After the success of Fly Like An Eagle
, Steve Miller released Book Of Dreams
, an album recorded at the same sessions as its predecessor.
As a result, it’s similar in look and feel though arguably not as strong.
Emulating the Space Intro on his previous album, you have beautiful, mellow, interludes such as Electro Lux Imbroglio and Threshold.
Jet Airliner and Jungle Love provided the hits, while Babes In The Wood and My Own Space occupy a similar place to Wild Mountain Honey -- with Babes being very, very Jethro Tull-like.
Elsewhere the gorgeous, keening Winter Time owes a respectable debt to Simon & Garfunkel.
There was a three-year gap before Circle Of Love, an interesting album that remains a favourite due to the odd, side-long Macho City. Its other four tracks are sweet and slight, taking a step back into doo wop and rockabilly as a delayed reaction to new wave. The title track is low-key, while Heart Like A Wheel remains a tremendously affectionate tribute to Dave Edmunds. Macho City, however, is incredible – after a sardonic put-down of strident warmongering, the track dissolves into a sumptuous groove (imagine a stoner version of Frankie’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome). This strange mixture was a little way away from what the US public had been expecting and, as a result, Circle Of Love was a commercial misstep. Miller would return with Abracadabra in 1982, and the pop charts became his again.
San Franciscan giant’s 1977 and 1981 albums.
Between The Joker and the grisly Abracadabra, Steve Miller consolidated and then almost lost his arena-filling status. Book Of Dreams saw Miller take a backseat songwriting role, but his guitar playing shone and Swingtown was a joyful gem. Circle Of Love had Miller back aboard the songwriting horse, but sales were lukewarm since, after a conventional first side, the second was devoted to the 16-minute Macho City, a wholly out-of-character, dance-tinged, politically prescient montage that scared the hell out of his middle American fan base. Needless to say it’s brilliant.
Here are four CDs from Texan guitarist and singer, Steve Miller, who’s been active on the American rock scene since 1968, when he formed his first professional band with Boz Scaggs.
Book Of Dreams was originally released in 1977 and includes three tracks that went on to become hit singles in the USA, Jet Airliner, Jungle Love and Swingtown.
Circle Of Love, released in 1982, spawned another US hit single in Heart Like A Wheel but also includes the self-indulgent Macho City, which lasts more that 16 minutes and took up the whole one side of the original LP.
Abracadabra, released the following year, is far more commercial, with the title track (which I’ll be playing on my BBC WM radio show on Tuesday night), topping the American singles charts and very nearly doing the same here in the UK.
Italian X Rays was first released in 1984 and was one of the first albums to be recorded entirely digitally but sadly the album yielded no significant hit single for Miller.
As well as these re-releases, check out the latest Steve Miller Band album, Bingo, on the Roadrunner label. It was one of the best blues-rock albums of 2010.
Last, but not least, is the news that Miller will release a new album, Let Your Hair Down, on April 18.
It was recorded as a more mainstream companion to the blues-based Bingo.
From tentative beginnings, the Steve Miller Band became hugely successful, with 1976’s Fly Like An Eagle propelling them into rock’s first division. The following year’s Book Of Dreams was equally huge, generating major US hits in the form of Jet Airliner, Swingtown and Jungle Love. Its 1981 follow-up Circle Of Love is a slightly schizophrenic and less fulfilling album, on which Miller dashes off a couple of commercially viable and successful tracks in Heart Like A Wheel and the title track but then goes retro, with the more difficult and extremely lengthy Macho City, which occupies 16 minutes, many of them unnecessarily. Both of these albums boast remastered sound and new liner notes.