Cargo Records (label)
08 September 2014 (released)
02 September 2014
Spike fulfilled a long-standing ambition with his musical homage to Scottish blues-rock legend and long-time friend Frankie Miller, who tragically had his versatile career cut short in 1994 following a brain haemorrhage. Although The Quireboys frontman calls his labour of love 100% Pure Frankie Miller, it is of course also 100% pure Spike. And with a little help from his friends (make that an assemblage of some serious rock ‘n’ roll talent) this outstanding solo album should do Frankie more than proud!
100% Frankie Miller features fellow Quireboys Guy Griffin, Keith Weir, and Paul Guerin, Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, Andy Fraser (Free) and Simon Kirke (Free/Bad Company), Bonnie Tyler, Luke Morley, Tyla, Chris Corney, Mark Stanway, Mick Roobotham, Matt Goom, Mama’s Boys Pat Mcmanus, ‘Mrs. Loud’ Lorraine Crosby, Stuart Emerson, Welsh country-blueser Cherry Lee Mewis, Simon Hanson (Squeeze), and Jimi The Piper.
Frankie Miller enjoyed chart success in the late 70s with ‘Be Good To Yourself’, ‘Darlin’ and ‘When I’m Away From You’. He counts fellow countryman Rod Stewart amongst his biggest fans and was – and still is – a huge influence on so many musicians.
“Frankie doesn’t want sympathy,” says Spike. “He just wants his music to be heard. These songs have never been released before and they’ve been recorded with Frankie’s blessing. They are songs that would have been lost if it wasn’t for the desire of a group of his closest friends and biggest fans to do them justice.”
The album (boasting a spiffing sleeve artwork by fellow rocker Tyla) features twelve hidden Frankie gems, lovingly compiled by Spike.
Opener ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ is one of those slow-burning rock ballads so well suited to Spike’s distinctive vocals, simmering vocals vamp up the chorus line, bluesy riff-work keeps the heat going. ‘Cocaine’ makes for a sizzling barroom ditty, spiked with an element of danger (well, it does feature Ronnie Wood), while ‘I’m Losing You’ (once again featuring Wood) is delivered with harmony-laden feelings and emotion – a rock ballad in the classical vein if you so will.
Some (bitter) irony is not lost when Spike sings “You know I sold my soul to be in intensive care” on next track ‘Intensive Care’, a punchy little kicker with some fiery solo work on guitars and keys.
Another fine ballad is ‘Fortune’, which is in fact a duet with Bonnie Tyler. Yep, Spike and Bonnie’s gravely voices complement each other perfectly here, and the song bears all the hallmarks of a potential commercial hit. The Yin and Yang of the soft rock world, for sure!
Next is ‘Amsterdam Woman’, an uplifting crowd pleaser and a perfect sing-along number. Once again, it’s a song ripe with perfect harmonies and although 100% Frankie Miller, it could just as well be a Quireboys number.
A lovely slice of blues-infused soul is ‘Other Side Of Town’, with our leading man crooning for all it’s worth!
As for ‘Cheap Hotel’: wowser! Starting with real ‘roll over Beethoven’ attitude, the number is a fiery example of stomping good-time rock ‘n’ roll, bursting with the-devil-may-care keyboard antics and pretty much everything else that makes your dance leg shake. Evoking the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Rich and Chuck Berry, you barely have time to breathe listening to this blazer!
No chance whatsoever to freeze your balls off when ‘Cold, Cold Nights’ is such a heart-warming affair, dripping with pure honey from the golden valley of country-rock. And the chorus ain’t bad either, in fact, it’s downright great!
On to ‘Did You Ever Wanna Go Home’, one of my faves on the album, and featuring the talent of famous Jim the Piper (aka Jim McRae). The skirl of his Scottish bagpipe makes for a nice touch towards the end of the song and is inspired. If it’s hip for the Scots, then it’s hip enough for Spike’s tribute album to his Glaswegian friend Frankie.
‘Keepin It All For You’ is as multi-faceted as love itself. Quite a saccharin-drenched composition this, but one that ticks all the right boxes!
Closing track is the tongue-in-cheek ‘Bottle Of Whisky’, and a number yours truly can relate to especially since having moved north of the border. “I had a fight with a bottle of whisky last night, and the bottle of the whisky won…” Here then it’s ‘cheers’ to my YES vote for the impending Scottish referendum, for the mighty Scotch whisky, and above all, for this exquisite album! Slàinte mhath!