Thursday, 19 May 2011

“Frankie Miller …That’s Who! – The Complete Chrysalis Recordings (1973-1980)” by FRANKIE MILLER. A Review Of The May 2011 4CD Set On Chrysalis/EMI.


This review is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

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"…Be Good To Yourself…Be True To One Another…"

Most Frankie Miller fans have despaired of seeing their hero’s output on a decent CD retrospective – well all of that ends with this superb EMI mini-box set which puts 7 albums (plus 1 remixed version) and 3 single sides onto 4CDs – and all of it with great remastered sound. There’s a lot on here, so let’s get to the details first…

“Frankie Miller …That’s Who! – The Complete Chrysalis Recordings (1973-1980)” was released May 2011 on Chrysalis/EMI 50999909777125 and it breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (69:18 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut album “Once In A Blue Moon” released January 1973 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1036
Tracks 11 to 22 are his 2nd studio album “High Life” released January 1974 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1052

Disc 2 (78:52 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are “High Life – The Original Mix” – this is a previously unreleased version of the album with the running order re-arranged
Tracks 12 to 21 are his 3rd studio album “The Rock” released September 1975 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1088

Disc 3 (78:26 minutes):
Tracks 1 and 2 are “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever” and “I’m Old Enough”, the A & edited B-side of an August 1976 UK 7” single on Chrysalis CHS 2103 [Previously Unavailable on CD]
Tracks 3 to 12 are his 4th studio album “Full House” released August 1977 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1128
Tracks 13 to 22 are his 5th studio album “Double Trouble” released April 1978 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1174

Disc 4 (76:40 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 6th studio album “Falling In Love” released January 1979 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1220 (it was called “A Perfect Fit” in the USA)
Tracks 12 to 21 are his 7th studio album “Easy Money” released July 1980 in the UK and the USA on Chrysalis CHR 1268
Track 22 is “Sail Away” (a Randy Newman cover) and a non-album B-side to the November 1977 UK 4-Track 7” “Alveric’s Elfland Journey EP” [Previously Unavailable on CD]

The 8-page booklet is a fairly functionary affair with a small history of the albums taken from a 1998 Documentary for BBC Scotland. It gives a track-by-track list and pictures some album covers and rare European 7” picture sleeves. A nice touch is that Discs 1 and 2 are coloured with the Green Chrysalis label while 3 and 4 are Blue - reflecting the original vinyl issues. Beneath the two see-through CD trays are pictures of each album with the production credits below the picture. It’s good, but hardly great. But the real deal lies in the AUDIO…

After years of budget label compilations, the remastered sound quality comes as a genuine shock – done by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at EMI – it’s full, warm and at last the music has the muscle its always deserved. The material itself (mostly self-penned) isn’t all genius of course, but when this Glaswegian was good – he was the absolute business. And like many rockers, he had loveliness in his ballads too, which in turn inspired cover versions from people as diverse as Cher, UFO and Ray Charles.

With regard to the remaster the opening plaintive double of “You Don’t Need To Laugh” and “I Can’t Change It” from “Once In A Blue Moon” are good examples – the backing band is BRINSLEY SCHWARZ featuring Ian Gomm and Nick Lowe - and suddenly the piano, the acoustic guitars and even the backing girly vocals are all clear and alive. It’s not loud for the sake of it - just present – a treat to listen to.

His 2nd album “High Life” was originally produced by New Orleans R’n’B genius ALLEN TOUSSAINT (who also wrote many of the tunes), but without his or Miller’s permission it was remixed before release – hence it’s on here twice – the released mix and now the previously unreleased original version. One of my favourites is “A Fool” – the new version brings the guitars, percussion and brass solo to the front more and also lessens the hiss levels that were on the released version. “Trouble” is really clear too – it’s fantastically well done.

1975’s “The Rock” benefited from the production values of Elliot Mazer (Neil Young and Joni Mitchell) with the songs featuring brass on almost every track with that rock backbeat. Two of my personal favourites are the driving boogie of “Hard On The Levee” and the epic Otis Redding type ballad “All My Love To You” (poignant lyrics given his later incapacity and his wife’s devotion to his recovery).

A polished production by Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd) on 1977’s “Full House” made it his most commercial release and for me features one his best tracks - the truly fantastic “Be Good To Yourself”. Written by Free’s Andy Fraser, it epitomises what fans love most about Miller - a top tune fronted by a great voice – an uplifting gem that hasn’t dated a jot (lyrics above). His cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” is soulful and full on, but his speeding up of Ketty Lester’s “Love Letters” is less successful. “This Love Of Mine” is a soulful brass-driven Stax Records kind of ballad co-written with ace guitarist Robin Trower and is another highlight. Proceedings were also graced with Chris Spedding, Gary Brooker, John “Rabbit” Bundrick and the brass of The Memphis Horns.

1978’s “Double Trouble” featured a guest backing vocals from Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler as well as songwriting collaborations with Paul Carrack on 5 songs (Ace, Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, solo career) and a rocking Free-sounding “Double Heart Trouble” not surprisingly written by Andy Fraser. 1979’s Falling In Love (titled “A Perfect Fit” for its American release) features Frankie’s biggest hit single “Darlin’” while 1980’s “Easy Money” saw him running on empty.

Name-checked by Rod Stewart, Phil Lynott, Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, Kid Rock and too many others to mention – Frankie Miller was possessed of a voice and a way with a song that literally engendered hero worship – and this huge remastered haul finally does his criminally forgotten recorded legacy proper justice.

Like Terry Reid, Long John Baldry, John Martyn and Maggie Bell – this great singer will always be held in genuine affection.

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TRACK-BY-TRACK BREAKDOWN

Frankie Miller…That’s Who! The Complete Chrysalis Recordings (1973-1980)

Disc One:

Once In A Blue Moon (1973)

* 1. You Don't Need To Laugh
* 2. I Can't Change It
* 3. Candlelight Sonata in F Major
* 4. Ann Eliza Jane
* 5. It's All Over
* 6. In No Resistance
* 7. After All (Live My Life)
* 8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
* 9. Mail Box
* 10. I'm Ready

High Life (1974)

* 11. High Life
* 12. Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)
* 13. Trouble
* 14. A Fool
* 15. Little Angel
* 16. With You In Mind
* 17. The Devil Gun
* 18. I'll Take a Melody
* 19. Just A Song
* 20. Shoo-Rah
* 21. I'm Falling In Love Again
* 22. With You in Mind

Disc Two:

High Life (Original Mix – Previously Unreleased)

* 1. Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)
* 2. Trouble
* 3. Little Angel
* 4. With You In Mind
* 5. I'll Take A Melody
* 6. High Life (Filler)
* 7. Shoorah Shoorah
* 8. Devil's Gun
* 9. A Day In The Life Of A Fool
* 10. I'm Falling In Love Again
* 11. Just A Song

The Rock (1975)

* 12. A Fool in Love
* 13. The Heartbreak
* 14. The Rock
* 15. I Know Why the Sun Don't Shine
* 16. Hard on the Levee
* 17. Ain't Got No Money
* 18. All My Love To You
* 19. I'm Old Enough
* 20. Bridgeton
* 21. Drunken Nights in the City

Disc Three:

* 1. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
(single A side 1976 – previously unavailable on CD)
* 2. I'm Old Enough
(single edit B side 1976 – previously unavailable on CD)

Full House (1977)

* 3. Be Good To Yourself
* 4. The Doodle Song
* 5. Jealous Guy
* 6. Searching
* 7. Love Letters
* 8. Take Good Care of Yourself
* 9. Down the Honky Tonk
* 10. This Love of Mine
* 11. Let the Candlelight Shine
* 12. (I'll Never) Live in Vain

Double Trouble (1978)

* 13. Have You Seen Me Lately Joan
* 14. Double Heart Trouble
* 15. The Train
* 16. You'll Be In My Mind
* 17. Good Time Love
* 18. Love Waves
* 19. (I Can't) Break Away
* 20. Stubborn Kind Of Fellow
* 21. Love Is All Around
* 22. Goodnight Sweetheart

Disc Four:

Falling In Love (1979)

* 1. When I'm Away From You
* 2. Is This Love
* 3. If I Can Love Somebody
* 4. Darlin'
* 5. And It's Your Love
* 6. A Woman To Love
* 7. Falling In Love With You
* 8. Every Time A Teardrop Falls
* 9. Papa Don't Know
* 10. Good To See You
* 11. Something About You

Easy Money (1980)

* 12. Easy Money
* 13. The Woman In You
* 14. Why Don't You Spend The Night
* 15. So Young, So Young
* 16. Forget About Me
* 17. Heartbreak Radio
* 18. Cheap... Thrills
* 19. No Chance
* 20. Gimme Love
* 21. Tears
* 22. Sail Away (1977 EP B-side – previously unavailable on CD)

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