Roger Miller

Waterhole #3

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The soundtrack to the film Waterhole #3 was an unusual collaboration between country star Roger Miller and jazz composers Dave Grusin and Robert Wells. The latter two wrote the lyrics and music for Miller to perform, and the results are presented in an orchestrated pop-western style befitting a late-'60s James Coburn Western comedy. The title song, "The Ballad of Waterhole #3 (Code of the West)," introduces the melodic theme that recurs throughout the album (and movie) and became a modest crossover hit. The songs are interspersed with narration by Miller, and if not for those breaks, the album would seem even more like one continuous song than it does. The device of using a single song or melody as a thread can be effective in film -- see High Noon, for example -- but does not necessarily work on an album. Waterhole #3 is monotonous when taken in its entirety except for the title song and "Rainbow Valley," the closing song and the only one that stands apart from the theme as an independent piece. Both of those songs can be found on a 45 for anyone who wants to pare this music down to the essentials, or "The Ballad of Waterhole #3" can be found on Miller's King of the Road box set and the import anthology Wand'rin' Star.

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