Review Summary: Roger Miller was an acclaimed and successful country musician. His Greatest Hits summarizes what was best about his career from the 60's.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Distinguished from all country music during the decade now recognized as its heyday there was Roger Miller, who perfected his own quirky variation of the genre. He had his share of hits, but that was not what made him unique: he dared to defy the rigidity of country music and produced music just country enough to please his base but also incorporated enough innovation to allow him to capture the general public's eye. But Roger was not so much a musical innovator so much as a lyrical one. His melodies were undeniably catchy and memorable but the words belonging to the songs were always the fuel for his commercial and critical success.
Miller was just as much a master of writing pop songs as he was for crafting novelty hits. You have probably heard King of the Road, his most successful single released in 1965 about a road musician who lives a hand to mouth existence but feels he is free and unbound by the rush of average life.
Roger was a member of a small group of musicians who throughout their careers have been able to effectively integrate humour into their music (others being Frank Zappa, They Might be Giants, Devo, the like). Songs like You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd and Do Wacka Do perfectly exemplify this with its whimsical lyrics. "You can't drive around with a tiger in your car" and "You can't change film with a kid on your back".
His music was sometimes melancholy and often had a macabre streak to it. Dang Me, his second hit and most despondent with its topics of his own hanging and One Dying & a Burying speaks of death and mortality. In the Summertime starts out pleasantly but concludes the story as a roundabout way of saying that he had a lover deny him and even darker is Engine Engine #9 which seems to be about him following a woman that consequently avoids him to the point of leaving town because of his pursuit.
On the other hand, Miller's music could be upbeat and happy shown in some songs such as Chug a Lug, Kansas City Star and England Swings.
This album offers a wide range of all that Roger had to offer during his most successful and prolific years including all of his major hits from the sixties and other stray novelty tracks. I highly recommend this album to anyone. I don't really like country but I still love this man's music and I think it is worth a listen to anyone curious enough.