The V-Roys

Sooner or Later: A Compilation

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This summary of the studio side of Knoxville, Tennessee's V-Roys, released on frontman Scott Miller's label, is a little late since it appears 11 years after the band's farewell album. That disc was a live set, none of whose tracks are represented in this 18-cut, 55-minute collection of the group's recorded highlights with a handful of rarities. Assuming that the two original albums this recap's songs are culled from are now out of print, it's a solid selection that features nine tunes from the V-Roys' 1996 debut and another four from their 1998 follow-up, both produced and championed by the Twangtrust collective of Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy. If you're a roots/country rock fan and don't own those, this is a perfectly acceptable substitute with clean remastering and some nifty, previously unreleased covers of Buffalo Springfield's "Burned" and Tom T. Hall's "How I Got to Memphis," the latter of which seems to be inspired by Buddy Miller's exemplary take on the song from his 1995 debut. The V-Roys (with a name abbreviated from Viceroys due to a reggae band that already owned it) don't do anything most other twangy Americana bands such as the Jayhawks do, but they had some excellent songs and a Byrds/British Invasion jangle setting their music apart. They never had the major-label support to push their music into the mainstream, but it wasn't for lack of good material or committed playing, both of which are in full evidence here. Liner notes from Wayne Bledsoe, music writer for The Knoxville News Sentinel, nicely recounts the group's short history. However, the lack of a robust discography with detailed song credits, specifically one that delineates which tracks are chosen from which album, is a puzzling omission and the absence of anything from the swan song live set, despite having plenty of time free on the CD, is unexplained. Still, what's here is very impressive, and for anyone who missed them the first time around during their short four-year run, this is a near perfect example of a band that deserved better commercial recognition than it received.

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