Frankie Miller is a Johnny Mann-ish soul singer from Scotland whose 10-year career has teamed him with Brinsley Schwartz, a host of ace British sessionmen and their counterparts in New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis. His critical reputation as a gutsy, rough-voiced rocker a la Bob Seeger or Joe Cocker has always exceeded his popular reputation, and his latest album, "Standing on the Edge," suggests that the people may have been right all along.
This time, Miller has landed at Muscle Shoals, the studio that sooner or later is Mecca for every white artist with a penchant for rhythm and blues.
Miller is listed as co-author of five of the songs here with ex-Free bassist Andy Fraser. Not surprisingly, these songs -- 'It's All Coming Down Tonight" or "Don't Stop" -- are the same kind of sodden, blues-tinged hard rock that was Free's staple a decade ago. Miller, who even sounds like Paul Rogers here, was in much better form when he was the passionate and unpretentious pub rocker chasing Otis Redding's ghost.
"Firin' Line," the one band that does have dramatic power and a memorable hook, was co-authored with Moon Martin, a successful songwriter with a knack for brooding and atmospheric pop rock. If this is Miller's most pedestrian outing to date, part of the blame lies with producer Barry Beckett and the Muscle Shoals studio team, which once played everything unabashedly Southern and soulful and now just plays everything. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM: "Standing on the Edge" (Capitol ST- 12206). THE SHOW: This Friday night at 8:30 at the Wax Museum. Graphic: photo