Hurple Hoopla

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Love the V-Roys

So, a few years back, I believe it was in 1998, I received the latest issue of Stereo Review, and as usual I immediately flipped to the back to look at the month's reviews. At the time, on the Review Section opening page they reviewed the "Best of the Month" as decided by the editors. That particular month they awarded the "Best of the Month" award to a 1st album by a band out of Knoxville, TN, Just Add Ice by the V-Roys.

Having gone to college in Knoxville, I was interested in the release and read the review. It was so glowing, I decided to look for the CD and give it a quick preview. That weekend, I travelled to a local record store in Champaign, IL, and noticed that they not only had the CD, but had it amongst their "in-store play" selections. I asked if they'd throw it on for me to hear a little and they agreed. Not 30 seconds into the first song, I had a copy of the CD in my hands and was heading to the counter to purchase it.

And that started my fanaticism with the little band from Knoxville.

That 1st album was perfect. The songwriting was superb. The production, by Steve Earle, was impeccable. The music was exilirating. The only way to really describe this album is to say it sounds like the Replacements if they were from East Tennessee. They consisted of a solid, powerful rhythm section fronted by two singer-songwriters (Mic Harrison and Scott Miller*), one a little more country and one a little more rocjk 'n roll. Egads, it sounds like I am describing Donnie and Marie Osmond, now. Plus, there was one more minor, but I feel important aspect that made these guys sound amazing. Both the frontmen played guitar, however, one played a Gibson Les Paul while the other weilded a Fender Stratocaster. So, the band had both the nice full, rich guitar sound the Les Paul is famous for, as well as the more ballsy, punchy sound that marks the Stratocaster. I have always wondered why more bands haven't tried that mix 'n' match guitar sound, and after hearing these guys do it, I know it works just as well as I always thought it would.

Unfortunately, the band only released one more album, All About Town, but, it too, is a great collection.

However, it is much more a mish-mash than the first. It's apparent that the two songwriters were already growing apart in their styles, with Mic Harrison's material sporting a much harder edge than Scott Miller's. The songs on this CD are more pigeon-holed being definite rock 'n' roll or definite country, without much of the blending of styles that marked the previous effort. In addition, Steve Earle's production seemed more restrictive and confining rather than the airy, breezy production of the 1st. All that said, the material is still wonderful, and it is an overall entertaining collection.

The band released one, final, live album (Are You Through Yet?) via it's website and then quietly split up, mainly because Scott Miller wanted out from under the proverbial thumb of Steve Earle (or so he tells it).

So why do I love these guys? Well, they had all the rock 'n' roll swagger and attitude of the Rolling Stones at their very best when they wanted to. Or, they could turn it around and play a barnstorming, pure country number. Sometimes, they'd even hit both styles in the same song ("Wind Down"). Plus, the songwriting was always top-notch, whether teh song was written by Harrison or Miller. And, each guy had their own distinctive, wonderful voice. What more do you need in a band?

I'll cover the subsequent solo careers of Mic Harrison and Scott Miller in a future post.

* Yes, the same Scott Miller of Scott Miller & The Commonwealth that is the 'house band' on Blue Collar TV


  • It wasn't '98. It had to be between July 96 and Nov. 97... and it couldn't have been at the very end of that time frame.

    I know where we were living when we got that first sampler CD at the little shop in Champaign, because I sat in the kitchen, there, not the computer room, here, when I was corresponding with a very nice lady at E-squared and, later, very, very briefly, with one of the guys in the band, but I forget which.


    ...and I still say their song "Wind Down" is one of the best songs, ever, by ANYone and that it's a shame the conglomerism of the music and broadcasting industries prevented the vast masses in the mainstream from the treat of getting to hear it.

    Great review of a great band, btw!

    By Blogger Melhi, at 9:08 AM  

  • It's hard to count to ten, when I can hardly get to one...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:03 AM  

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