Roger Miller

Words and Music

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Perhaps Roger Miller's weirdest song ever kicks off this album from the batch he recorded for Smash in the mid-'60s. It is "My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died," and it is an attack of pure dementia just two seconds shy of two minutes. But it is the next song, "Husbands and Wives," that really sets the tone for this album, saying so much with so few words while coming up with very clever ways to offset one's expectations of where the same old country phrases and chord changes are going to go. The laziness that would plague later Miller recordings is perhaps visible through the haze here, and it would be hard to argue the necessity of the cover version of "Heartbreak Hotel"; it certainly takes the wind out of the proceedings. He recovers fast, though, building the album to a strong climax purely through emotion and sentimentality, the cornpone humor in reserve but not needed. Liner notes are an endorsement by the great Johnny Mercer.

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