June 10, 2010
It’s been 17 long years, but The Steve Miller Band is back with a brand-new studio album that’s set to hit stores on June 15th. Those anxious to get a listen can check it out for free online at Yahoo Music.
For those of you that are still reading, it’s probably fair for me to say that I’m not and never been a huge Steve Miller fan. I’ve never bought one of The Steve Miller Band’s albums, but at the same time, I never considered their music a “channel changer” either.
That means if I was tooling round town in my 1973 Chevy Laguna back in the old days, and a Steve Miller song came on the radio, I would not have changed the channel. It was one of those acts that I liked enough to listen to on the radio, but not quite enough to buy the record, the cassette or the, ahem, 8-track.
The new album is called Bingo! and I’m listening to it as I write, hoping the impressions will flow smoother “in the moment.”
First things first. I really do like this album. And believe me, nobody is paying me to say that. Unless of course you consider a digital download of the album for review purposes a “pay off.” With all the shenanigans going on these days just about everywhere, I think it’s important that readers know that I don’t do “paid reviews.”
Back to business. When I first fired up Bingo! in the MP3 player (what’s an “8-track?”), what struck me right off was, “Hey, that’s Steve Miller!”
What I mean is that he sounds just like he did in 1973! It seems as if the man’s voice has not changed at all in 40 or so years! That’s not a bad thing, it was just kind of cool for me to put that on after many years of not hearing him, and discovering that he sounds exactly the same. Maybe I’m alone on this one, but it just struck me as kind of weird – in a cool sort of way.
Track number one is called “Hey Yeah,” and it introduces us to a more blues-oriented Steve Miller with a dash of funk thrown into the mix. The entire album sounds more laid back to me when compared with some of his previous hits, but since it’s Miller indulging the blues side of his musical persona, that’s to be expected.
“Who’s Been Talking” takes us firmly into blues territory, and although I’m hesitant to compare anyone to the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan, it sounds a bit like something he might have done. Not being a huge blues guy, SRV is one of a very few genuine blues guitarists I’ve spent any significant amount of time listening to. In fact, Bingo! includes some cover tracks written by SRV’s brother Jimmie, among others by legends like B.B. King.
Rather than running down the entire list, I feel pretty safe saying you will probably like this new album if you are a fan a bluesy, guitar-driven rock and roll. The band is solid and the album also features some very capable guest performers, including Joe Satriani and the group’s newest member, vocalist Sonny Charles (formerly with the Checkmates) whose sound cannot not be improved upon much if you’re looking for a guy to make a blues album with.
Miller has described Bingo! as a “party record,” a description I find no fault with. I can easily imagine this album fueling a dance floor crammed with gyrating party goers. On the other hand, it’s a good foot-tapping album to just sit and listen to as well, particularly for guitar lovers. Not terribly surprising since we are talking about Steve Miller here.
Changes in the music business have really shaken things up in recent years, and as a result, fans have access to stuff we would have never dreamed of years ago. Take advantage of the digital revolution and check Bingo! out for yourself online now.