Dylan and Springsteen slept soundly the night in 1982 that they heard Miller’s lyrical genius on the title track of the first of these albums: “Abra-dabracadabra/ I wanna reach out and grab ya”. But who said pop should be wordy and articulate to make its mark? It’s the delightful dumbness of that worldwide hit that’s kept it in our hearts for so long.
Nothing else on the parent album reaches quite as dizzying a height, Miller perhaps allowing synths to dominate too much at the expense of the sprightly guitar hooks that held court on his previous releases. Something Special and Things I Told You are closer to the building-block pop of Todd Rundren, while Goodbye Love is a pleasing country canter.
Two years later, Italian X Rays was released to the proud PR boast that it was one of the first albums to be recorded entirely digitally – and the record suffers from more attention being paid to the technology than the tunes. The single Bongo Bongo and Shangri-La sound clinical and forced, but the jerky power-pop of Golden Opportunity tries hard to match the melodic warmth of old.
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.