I've spoken about Frankie Miller before. Check out that comment for biographical detail and what not.
A little of this goes a long way with me.
Especially the 70s variety where Miller made his name.
Well, the later varieties are even worse..
This was 1980.
Synths and the desire to sound contemporary invaded the music of many a white bluesman. And not in a good way. Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Bob Seger, Long John Baldry, Jeff Beck all put out shit as a result.
Frankie was not immune.
The desire to sell records is a strong desire. It's not just ego, though that must be a component. Lifestyle, career, mortgages, a family are all dependent on you selling records. The more records that sell the more likely the label will cough up money for your next album, the more they will promote you, and the more people you will get at gigs.
So if synths and slick sounds are in it's easy to be seduced, especially if everyone around you is doing the same. It becomes acceptable. You don't think about looking back, from 20 years in the future, to see what you put out.
And even when you have the sense to think about your legacy the label may have forced the sound on you, either overly ("this is what we are doing on this album") or subtlety ("we are going to drop you if you font have a hit, it's up to you").
Of course who is to say that the sound you are embarking on won't become the standard that the future wants to emulate? Who is to know what is right or wrong in music and sound at the time you are doing it?
To add synths and smooth sounds to blues rock may have seemed quite reasonable.
But, to me, blues rock, was always raw and ragged even when it made concessions to pop. The slickness and the smooth lines just don't sound right. All you have left is the rhythm but none of the emotion, no matter how hoarse and loud the vocalist is.
Luckily this early on in the 80s so the rot hasn't totally set in
Miller had put out some convincing blues rock in the 70s but the pressure was on to have a hit. He had scored a runaway Top Ten hit (#6, 1978 ) in the UK with "Darlin'" a single included on the album preceding this, "Falling in Love (aka Perfect Fit)" (1979). That was quite slick, so I assume it was more of the same and lets take advantage of the technology and instruments emerging.
The joy is, Miller's vocals. He is such a persuasive bluesy rock vocalist (with a good ear for pop and soul not to mention a good ear for new music) that he can lift a good song to greater heights. At the time of release 1980 this is as good, if not better than Rod Stewart, though Rod was having all the hits.
In my other comment I mentioned the fact that Bob Seger has said Frankie was a big influence on him. I think, and this isn't out there as Rod has said so himself, he is quite a influence on Rod Stewart. Though, the influence isn't one of musician and pupil because they were both around at the same time. A Glaswegian, Miller's first group was The Stoics in the late sixties before joining the short-lived Jude which Robin Trower had formed shortly after leaving Procol Harum. Upon their demise Miller recorded his first solo album, "Once In A Blue Moo" (1973). Rod started in 1963, played in a variety of bands before releasing his first album in late 1969. I think the influence is a result of their love of the blues and the fact that their voices are similar and they are both Scottish (well Rod identifies as a Scot and is of Scottish descent on his fathers side).
Rod generally has (had in the 70s) better material and can swagger.
Frankie has got the balls but, to the record buying public, he is a less sexy Rod Stewart.
Check out the sleeve to this album and then compare it to any Rod Stewart album of the time if you need further proof.
And sex helps pay the bills.
Produced by Hitmen and Frankie Miller. The Hitmen are Troy Seals and his (Miller's) backing band (and some of Nashville's finest session musicians at the time), Reggie Young, Bobby Thompson, Larry Londin, Joe Osborne). The album was recorded at Sound Stage Studios, Nashville.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Easy Money – (Miller, Setser, Seals) – very slick and quite empty. Strange as this is the title song.
- The Woman In You – (Miller, Seals) – this is quite good and shows a very Rod Stewart feel and has some great full horns.
- Why Don't You Spend The Night – (McDill) – Country singer Ronnie Milsap had a country #1 (US) in 1980 with the song. You can hear McDills country flavourings. Miller gives it a blues kick but otherwise still respects the country elements. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Don't_You_Spend_the_Night
- So Young, So Young – (Camilleri, Faehse, Burstin) – Originally written by Joe Camilleri and others and released in 1978 on the Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons album "So Young". The song was a #48 hit in Australia. I'm not sure how Frankie Miller came across it as Jo Jo Zep were a popular blues and rock band in Australia only. (though they toured the US in1980). Elvis Costello & The Attractions did a version in 1987.
- Forget About Me – (Miller, Setser, Seals) – The Bellamy Brothers hit the country charts (#5) with this song in 1984. A great mid tempo rootsy pop song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget_About_Me
- Heartbreak Radio – (Miller, Seals) – a nice (small) rip of "Pretty Woman" at the start turns into a honk blues rock.
- Cheap…Thrills – (McDill) – David Allan Coe had a #45 country hit with this in 1983. Confederate Railroad covered the song in 2007. So-so and very barroom country rock circa 1980s.
- No Chance – (Martin) – quite a nice rootsy mid tempo song. Originally by the author, rockabilly and pop singer, Moon Martin, released in 1979 (#50US).
- Gimme Love – (Miller, Setser, Seals) – funky breaks about five years too late.
- Tears – (Miller) – a power ballad. Bonnie Tyler covered this as a duet with Frankie on her "Faster Than the Speed of Night" album from 1983.
I thought this was going to be a lot worse this is, actually, quite good. Dated by 1980 but quite good … I would normally tape a couple of tunes and sell it, and I still might, but I may just keep it and file it alongside Rod Stewart,
Nothing no where
Forget About Me
Live – duet with Bonnie Tyler