Roger Miller

All Time Greatest Hits

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There have been many collections of Roger Miller's hitmaking peak on Mercury over the years, but few have been as comprehensive or as good as Mercury/Chronicle's 2003 CD, All Time Greatest Hits. Spanning 20 tracks over the course of one CD, this contains all the big songs: "Dang Me," "Chug-a-Lug," "Do Wacka Do," "In the Summertime (You Don't Want My Love)," "King of the Road," "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd," "Kansas City Star," "England Swings," and "Husbands and Wives," among others. All but one track from the seminal 1965 collection Golden Hits is here ("Atta Boy Girl" is the missing culprit -- a good song but not enough to tip the scales in favor of the 38-year-old collection), and it spans further than that record, collecting hits from 1967-1970 and ending with the 1986 hit "River in the Rain." While that final song isn't quite of the standard of what preceded it, it provides a nice closer to a set of songs that unequivocally proves Miller's genius. That might seem like a weighty word for a singer/songwriter whose specialty was lightweight funny songs, but the thing is, those songs have a certain mad ingenious sensibility that nobody else could replicate, and he could dig deeper -- witness "I've Been a Long Time Leavin' (But I'll Be a Long Time Gone)" -- when he wanted to. That side might not be mined as deeply as it could have been here, but that's what previous comps like the King of the Road box is for. This is a hits collection, a summary overview and introduction to his genius, and it succeeds brilliantly on that level. Absolutely essential.

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