Frankie Miller is one of those undiscovered gems: an artist who many won’t know by name, though they will know his music when they hear it. Having been covered by everyone from Rod Stewart to Ray Charles, The Traveling Wilburys to Etta James, Johnny Cash to Roy Orbison, his songs have become part of the musical landscape, even as most listeners would struggle to name the talent behind them.
When Miller suffered a brain haemorrhage, in 1994, it seemed that he was forever doomed to remain in the shadows: an unsung hero beloved by other musicians, though hardly the household name he deserved to be. Yet, in his 28-year career, Miller impressed many of the biggest names in music – after all, the Glasgow-born songwriter boasted a versatile talent; he was as comfortable singing lead vocals for Procol Harum as he was duetting with rock icon Phil Lynott on Thin Lizzy’s ‘Still In Love With You’, or working in New Orleans with soul legend Allen Toussaint.
Fittingly, many of his peers have gathered together to record Frankie Miller’s Double Take, a 19-track album largely composed of duets with the man, and which is due for release on 30 September.
These songs might never have seen the light of day had Rod Stewart not asked producer David Mackay if he knew of any unreleased Miller gems. After contacting Frankie’s partner, Annette Miller, Mackay received two garbage sacks full of demos. “The tracks were simple,” he says of the recordings, “but the vocals were stunning.” Mackay promptly set about “creating proper backing tracks with top musicians from around the world”.
With input from artists as varied as Elton John, Willie Nelson, rock icons Joe Walsh and Kid Rock, and Southern soul guitarist Steve Cropper, the demos have been worked up into finished songs that retain the integrity of Miller’s original recordings. “The response was overwhelming,” Mackay says, noting that “Elton John thought ‘Where Do The Guilty Go’ was a classic”. Fittingly, the collection is rounded off by ‘I Do’, a solo Miller track.
Available on both CD and 2LP, a CD+DVD edition also includes the documentary Frankie Miller: Sending Me Angels. Tracing Miller’s remarkable career, from Glasgow-born vocalist to adored talent respected by music icons the world over, it gives his biggest, most famous fans the chance to explain why Miller remains so important to them.
‘Blackmail’ (with Joe Walsh)
‘Where Do The Guilty Go’ (with Elton John and Steve Cropper)
‘Way Past Midnight’ (with Huey Lewis)
‘True Love’ (with Bonnie Tyler)
‘Kiss Her For Me’ (with Rod Stewart and Joe Walsh)
‘Gold Shoes’ (with Francis Rossi)
‘Sending Me Angels’ (with Kiki Dee and Jose Antonio Rodriguez)
‘Jezebel Jones’ (with Kid Rock and Full House)
‘When It’s Rockin’’ (with Steve Dickinson and Full House)
‘Beginner At The Blues’ (with Delbert McClinton and Full House)
‘To Be With You Again’ (with Kim Carnes)
‘I Want To Spend My Life With You’ (with Willie Nelson)
‘The Ghost’ (with Tomoyasu Hotei)
‘It Gets Me Blue’ (with Paul Carrack)
‘Out On The Water’ (with Stuart Emerson)
‘It’s A Long Way Home’ (with Brian Cadd)
‘I’m Missing You’ (with John Parr)
‘I Never Want To Lose You’ (with Lenny Zakatek)
‘I Do’ (Frankie Miller solo)