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Music Review: Jody Miller – Jody Miller: Complete Epic Hits

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Jody Miller is a somewhat forgotten singer these days but during the 1960s she recorded several pop hits, and in the 1970s placed 25 singles on the Billboard Country Charts.

Born in Phoenix but raised in Oklahoma, Miller signed a contract with the Capital label in her early 20’s and quickly produced the biggest pop hit of her career with “Queen Of The House” — a clever re-working of Roger Miller’s “King Of The Road.” It also became a country hit and earned her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Dropped by Capital at the end of the decade, her career took a dramatic turn when she formed a musical relationship with legendary country producer Billy Sherrill. He figured out how to harness Miller’s booming voice and match it to the right material. It added up to one of the more catchy and better catalogues of ’70s country music. Real Gone Music has now reissued all 25 of her Epic label chart hits under the title Jody Miller: Complete Epic Hits.

The most memorable tracks are re-workings of early rock ‘n’ roll hits which Miller moved over into a country style with slick production by Sherrill. Songs such as “He’s So Fine” (#5 on the country charts), “Baby I’m Yours” (#5), “Be My Baby” (#15), “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (#69), and “To Know Him Is To Love Him” (#18) were light and breezy interpretations, and were some of the earliest recordings to begin to bridge the gap between pop and country.

Billy Sherrill wrote several songs just for Miller. “There’s A Party Goin’ On” (#4) was similar to her early rock interpretations, while “Good News” (#9) went in a gospel direction. “Kiss Away” (#65) was more of a traditional country song made unique by the addition of strings.

The two most interesting tracks are covers of “House Of The Rising Sun” (#29) and Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” (#46). Miller gave a country twist to these two well-known rock and soul songs.

Jody Miller may not have changed the face of country music or achieved superstar status but she issued a versatile and excellent collection of material during her career, and it remains a smooth listen today. While it would have been nice to have had her pop hits for the Capital label included too, Jody Miller: Complete Epic Hits contains most of the better material of her career. Besides, much of her music has been out of print for years and its nice to have it back in circulation.

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About David Bowling

  • John O’Dowd

    Hi David, I enjoyed your review of the new compilation CD on Jody Miller’s biggest hits for Epic Records. I am already hoping that a follow-up CD is in the works as many of Jody’s most memorable recordings are also the most obscure ones. For instance, in the late 70’s she cut excellent cover versions of HEART’s “Crazy On You”, LOU CHRISTIE’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”, MEL CARTER’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”, PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS’ “I Don’t Want Nobody (To Lead Me On)”(all non-album singles),and there are a plethora of other great tracks on her eight albums for Epic that haven’t been heard in years.

    I also hope that Real Gone Music (the label that is issuing the new Greatest Hits CD)considers doing a similar collection of some of Jody’s rare, mid-to-late 1960s Capitol Records (non-album) singles, including her versions of “To Sir With Love” (ultra-rare, it came out the same time as LULU’s, or a little before, and was then retracted by Capitol), BOBBY DARIN’S “If I Were A Carpenter”, and “Only Mama That’ll Walk the Line” (obviously the female version of WAYLON JENNINGS’ Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line). Also worth considering, I think, for her fans: Jody’s controversial “unwed teenage mother” song from 1968, “My Daddy’s Thousand Dollars”, and her very traditional Italian-sounding (and “Sopranos”-like) “I Remember Mama”. There is a wealth of cool-sounding and undeservedly obscure records in Jody’s catalogue, both for Capitol and Epic, and I, for one, hope they can be heard again by the public.

    Thank you again for your very nice review.

    John O’Dowd