1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – Mrs Miller’s Greatest Hits

1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#22: Mrs Miller – Mrs Miller’s Greatest Hits (1966)

MATT KELLY finds himself actually enjoying this awful album, and siding with the masses who put it on the charts in the ’60s.

Proof that meme lords come in all shapes and sizes, 59-year-old Missouri housewife Elva Miller emerged as an unlikely star in the mid-’60s.

In the late ’50s, Miller began to make recordings of popular songs of the day in her ludicrously over-acted operatic style and distribute them to friends, family, and places such as nursing homes. Her recordings somehow found their way into the hands of broadcasting legend Gary Owens who was so amused he not only played them on his show but also had Miller as a guest live in the studio on several occasions. She was bigger than you might expect; this, her facetiously titled debut LP, sold a quarter of a million copies.

The premise is somewhat similar to Florence Foster Jenkins, though Miller is easier to enjoy as she was in on the joke and has an easy, joyous charisma that makes her adorable.

Crucially, she is also, *not actually that bad at singing*. On a track like ‘Dear Heart’ which is slow and old-fashioned, she almost sounds at home. The comedy comes when her producers, who I am sure knew exactly what they were doing, give her something fast and modern which her style is not suited for. When she takes on The Beatles’ ‘Hard Day’s Night’ as though it were Wagner it’s impossible not to smile. Her discomfort with the range and pace of Petula Clark makes both ‘Downtown’ and ‘My Love’ hilarious, and The Toys’ ‘Lover’s Concerto’ is a glorious trainwreck.

A terrible album in the best way, Mrs Miller’s Greatest Hits is a delightful catastrophe. Miller is never wretched, but having a great old time sharing her joy of singing and encouraging others to do it, however “good” or not they might be.

 

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