Sunday, October 9, 2016

Elton Pays Tribute to Frankie Miller on New Album

With the recent release of Frankie Miller’s Double Take, Elton adds to the more than 110 songs he has recorded that appear on albums other than his own.

Frankie Miller’s Double Take is a compilation of previously unreleased songs by the Scottish singer and songwriter, best known in the UK for his 1978 hit Darlin’, who suffered a brain haemorrhage in 1994.

Elton sings and plays piano on the track Where Do The Guilty Go, one of the 19 tracks that Frankie demo’d before taking ill and which remained unfinished until this project began a few years ago. Producer David Mackay built the songs up around Frankie’s original vocals using contemporary musicians.

Elton became involved through Stuart Epps. The two have known each other since 1967 when both worked for Dick James Music – Elton as a songwriter and Stuart in the offices and studios.

Stuart Epps: “Frankie’s guitarist, Ray Minhinnett, was in a band that was going to be signed to [Elton’s record label] Rocket in 1972 or ’73. That’s where I first met him and we stayed in touch. He told me about this project and played me this song that he thought was right for Elton. And he was absolutely right – I could hear Elton on it.

“I wasn’t sure Elton would be available, so I waited. I don’t even know how much time passed, but at some point I thought, ‘What if this album comes out with all these amazing duets and then somehow it leaks to Elton that he could have been on it ‘cos Schwepp was given a tape and he stuck it in a drawer?’ I didn’t much like that idea, so I sent the song along.”

Elton’s Creative Consultant Tony King: “I went to Elton with it and of course he knew who Frankie was and straight away said he wanted to be a part of it.”

Epps: “Next thing I knew I got this email saying that he’d be proud to do it, and I nearly fell of me stool. But Frankie Miller was one of these great white blues/soul singers that we had in the early 70s, so someone like Elton would only just look up to him, as did Rod Stewart and many others.”

David Mackay: “Stuart Epps was great getting the song to Elton. We didn’t think we would be that lucky. Elton has never met Frankie, but he was so impressed with the song and Frankie’s amazing vocal. It is such a sad loss Frankie being unable to sing any more.”

Elton (from the album’s documentary trailer): “I get asked to do a lot of things but this was something that I thought would be very special to do. His music should be heard. His music should be remembered, and it should be revered.”

King: “We did the session in London. Elton was rather tired from touring but wanted to make sure this was done.”

Mackay: “Elton arrived around 9.20 in the morning at Metropolis studio in Chiswick. After a quick cup of tea or coffee he was ready to record the piano. I think he played it three times and that was in the can.”

Epps: “He was in a brilliant mood. The thing is he is just such an amazing professional that he just goes into in to Session Musician mode. He kind of made it look a bit like he’d never played it before but you know he probably went through it a bit in his head so he kind of knew what he was gonna do. He was really on fire. But you say that and then you realize he always is, actually.”

Mackay: “He next went into vocal mode and again it took about three passes and by 10.10 we were done! I have been fortunate to record some wonderful stars over 50-odd years but I have never had the luxury of someone so well prepared and amazingly quick at completely understanding a song lyric and melody. He could not have been easier or more professional.”

Epps: “When Elton’s on stage or in the studio, it’s like a switch goes on. He’s just a true professional in every way. He was in a respectful mode for who he was singing with in the song. I was just sitting there thinking, ‘It’s just like the old days.’”

- Elton

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