Jody Miller

The Story Of...

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Most likely an illegitimate release, this 29-song compilation mostly concentrates on Jody Miller's 1960s recordings for Capitol, though it does have her early-'70s Epic country hit cover of Barbara Lewis' "Baby I'm Yours." In that respect it's considerably different from the authorized 2000 Anthology collection, which has a lot of post-'60s Epic material and duplicates only four songs from The Story Of.... Miller is most often categorized as a country singer, but in the 1960s she was actually pretty eclectic, roving among and combining country, folk, pop, and girl group-like pop\rock. That means there isn't much stylistic consistency here, though there are some good songs. Those include her two big hits, the "King of the Road" "answer" record "Queen of the House" and the 1965 Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil girl group-style protest song against the expulsion of a boy from school for long hair, "Home of the Brave." What makes this most interesting to the small group of listeners curious enough to spring for a Jody Miller collection in the first place, however, are the many obscure oddities. There's the cover of the Crystals' "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)," one of the most unfeminist-friendly rock songs of all time; a very pop arrangement of Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do"; a late-'60s Nashville country-pop version of Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going," complete with brief spoken recitation; "Sea of Heartbreak," which puts Bo Diddley, blues harmonica, and country-folk-pop into the same blender; and "The Fever," which recalls Jackie DeShannon's rowdiest early- to mid-'60s sides, though DeShannon would have done the song with more vocal power. As is the case with all CDs on the Marginal label, the packaging is maddeningly inadequate. The graphics are decent and the sound quality good considering that it's an unauthorized anthology, but there are no liner notes aside from songwriting credits and a reprint of the text from the back cover of a 1965 LP, and the title is given as "Home of the Brave" on the front sleeve and "The Story Of..." on the spine. Its value lies in assembling some fairly good, unclassifiable '60s pop music, albeit by a singer without much vocal character, that official labels have little interest in reissuing.