From page 80 of Classic Rock Magazine June 2011
...That’s Who: The Complete Chrysalis Recordings (1973-1980) EMI
Four-CD set collecting all seven albums from Glasgow’s Greatest Singer’s classic period.
M iller’s valiant fight back from a massive brain haemorrhage in 1994 has confirmed his survivor status. This collection shows why the man whose songs have been covered by Cher, Roy Orbison and Thin Lizzy is held in such high regard by a cognoscenti fanbase.
After making his mark in a series of Glasgow 60s soul groups, Miller’s recording career got off to a false start in London when he was signed fronting the subsequently unrecorded, shortlived Stoics in 1970.
Under the aegis of future Stiff Records boss Dave Robinson, and accompanied by pub rock mainstays Brinsley Schwarz, he finally made his debut with 1973’s Once In A Blue Moon . On it, he brought sharp songwriting flair to gutsy and emotive vocal might on a par with Brit R&B mainstay Joe Cocker and Free’s Paul Rodgers. The results were impressive enough to catch the ear of both Ray Charles, who recorded the album’s I Can’t Stand It (a song Miller had written aged 12) and New Orleans production legend Allen Toussaint.
High Life (included here in its released version and, for the first time, the superior original mix) fell foul of fashion but the commercial flop would
prove a career standout, Toussaint’s swaggering horn charts and Big Easy funk undertow perfectly tempering Clydeside grit with Crescent City cool.
Presenting the Henry McCulloughfronted Frankie Miller Band, The Rock ’s radio-friendly production enhanced his transatlantic reputation. The songs often juggle sadness with alcohol-laced high/lows ( Drunken Nights In The City ) and an early indication of a finger near the trigger shows on The Devil’s Gun .
While a naturally tempestuous bent may have caused instability, Miller still proved a magnet for redoubtable collaborators, with Free’s Andy Frazer affording him his first chart hit with the pointed Be Good To Yourself from 1977’s triumphant Full House . Buoyed further by Top Ten pop single Darlin’ , Miller’s ever-widening stylistic remit showed his interpretive sensitivity with Bob Marley and John Hiatt covers on the, by his high standards, lacklustre Falling In Love (1979). But the svelte country of Easy Money (1980) would provide a fertile base for his future.
His recovery has shown that there’s still life in Miller’s ravaged legend – this legacy is certainly one to live up to.
nnnnnnnnnn Gavin Martin