By Katherine Cole
Scott Miller died this week at 53. Critics and fellow musicians would refer to the former Loud Family singer as “one of America’s most underappreciated songwriters.” He was he kind of artist who devoted fans just knew would be HUGE… if only more people had the chance to hear him.
Before he started Loud Family, Scott formed a power pop band called Game Theory in the early 1980s. That’s when I first heard his songs. They weren’t played on the radio here in Washington, I only learned of the band because of my friend Jamie in San Diego. He loved the band so much he made it his mission to expose all his friends to songs like “Erica’s Word”
Game Theory went on to release 8 albums, but they’re all long out of print. After that band broke up, Miller formed Loud Family, putting out a handful of records (studio and live) and EPs before calling it quits in 2006. But Scott Miller never stopped writing, he just changed things up a bit. Instead of putting out new songs, he started a blog. Which turned into the book “Music: What Happened?”, a look at his favorite songs from 1957 to 2009, picking ’57 as a start date because it’s the year that rock and roll was born. It’s an interesting book—Miller even instructs us on how to listen to the songs he spotlights.
I think my favorite of his record reviews is for the Jackson Five’s 1970 hit “The Love You Save.”
“It was years before I noticed that the boyfriends in the second verse had inventor names, as in, “When Alexander called you, you said he rang your chimes”–Alexander Graham Bell, get it? Making this a very clever but bizarre song, since the chorus conceit is traffic safety (Stop the love you save may be your own/Darling look both ways before you cross me”). Anyway, it’s a devastatingly catchy chorus tune, Berry Gordy’s polyrhythm-venturing production is exactly right, and the vocal trade-off from Michael to Jermaine works surprisingly well.”
If you’d like to read more of Scott Miller’s thoughts on music, his website has links to a few chapters and you can also listen to some of the songs he cites as favorites.
While he hadn’t been recording recently, his website notes that Scott had been planning to start working on a new Game Theory album, Supercalifragile, later this year and “was looking forward to getting back into the studio and reuniting with some of his former collaborators.”
I noted earlier that the Game Theory CDs are out of print. Scott Miller’s webmaster wants to make sure that fans are able to hear his music, so she is making them available to you as free downloads—at least for a limited time. Details here.