Producer John Jansen seemed determined to bury Miller in a state-of-the-art AOR sound, complete with banks of synthesizers, clinically correct sax solos, and irritatingly flat and mechanical sounding drums.  It may all have been cutting edge in 1985, but today the results sound extremely dated and aurally harsh.  Jansen also seemed determined to suppress Miller's instantly recognizable voice, seemingly asking him to mimic a slew of has-been acts.  For his part Miller didn't do himself any favors by turning in a surprisingly bland collection of original material.  The album was also kind of strange in that Miller co-wrote the majority of material with American songwriter Jeff Barry.  One would have thought a collaboration with Barry would have yielded some highly commercial tracks, but that wasn't the case.

 

 

"Dancing In the Rain" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) I'd Lie To You For Your Love (Frankie Miller - David Bellamy - Howard Bellamy - Jeff Barry) - 3:07 
  rating: *** stars

Even though it didn't come close to matching past glories, 'I'd Lie To You For Your Love' was probably the best song on the collection.  An up tempo rocker, it was also one of the few performances where Miller sounded like he was actually having fun.  In the States Mercury tapped this as a 12" single:

- 1986's 'I'd Lie To You For Your Love'  b/w 'I'd Lie To You For Your Love' (Mercury catalog number Pro-399-1)   YouTube has a clip of Miller performing the tune: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxg_89LqAUI

2.) Do It Till We Drop (Frankie Miller - Jeff Barry) - 4:05   rating: ** stars

'Do It Till We Drop' showcased a hard edged AOR sound that saw Miller abandoning any shred of originality.  This could have easily been mistaken for Paul Rodgers fronting the Power Station.  No, that wasn't a good thing !!!  The track was tapped as a 12" single:

- 1986's 'Do It Until We Drop'  b/w 'Do It Until We Drop' (Mercury catalog number Pro-417-1)    

3.) That's How Long My Love Is (Frankie Miller - Jeff Barry) - 2:57   rating: ** stars

Jeff Barry's written some classic pop and rock tunes, but this time out he seems to have decided to coast on past efforts, or at least try to stitch together material from the lamest clichés he could find.  'That's How Long My Love Is' definitely deserved some credit in the cliché department.  For goodness sakes, this one sounded like an Eddie Money track !!!   Courtesy of YouTube, here's a live performance of the song:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXKYwtsNN4g    

4.) How Many Tears Can You Hide (Frankie Miller - Graham Lyle) - 4:17   rating: ** stars

About the kindest thing I could say about 'How Many Tears Can You Hide' was that it sounded like a Rod Stewart castoff.  Even Miller's fantastic voice was lost amidst this hideous slice of faux-soul.  It was also one of the tracks where the flat mid-1980s production was most obvious.    

5.) Dancing In the Rain (Frankie Miller) - 3:27  rating: *** stars

The title track was a tad better.   Sporting a bit of Caribbean flavor the results sounded like Rod Stewart teaming up with 10cc.  Way too cute and irritating, though the title track kind of clogged your memory banks. 


(side 1)
1.) Shakey Ground (Jeffrey Bowen - Eddie Hazel - Al Boyd) - 3:37  rating: *** stars

The only non-original, Miller's AOR cover of the funk classic 'Shakey Ground' wasn't a radical departure from the original, but was still one of the better efforts on the LP.    

2.) The Boys and the Girls Are Doing It (Frankie Miller - Jeff Barry) - 3:28  rating: *** stars

'The Boys and the Girls Are Doing It' actually had some commercial potential in one of those vapid top-40 fashions.  I could at least hum along with it.   Another YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmrZNYpJ2g0     

3.) Game of Love (Frankie Miller) - 3:52   rating: ** stars

'Game of Love' found Miller going back to Paul Rodgers and Bad Company mode.  It actually suited him well and was far better than some of the more metal oriented numbers.  What was with the irritating back up singers?

4.) Gladly Go Blind (Frankie Miller - Jeff Barry) - 4:00   rating: * star

Apparently intended as the album's big ballad, 'Gladly Go Blind' was simply bland and forgettable.  

5.) You're a Puzzle I Can't Put Down (Frankie Miller - Jeff Barry) - 3:18   rating: **** stars

The best of the Jeff Barry collaborations, 'You're a Puzzle I Can't Put Down' stood as an example of what might have been.  The track showcased Miller's great voice in a catchy and highly commercial framework.  Easily the best effort on the album.

 

Given his August 1994 brain hemorrhage and his remarkable recovery, at least as of the time I'm writing this, the collection stands as a sad pause in Miller's recording career.

 

 

 

 

Dutch picture sleeve Mercury catalog number 8848477

'How Many Tears Can You Hide'' b/w 'The Boys and the Girls Are Doing It'

 



 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Frankie Miller's Double Take

Company: Universal

Catalog: 02547 94426 9

Year: 2016

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available:  1

Catalog ID: 31200

Price: $30.00

 

I first heard Frankie Miller while attending high school in Brussels, Belgium.  I think I heard him on Radio Caroline (the song that caught my attention was his cover of Andy Fraser's 'Be Good To Yourself') and can remember thinking Miller sounded a lot like Bob Seger, but different edge - must have been that Scottish twinge.  Anyhow, I've been a fan for the last three + decades.

 

Miller's 1994 stroke left him in a coma for five months and when he woke up, both his speech and mobility had been severely impacted.  That seemingly brought his career to an end.  Luckily Miller's myriad of friends stepped into the gap.  Long time admirer Rod Stewart asked Miller producer David Mackay to see if there were unreleased songs he might cover.  Engineer Richard Allen visited Miller's wife Annette and came back with a pair of garbage bags holding roughly 40 tapes (representing a wide variety of tape formats).  Months of work allowed Mackay and Allen to acquire the playback machines necessary to actually hear the demos.  Working with sound engineer Jerry Stevenson they were then able to salvage the tapes and separate Miller's vocal tracks from the backing tracks.  That worked served as the basis for selecting nineteen songs and rebuilding the musical tracks for each.  That led to recruiting artists to sing on the tracks.  The end result was an interesting mixture of true stars and journeymen level professionals scattered across eighteen performance.  The final song 'I Do' was a Miller solo performance.  New Miller music is always a good thing and a surprising number of these collaborations were impressive.  I actually put the album on and purposely didn't look at the liner notes.  I was trying to see if I could figure out who the collaborators were.  It wasn't too hard to identify some of the major headliners - Elton John, Rod Stewart and Huey Lewis.  I knew Joe Walsh, but he didn't sing on either of his contributions.  I knew KiKi Dee and John Parr but didn't recognize their performances.   Drummer Stuart Emerson, Steve Dickinson, Japanese singer Hotei Tomoyaso and Australian Brian Cadd were all unknowns to me. The interesting thing was that some of the most promising pairings were disappointments (Willie Nelson on 'I Wanna' Spend My Life with You' and Bonnie Tyler's 'True Love'), while some of the collaborations that looked questionable on paper, turned out to be really good.  Among the most enjoyable were the stunning Kiki Dee ballad 'Sending Me Angels', the Francis Rossi rocker 'Gold Shoes" and the Delbert McClinton collaboration 'Beginner At the Blues'.  By my count ten of the twenty performances were first rate.  Six were middling and four were dismal.  The collaboration angle was clearly intended to generate attention and sales to benefit  Miller and the rehabilitation charity he established. That said,  I've always wondered if the same goal could have been achieved by showcasing more of these performances as Miller solo efforts as was done with the closer 'I Do'.  Regardless, It's an album all Miller fans should have in their collections.

 

There's also a CD and DVD edition which includes a career spanning documentary - Frankie Miller: Sending Me Angels.

 

 

"Frankie Miller's Double Take" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Blackmail  (Frankie Miller) - 3:04  rating: **** stars

If the blazing 'Blackmail' was an example of the caliber of material that Miller shelved, you can only wonder what else was set aside?  Curiously, while Joe Walsh is "featured" on the track, I just don't hear much of him.  I guess the screaming guitar was Walsh, but if his vocals were in the mix, they're hidden.  

2.) Where Do the Guilty Go  (Frankie Miller) - 3:33   rating: **** stars

Perhaps the collection's biggest surprise, I expected this Elton John-Miller collaboration to be a train wreck.  I just had a difficult time picturing these two artists having much in common.  Top-40 John and blues-rock Miller ...  Yeah, there was a bit of over-singing on John's part, but by and large he proved a nice match for Miller's gravely road.  The only thing I would have suggested was dropping the faux-Gospel background singers.  They just distracted from the performance.

3.) Way Past Midnight  (Frankie Miller) - 3:42   rating: *** stars

Featuring Huey Lewis, 'Way Past Midnight' was another collaboration that I wondered about ...  Very different artists; very different musical niches.  And once again my initial doubts were way off the mark.  Lewis may be best known for his top-40 pop fodder, but the man has a voice that when roughed up, was a nice match for Miller.  

4,) True Love  (Frankie Miller) - 4:11  rating: ** stars

Given her unique voice, I thought Bonnie Tyler was going to be a great match for Miller.  This one was a disappointment to my ears.  The song has a pedestrian melody and Tyler's rugged voice came off as ragged.  It was as if she was simply trying  too hard.  

5.) Kiss Her for Me  (Frankie Miller) - 3:53   rating: **** stars

I'm not a big Rod Stewart fan, but I'll make an exception for this stunning ballad.  The decision to have Stewart and Miller trade versus was great.  Yeah, Joe Walsh was also featured, but his contributions were  invisible to my ears.

 

(side 2)

1.) Gold Shoes  (Frankie Miller) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

Perhaps the album's most commercial offering, 'Gold Shoes' featured a catchy, blusey rocker with a near perfect blend of vocals from Miller and Status Quo front man Francis Rossi.

2.) Sending Me Angels  (Frankie Miller) - 4:37   rating: ***** stars

Occasionally I'll hear a song that gives me goose bumps.  Here's one of them.  Jaw dropping ballad and the mix of KiKi Dee and Miller was near perfection.  The other revelation was flamenco guitarist Jose Antonio Rodriguez ...  OMG !!!  Talk about a beautiful song. 

3.) Jezebel Jones  (Frankie Miller) - 3:36  rating: ** stars

Seriously, Kid Rock?  I'm at a loss to understand this selection.  This was one where I didn't detect any commonality - Rock's faux-country delivery seemed to totally at odds with Miller's voice.  And talk about trying to power your way through a song. I would have rather this were a Miller solo effort.

4.) When It's Rockin'  (Frankie Miller) - 3:03   rating: ***** stars

Unlike the Kid Rock collaboration, 'When It's Rockin'' took a country-rock song and made it a wonderful vehicle for Miller.  The Dickinson-Miller vocals melded well together and unlike Rock who seemed to be trying to blow Miller out of the song, there was a real sense of collaboration on this one.

5.) Beginner At the Blues  (Frankie Miller) - 4:35   rating: ***** stars

Geez, judging by the bluesy 'Beginner At the Blues', Delbert McClinton and Miller sounded like they were simply meant for one another.  Blues for people who don't like the blues ...

 

(side 3)

1.) To Be with You Again  (Frankie Miller) - 3:57   rating: *** stars

Pairing Kim Carnes with Miller was another good choice for this breezy ballad. Miller was given the lead with Carnes handling one chorus and carrying the harmonies.  I think this was more in line with what I was expecting from the Bonnie Tyler collaboration.  

2.) I Wanna' Spend My Life with You  (Frankie Miller) - 3:58  rating: ** stars

A partnership that looked promising on paper ... Willie Nelson had such a unique voice, it's hard to imagine him being a good partner for anyone.  'I Wanna' Spend My Life with You' simply sounded like two different takes of the song haphazardly stapled together.  And Nelson sounded a little shaky in his performance.

3.) The Ghost  (Frankie Miller) - 4:19   rating: **** stars

I quite enjoyed the ballad 'The Ghost'.  Hotei Tomoyaso had a nice voice, but on this one Miller was front and center.   'The Ghost' was one of the album's prettiest performances.

4.) It Gets Me Blue  (Frankie Miller) - 3:13   rating: *** stars

A rollicking blues number, 'It Gets Me Blue' featured Paul Carrack, except he was largely buried in the mix.  This one was released as a single

5.) Out On the Water  (Frankie Miller) - 3:10   rating: *** stars

Technically I guess it was a collaboration, but Stuart Emerson's contributions seemed to be the big drum effects and maybe some of the Enya-styled harmonies.   Pretty Celtic tinged ballad in a background music kind of fashion.

 

(side 4)

1.) It's a Long Way Home  (Frankie Miller) - 3:38  rating: ** stars

Australian Brian Cadd was an unknown quantity to me.  Given his shaky vocals, thebig ballad 'It's a Long Way Home' was another tune that would have been better imagined as a true Miller solo effort.

2.) I'm Missing You  (Frankie Miller) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

I recognized John Parr's name as being the guy who sang 'St. Elmo's Fire'.  Other than that song he's an unknown to me.   On the '80s AOR flavored 'I'm Missing You'  Parr was was largely overshadowed by Miller. This was probably the collection's most commercial and radio-ready track.  

3.) I Never Want To Lose You  (Frankie Miller) - 3:28   rating: *** stars

I recognized Lenny Zakatek's name from his work with The Alan Parsons Project.   Now there's a group I have not heard in years.  The interesting thing is Zakatek voice didn't seem to have changed obver the ensuing years.  He sounded very much like he did when singing hits like 'I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You'.  Another pretty ballad with commercial potential.  

5.) I Do  (Frankie Miller) - 3:38   rating: *** stars

Miller at his starkest and most vulnerable ...  Beautiful and makes you wonder why they didn't frame more track as Miller solo efforts.

 

 

k lis

Double Take introduced me to Frankie Miller. David Mackay and all the other musicians and technicians have done a truly wonderful job of getting Frankie Miller's song writing and vocals back out there. I return to this CD frequently and it has inspired me to collect all the previous albums. Consequently, to me, this feels like new music and I am completely hooked by the immediacy of the lyrics and the sound of Frankie's voice. There are just so many tracks on this and all the other albums that make you want sing - but it is better to keep quiet and just listen in awe. There is a suggestion of more to come - I really hope so and I wish Frankie Miller all the best too for continued improvement in his health.

 

Writing anything about an album is always difficult in as muck as it is purely subjective ie one mans meat is another mans poison . but if you are a Frankie Miller fan then I'd go and buy it . I found a song of his that he'd made with Francis Rossi on YouTube one Friday night , and I was pleasantly surprised . I'd never heard this track before and it definitely had a 70's kind of vibe . I did a bit of digging around and it transpires that this album is made from old demos he never released . He'd had some health issues that caused him to lose his voice in the 90's and his mates all got together to collaborate on this album . With some recording wizardry it sounds like they recorded it at the same time . Any way , there are some classic tracks on it imo , and if you're a FM fan , I don't think you'll be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

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