King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller
For the younger generations of country musicians, Roger Miller is a character that cannot be ignored. Influenced by the sound of Nashville and flavoured with rhythms of honky-tonk, swing and bayou-scented pop, this tribute record by various artists acts as proof.
With an authentic talent, Miller was able to assert himself in the sixties (notably dominated by the yé-yé wave) with his poetic country music and hit singles that were well received by the Opry community. Working as a part-time musician in Amarillo, his career as a performer didn’t really take off, forcing him to devote himself to composition. It was a scenario that eventually played to his advantage as his songs were performed by some of the greatest country stars such as George Jones, Ernest Tubb or Faron Young...
Decades later, the pattern seems to repeat itself. King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller is a double album with 37 tracks, the first of which is a short recording of Roger Miller's voice making fun of being the greatest songwriter in history. Irony or not? One of his greatest hits, Chug-a-Lug, originally released in 1964, is played here by Ray Benson. Faithful to the original, the essence of this alcohol and drugs-soaked country music remains intact, telling tales of the sorrows of love and loneliness but also with a certain adoration for the Texas roots.
A dazzling line-up follows: Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves (Kansas City Star), Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson (Old Friends), Lyle Lovett, Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam, Cake and Ringo Starr, among many others. Beyond just a classic tribute, the album is a real memory box. Miller was unique right from birth. He was interested in production, and collaborated with Kris Kristofferson to release his Me & Bobby McGee and Loving Her Was Easier.
Though he was also intrigued by other artistic areas, including cinema. It comes as no surprise that King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller highlights the song Oo De Lally, originally composed for the soundtrack of the cartoon Robin Hood. The song is played here by Eric Church with slightly more electronic sounds, whilst retaining the original charm of this classic.
Although Miller remains the focal point, it doesn't stop Alison Krauss and The Cox Family from killing two birds with one stone. You Oughta Be Here With Me/I've Been A Long Time Leaving is a nod towards Waylon Jennings, who covered Miller in his album Dreaming My Dreams. Representative of an extensive and eclectic career, these 37 songs take us on a captivating journey through the great history of country music.
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