released June 15th, 2010
from the album - Hey Yeah
from all music
Steve Miller's career has encompassed two distinct stages: one of the top San Francisco blues-rockers during the late '60s and early '70s, and one of the top-selling pop/rock acts of the mid- to late '70s and early '80s with hits like "The Joker," "Fly Like an Eagle," "Rock'n Me," and "Abracadabra." Miller was turned on to music by his father, who worked as a pathologist but knew stars like Charles Mingus and Les Paul, whom he brought home as guests; Paul taught the young Miller some guitar chords and let him sit in on a session. Miller formed a blues band, the Marksmen Combo, at age 12 with friend Boz Scaggs; the two teamed up again at the University of Wisconsin in a group called the Ardells, later the Fabulous Night Trains. Miller moved to Chicago in 1964 to get involved in the local blues scene, teaming with Barry Goldberg for two years.
He then moved to San Francisco and formed the first incarnation of the Steve Miller Blues Band, featuring guitarist James "Curly" Cooke, bassist Lonnie Turner, and drummer Tim Davis. The band built a local following through a series of free concerts and backed Chuck Berry in 1967 at a Fillmore date later released as a live album. Scaggs moved to San Francisco later that year and replaced Cooke in time to play the Monterey Pop Festival; it was the first of many personnel changes. Capitol signed the group as the Steve Miller Band following the festival.
The band flew to London to record Children of the Future, which was praised by critics and received some airplay on FM radio. It established Miller's early style as a blues-rocker influenced but not overpowered by psychedelia. The follow-up, Sailor, has been hailed as perhaps Miller's best early effort; it reached number 24 on the Billboard album charts and consolidated Miller's fan base. A series of high-quality albums with similar chart placements followed; while Miller remained a popular artist, pop radio failed to pick up on any of his material at this time, even though tracks like "Space Cowboy" and "Brave New World" had become FM rock staples. Released in 1971, Rock Love broke Miller's streak with a weak band lineup and poor material, and Miller followed it with the spotty Recall the Beginning: A Journey from Eden. Things began to look even worse for Miller when he broke his neck in a car accident and subsequently developed hepatitis, which put him out of commission for most of 1972 and early 1973.
Miller spent his recuperation time reinventing himself as a blues-influenced pop/rocker, writing compact, melodic, catchy songs. This approach was introduced on his 1973 LP, The Joker, and was an instant success, with the album going platinum and the title track hitting number one on the pop charts. Now an established star, Miller elected to take three years off. He purchased a farm and built his own recording studio, at which he crafted the wildly successful albums Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams at approximately the same time. Fly Like an Eagle was released in 1976 and eclipsed its predecessor in terms of quality and sales (over four million copies) in spite of the long downtime in between. It also gave Miller his second number one hit with "Rock'n Me," plus several other singles. Book of Dreams was almost as successful, selling over three million copies and producing several hits as well. All of the hits from Miller's first three pop-oriented albums were collected on Greatest Hits 1974-1978, which to date has sold over six million copies and remains a popular catalog item.
Miller again took some time off, not returning again until late 1981 with the disappointing Circle of Love. Just six months later, Miller rebounded with Abracadabra; the title track gave him his third number one single. The remaining albums released in the '80s Italian X Rays,1984; Living in the 20th Century, 1986; and Born 2B Blue, 1988 weren't consistent enough to be critically or commercially successful. The early '90s saw Miller return to form with Wide River (the title track becoming a Top 40 chart entry) and the release of a retrospective box set compiled by the artist himself. Miller continued to headline shows into the 2000s, sharing the bill with classic rock acts such as 2008 tourmate Joe Cocker. In 2010, he and his band released Bingo!, the first release on Miller's own Space Cowboy Records.
Bingo! is the Steve Miller Band's first studio record in 17 years. Thematically, it's a look back at the the electric blues and R&B that influenced him as a young man. Issued on his own Space Cowboy imprint, is also the final recorded appearance of blues harmonica great Norton Buffalo who passed away in 2009. Blues classics by B.B. King, Lowell Fulsom, Otis Rush, Howlin' Wolf, Earl King, Jimmy Reed, and Jessie Hill are here, along with three selections by contemporary bluesman Jimmie Vaughan. What all of these tracks all have in common is Miller's signature approach: he is a stellar guitarist who has no need to show off, a tight arranger, and an intuitive modern producer (with help from Andy Johns).These 14 tunes (all under four minutes) actually extend the electric blues tradition. While paying tribute to his heroes and contemporaries, there are also nods to his own history as a recording artist. Check Vaughan's "Hey Yeah," with wah-wah guitars and killer solo breaks in the intro and verses. Miller's and Buffalo's harmonies are tight, and evoke the early fusion of blues with psychedelic rock (ΰ la the earliest Steve Miller Band). One can also hear traces of Jimi Hendrix's production style in the tune as well as in his stellar version of Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)," that adds some gorgeous Latin percussion courtesy of Michael Carabello and Adrian Areas to the silvery, reverb-laden guitar work. Fulsom's "Tramp" has that trademark opening chord, but the rest is pure Miller. He plays sparely, but with swagger aplenty, the funky shuffle at its heart played by rhythm guitar ace Kenny Lee is deep in the pocket; the vocal trade-off between Buffalo and Miller is priceless. The lone ballad on the set is the Vaughan/Nile Rodgers' tune "Sweet Soul Vibe." With Joe Satriani guesting (he appears on "Rock Me Baby" as well) it touches on gospel, soul, and modern R&B. Miller's and Satriani's alternate leads are deceptively sweet, but they feel more like knives being sharpened and carried confidently in sheaths. Earl King's "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" is a burning solo workout and takes the party jam into an entirely new musical dimension. Vocally, Miller touches on his '70s persona, but it's only a glance; the rest is burning blues. There are also four bonus tracks, the most notable are readings of Elmore James' "Look on Yonder Wall" with a killer vocal from Buffalo and the closer, Roosevelt Sykes' "Drivin' Wheel," with Miller's filthiest guitar work of the set. This is a welcome return for Miller, and a must for modern electric blues fans.
1 Hey Yeah Ray, Vaughan 3:16
2 Who's Been Talkin' Burnett 3:03
3 Don't Cha Know Vaughan 3:12
4 Rock Me Baby Josea, King 3:47
5 Tramp Fulson, McCracklin 3:26
6 Sweet Soul Vibe Rodgers, Vaughan 3:38
7 Come On (Let the Good Times Roll) King 2:38
8 All Your Love (I Miss Loving) Rush 3:11
9 You Got Me Dizzy Abnder, Reed 2:22
10 Ooh Poo Pah Doo Hill 3:31
11 Ain't That Lovin' You Baby Reed 2:22
12 Further on Up the Road Robey, Veasey 2:34
13 Look on Yonder Wall James, Sehorn 3:08
14 Drivin' Wheel Sykes 3:38