(4 / 5)
What’s not to like? Steve Miller Band. Great singer. Great guitarist. Timeless songs. Part of the soundtrack to my life and to many, many millions of people around the world too.
This collection is a cracker. Two discs in the deluxe edition which I have here. 40 tracks in total; 21 on CD 1 and 19 on CD 2. But it is not just a “greatest hits” collection re-package for the umpteenth time and the same old tracks you and I will have in our collection already. This gives us some rare and previously unreleased gems along with all of the great stuff we already know and probably already own. There’s eight cuts here for the very first time.
The album kicks off with a lovely snapshot of Steve’s childhood, growing up with the legendary Les Paul as his Godfather; and the first track here captures Steve at the age of five talking to Les. Then the record starts proper with the fabulous “Gangster Of Love” Live, the first of the previously unreleased material.
No one really needs to be reminded about how cool his smash hit “The Joker” is, which pops up three tracks in, before another new to the public track, “Baby’s Callin’ Me Home”. The other previously unreleased cuts are a live version of “Living In The USA”, “Space Cowboy” live, studio cut “Seasons”, “Kow Kow Calculator” live, and two more on CD 2: The demo version of “Take The Money And Run” and a studio cut, the Wilson Pickett soul classic “In The Midnight Hour”. There’s plenty more live tracks across the two discs, which have been out previously.
Steve Miller has produced and personally directed the curation and creative process for this new collection. His biggest worldwide chart-toppers are all featured, including the fabulous “Rock’n Me,” Jet Airliner,” “Abracadabra,” “Jungle Love,” and “Fly Like An Eagle.”
He recently took his entire catalogue of recorded music to Capitol, where he originally began his recording career in 1967. Miller has opened his vault/warehouse of music, footage, photos, memorabilia, artwork, handwritten notes, journals, and more to Capitol/UMe to include in his upcoming releases. While selecting material to include in the new collection and revisiting the creation of these recordings, Steve was reminded of how he learned to make multi-track recordings from Les Paul, and play lead guitar from T Bone Walker.
His parents were jazz aficionados – not to mention close friends of Les Paul and Mary Ford – so, as a budding guitarist, Miller absorbed valuable lessons from that musical tradition. When the family moved to Texas, Miller deepened his education in the blues, eventually moving to Chicago, where he played with Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy and Paul Butterfield.
The Steve Miller Band released two LPs on Capitol Records in 1968: “Children of the Future”, and “Sailor”, which included “Living In The USA,” which became a staple on the new rock radio format. Next came “Brave New World”, the band’s third album including the hit “Space Cowboy,” and “My Dark Hour,” which Miller recorded in London with fellow label-mate, Paul McCartney, who is credited as Paul Ramon.
After the band’s next few albums, “Your Saving Grace” (1969), “Rock Love” (1971), “Recall The Beginning” (1972), and “Number 5” (1970), Miller made some changes to the band, went to Los Angeles and produced his own record in 19 days. That album was “The Joker”. The title track became a number one worldwide smash hit.
His next two albums, “Fly Like an Eagle” (1976) and “Book of Dreams” (1977), both went multi-platinum, and the hits they generated are among the most recognisable songs in pop music history. Hit followed hit in what seemed like an endless flow: “Take The Money And Run,” “Rock’n Me,” “Fly Like An Eagle,” “Jet Airliner,” “Jungle Love,” and “Swingtown,” to name a few.
In 1978, Capitol released “Greatest Hits 1974–78”, which has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. Miller had a worldwide hit with “Abracadabra,” the title track of his 1982 album and in 1986, a #1 Billboard hit with “I Want To Make The World Turn Around.”
In recent years, Miller has immersed himself in the blues once again. And, as always, whether he was riding the top of the charts or exploring the blue highways of American music, he is playing and singing with conviction and precision, passion and eloquence. So this collection is the first of many future releases of material plundered from his extensive archives, and maybe some new songs to come too. Bring it on…
By Simon Redley
1. Steve Miller at age five talking to his Godfather Les Paul
2. Gangster Of Love (Live – Previously Unreleased)
3. The Joker
4. Baby’s Callin’ Me Home (Previously Unreleased)
5. My Dark Hour
6. Little Girl
7. Living In The USA (Live – Previously Unreleased)
8. Space Cowboy (Live – Previously Unreleased)
9. Seasons (Previously Unreleased)
10. Journey From Eden
11. Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma
12. Going To Mexico
13. Kow Kow Calculator (Live – Previously Unreleased)
14. Come On In My Kitchen (Live)
15. Sugar Babe (Live)
16. The Lovin’ Cup (Live)
17. Dance, Dance, Dance
18. Take The Money And Run
19. Rock’n Me
20. Space Intro
21. Fly Like An Eagle
1. Wild Mountain Honey
2. The Window
3. Take The Money And Run (Demo) (Previously Unreleased)
4. In The Midnight Hour (Previously Unreleased)
5. Jungle Love
7. Jet Airliner
8. The Stake
10. Serenade From The Stars
11. True Fine Love
12. Heart Like A Wheel
14. I Want To Make The World Turn Around
15. Italian X Rays
16. Don’t Cha Know
17. Cry Cry Cry
18. Stranger Blues
19. Behind The Barn
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’