Chris Mills – Heavy Years 2000-2010

January 01, 1970

(Ernest Jenning Record Co.)


A greatest hits collection by a guy who’s never had a hit
and known to only a handful of fans is, to say the least, a rather ironic
proposition. Yet, in the case of Chris Mills, it reflects the fact that by all
rights he should be a star, and would be if the world would wake up to his
talents. He’s an ideal example of a genuinely deserving musician, one
possessing the hooks, instincts and sheer savvy to share the same stage with
Springsteen, Mellencamp, Petty, or for that matter, any of the other populist
icons the media has so freely embraced. While his lack of major label support
suggests that prospect won’t come true any time soon, Heavy Years 2000-2010 provides credible proof he’s patiently
waiting in the wings. A formidable talent whose songs ring with resolve and
authenticity, Mills makes his vocals the binding element in a delivery that’s
rich, plaintive, aching and optimistic, depending on the setting. The music
brands him as both a tireless troubadour of the Americana variety and a pop purist, capable
of eliciting broad acceptance in either realm.


Then there are the songs themselves, all richly embossed
with sumptuous arrangements that take full advantage of brass, strings and a
large complement of the Chicago’s music community. Granted, any tune that uses
suicide as a muse (“Suicide Note”), name drops Hitler or Japanese Emperor  Tojo (“Atom Smashers”), or romances the radio
as an object of affection (“You Are My Favorite Song”) might seem an unlikely
anthem. Credit resolute refrains that reflect an indomitable spirit, one that’s
etched in every groove.


Likewise, the fact that John Wesley Harding is an admirer
speaks volumes, and his descriptive liner notes provide the unawares with a
perfect primer. As Harding notes in his conclusion, Heavy Years 2000-2010 is simply a sampler, which, once heard, will
certainly convince newcomers of the need to acquire more of Mills’ catalog.


Are My Favorite Song,” “Atom Smashers,” “Suicide Note” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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