Scottish singer Frankie Miller, willing and able as he is, has been a prisoner of his own material since he began recording more than a decade ago. His remakes of the Memphis sound of the '60s and, now, old Bad Company records, have neither the heart nor the soul of his rhythm-&-blues-tinged voice.
This was more apparent than ever Friday night at the Wax Museum, where Miller appeared with his four-person band. Performing songs primarily from his new album, "Standing on the Edge," Miller got off to a rocky start. The culprit was obvious very soon: Miller.
Or, rather, his songwriting. A good singer and interpreter of others' songs (particularly Bob Marley's), Miller is, at best, indifferent when taking pen in hand. The lyrics are uninspired; the melodies lack memorable lines or hooks; the tempo almost invariably is medium, meaning his songs are too slow to dance to but too loud to talk over.
Early in the set, songs like "Zap Zap" and "Danger, Danger" appeared to be an extension of one another, with no discernable difference. Miller sang forcibly; his band was in sync--but something was missing.
Abruptly, however, the music took a turn for the better. Starting with Moon Martin's "Bad Case of Lovin' You (Doctor, Doctor)," the pace picked up; this was crisp, assertive rock 'n' roll, and the dance floor was soon crowded.
Miller and his band swaggered into "Woman in Love" and the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together," and finished splendidly with their second encore, Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie." All that was needed was a little outside help.