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Roger Miller

King of the Road: The Genius of Roger Miller – 1995 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Roger Miller

Lots of folks roll their eyes when they see that Roger Miller has a three-CD box set. These are people who remember Miller, if at all, for his pop-crossover novelty hits of the '60's and his wacky TV persona. Maybe they've heard of his relatively recent (mid-'80's) Tony winning Broadway show "Big River."But hardly anyone seems to know just how many great honky-tonk songs Miller wrote. Like "Half A Mind" for Ernest Tubb, "Invitation To The Blues" for Ray Price, "That's The Way I Feel" for Faron Young, and "Tall, Tall Trees" for George Jones and, yes, Alan Jackson. The wit that would serve him so well on his own hits was also in evidence on his straight country material.

It's a relatively obscure Miler song, a minor hit for Charlie Louvin, that contains what may be his greatest line: "More and more I think about you less and less." In a sentimental moment, he wrote what has become a Christmas standard, "Old Toy Trains." Miller never lost the gift, co-writing Dwight Yoakam's "It Only Hurts When I Cry" shortly before his death. This nicely packaged set covers all sides of Miller's musical persona, and also includes fine notes by Daniel Cooper. It will be a revelation for many people.