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.