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Various Artists

King of The Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller – 2018 (BMG)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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This expansive tribute to Roger Miller features a multitude of fine performances, including plenty of country stars singing Miller songs. As good as these performances are, though, the true stars are Miller's songs. With a whopping 37 tracks, the listener is overwhelmed by Miller's obvious skills.

Miller was so smart and witty. He's best known for his strangely funny song about homelessness, "King of The Road," but he also wrote some of country music's most heartbreaking love songs. One of these, "The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me," is covered by Dolly Parton. The song itself is even better than its title, and the title is one of the best, ever. However, some of these recordings are complete reevaluations. Ray Price's honky-tonking "Invitation to the Blues" is slowed down to a depressing funereal crawl when sung here by Shooter Jennings and Jessi Colter.

With "When Two Worlds Collide," though, it's Flatt Lonesome's amazing vocal harmonies that make this performance stand out. Something magical happens whenever Miller's smart lyrics are matched to amazing singing. That happened with Ray Price and happens again with Flatt Lonesome's stellar performance.

It's fun to see how Miller's songs reached beyond just the country realm. Cake sings "Reincarnation," while Toad the Wet Sprocket performs "Nothing Can Stop Me." Roger's son, who sounds eerily like his dad, performs an enthusiastic version of "You Can't Do Me This Way" with the McCrary Sisters. Ringo Starr even does what he does best, which is a droll comedic vocal on the funny-but-true "Hey, Would You Hold It Down?"

Roger Miller was a true character; one as smart as he was funny. This album does a great job of making a case for loving Miller's music. Hey, maybe this compilation will prompt a few contemporary artists to reach back into Miller's catalogue and his songs. We need Roger Miller music now more than ever.