Scottish blue-eyed soul singer Frankie Miller made his name on the English pub rock circuit in the early ’70s; and spent around a decade-and-a-half cutting albums of traditional rhythm/blues, rock & roll and country music. His recorded legacy as an avatar of American roots music was so compelling that his original material was covered by artists from all genres(Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, Don Williams and UFO). He was a “hit machine” with the songs he wrote.. Miller scored a surprise U.K. Top 10 smash in 1978 with “Darlin'”. Givin’ his affable soulful style it garnered the popular airing that fans felt he deserved all along.
In August 1994, Miller suffered a devastating brain hemorrhage that left him in a coma for five months. Unable to walk or talk upon his emergence, Frankie rehabilitated himself enough to begin writing songs again and do limited performing. As the story goes he was dead broke and unable to pay for his continued medical treatment. There was planned in the late-’90s a benefit concert in Edinburgh which featured Elton John, Rod Stewart, Joe Walsh, Paul Carrack and Kid Rock. The overwhelming reception to the concert made doing a “duets” album seem only natural.
Scottish Soul Singer Frankie Miller
Fellow Glaswegian indie rock band, The Fratellis have just released their fifth studio album,“In Your Sweet Time”. It’s been two years since their previous album… “Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied” came out. Their simple melodies are embedded with arty effects and at times washed with some pretty “dope” guitar work masked behind vintage Celtic skiffle rhythms. Formed in 2005 they’ve established a reputation of ramshackle anthems about heartbreaks and hangovers.
The Fratellis broke with their debut single, “Chelsea Dagger” back in 2006. It created such a huge furor on the U.K. charts and music tabloids that to this day it still gets anthem lusty cheers at soccer matches across the globe. To make things even grander, The Fratellis were anointed British Breakthrough Act in 2007. The band consists of three brothers… from different mothers! I know its getting confusing. The band is Jon Fratelli (born John Lawler) on guitar/vocals… Barry Fratelli (born Barry Wallace) bass guitarist and drummer and backing vocalist Mince Fratelli (born Gordon McRory).There you have it!
The new album, “In Your Own Sweet Time” grapples with climactic choruses obsessed with relationship dissonance. Jon Fratelli’s passages invigorates with themes of soured love outings that have smacked him down. Regardless of accepting responsibility, he never allows himself to go “down with the count”. He miraculously picks himself up with new gumption and seems to carry on. You’d never expect lyrics that are so self-loathing and disruptive would create such glee.
Overall, the album in a vague way picks up where the Beatles’ “White Album” left off… I’m sure this seems sacrilegious for a music journalist, but I’m entirely serious… “toe to toe” There’s a Paul McCartney touch of melodic reality while at the same time you recognize Lennon’s flippant sarcasm. Like the “White Album” there’s no real “sameness” from one track to another. Listen to “Stand Up Tragedy”.. “Sugartown”, “Advaita Shuffle” and of course my favorite song “Told You So”…
The Fratellis recorded the album in Los Angeles under the production helm of Tony Hoffer (Belle & Sebastian & The Kooks ) who has been responsible for some of the most successful indie-rock albums of recent years.
Coinciding with one of the most socially tumultuous periods in the history of America, The Fratellis don’t reflect the era of political dystopia… They seem to transcend it with sharp wit and compelling melodies amassed within relationship dysfunction… The album’s thematic gist is that someone out there is going to break your heart someday. Just like its happened to me… I am now an avid fan..
I had the pleasure of asking some queries to Jon Fratellis as the band sets out on their American tour.
Rock Bands of L.A.com:I need to know the answer to this question..and we’ll talk about the new album… I’ve read that “Chelsea Dagger” is played at many “football” games. It’s a welcome phenomenon .. Where did this start? In Glasgow? They play it after every Chicago.. Blackhawks hockey game. Give it time for other sport American teams start playing it… While I’m asking, what’s your fave football team?
Jon Fratelli:I’ve no idea where or when this started… the first we heard Celtic Football Club in Glasgow were using it after every goal, being the team I grew up supporting this was pretty good fun. It’s not something I pay much attention to, it is what it is.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Now on to new business….Your band has a very satirical view of love and relationships gone awry. If I may be so bold….. “Stand Up Tragedy”.. It’s a Paul McCartney melody with John Lennon glib irony. When so many bands are writing songs about political dystopia (Brexit, Trumpism, gun control and #metoo) the window is wide open for your commentary on the subject. Have you ever considered moving to these uncharted themes for The Fratellis?
Jon Fratelli: I don’t think the world has any problems, the whole thing is a giggle and should never be taken too seriously, it has never appealed to me to write about so called problems as I don’t see any. Songs of love and hate, the dance between women and men and all of the strangeness that ensues has always seemed more interesting to me.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: You recorded “In Your Sweet Time” here in Los Angeles..(I think you recorded the “Wide Eyed..” album in L.A. too). I’ve always believed that a location can have a lot to do with music inspiration… How did L.A. effect you? L.A. is kinda’ like a poker game… The men “fold” while the women, “flush”…. Songs from “In Your Own Sweet Time” has a real L.A. vibe from the 60’s and 70’s. Don’t get me wrong… this is to your credit. How did you meet Tony Hoffer and how much influence did he have?
John Fratelli: Tony produced our first album and we’ve worked with him a lot since then, he brings something to our band that we can’t bring on our own. LA was the first place outside Scotland I’d visited as an adult. I love the place, won’t hear a bad word said against it. Given that all of the songs are written in Glasgow where we have a distinct lack of sunshine I don’t think the songs themselves are influenced by that part of the world but they are influenced by decades of “American” music. I will concede though that recording in the sunshine does help!
More tour information at Fretellis.com
I’d like to thank the following folks for making this a labor of love for me… Kevin Sutter, Marc Schapiro and of course Jon Fratelli…