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Classic Rock News And Views
October 1, 2012
Photo and Story by Scott Smith
Several laid-back grooves, multiple bouncy guitar solos and a terrific six-string tone are what the Steve Miller Band delivered in Tulsa, Okla., on Sept. 28.
Performing at the Tulsa Hard Rock’s Joint for the first time, Miller and his dexterous group leaned heavily on hit-single territory and choice-album cuts for a perfectly paced, 120-minute set. Even the tracks that can’t be found on Miller’s immensely popular “Greatest Hits 1974-1978″ album were embraced by the capacity, party-craving crowd.
Miller’s momentum-gathering set kicked off with a high-gear take of “Jungle Love,” with Miller’s pouncing Fender Stratocaster cranking out the track’s legendary guitar riffs. “Take the Money and Run,” with its on-the-road story of two young lovers trying to evade bouts with their own boredom and the gun-drawing police, came second to rapturous applause.
“Abracadabra,” Miller’s hit single from 1982, and the wonderful, vibe-creating “The Stake” also stood at the front end of the set list, while SMB’s “other” singer, the perpetually dancing Sonny Charles, took over the microphone for an outstanding run-through of the old blues-rock workhorse, “Further On Up the Road.”
Other tracks making the Tulsa set list were grade-A readings of the eerie “Fly Like an Eagle” and the sing-along favorite “Jet Airliner,” as well as Miller’s high-decibel salute to all military personnel, 1968′s “Living in the USA.” Miller took a mid-set moment to turn in an acoustic, one-man medley of “Wild Mountain Honey,” “The Window” and “Dance, Dance, Dance,” and he and the band later delivered a perfect take of “Rock’n Me,” a timeless radio classic that has always sounded like the sonic baby of The Beach Boys and The Eagles.
Throughout the joyous evening, Miller was in excellent voice and spirits — can he really be 68 years old now? — and his guitar tone was every bit as rich and unique as it was on the songs’ original vinyl versions. Miller’s undying blues roots stood tall and proud on the Hard Rock’s often-shadowed stage, with each guitar solo highlighted by bending notes and sustained lead passages.
After delivering a near-perfect main set, Miller and his colleagues returned for happy-go-lucky interpretations of “Space Cowboy” and “Swingtown” before starting the opening chords of Miller’s trademark composition, “The Joker.” Deserving its on-going status of pop-culture greatness, the boozy, infectious “The Joker” featured Miller’s inspired, slide-guitar playing and his instantly identifiable voice. Each time Miller smiled from behind his dark sunglasses, audience members found it impossible not to grin back at rock and roll’s Space Cowboy.
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.
June 5, 2010
Steve Miller is one of those guys you could pass on the street and never know he was a rock icon. Naturally, dedicated fans would be likely to recognize him, but quite frankly, he looks like just another middle-aged guy.
It doesn’t end there. I’ve seen him just a few times in interviews, and he just comes across as a regular guy, and I think that’s pretty cool. I’ve always impressed by genuine humility coming from a celebrity.
Miller is currently on the road performing many of his classic hits, as well as material from his forthcoming new album, Bingo! In addition to the new material, Miller and Co. are also be showcasing a brand-new stage design. If one were to sum up the new design with one word, I think that “guitars” would be the obvious choice.
The video below provides a look behind the scenes and some insight regarding the concept that inspired the new design, as well as how it was implemented. It’s obvious from Miller’s reaction to his first look at the completed design that he’s quite satisfied with the result.
Steve Miller fans will also be interested to learn that they have a chance to win a Fender Stratocaster autographed by Miller. For details and a chance to win, check out TouchTunes.
June 1, 2010
As The Steve Miller Band prepare to release Bingo! — the band’s first new album in 17 years — on June 16th, Steve Miller is giving us some insight into the recording of the album.
Featuring a look inside the studio with producer Andy Johns, and some ear candy in the form of "Hey Yeah" and "You Got Me Dizzy," the video below shows Steve Miller going through the making of and inspiration behind Bingo! – an album that industry insiders are already comparing to Miller’s 1968 masterpiece Sailor.
For the overall feel-good vibe of the forthcoming album, Miller explains, "It’s a record to get out and dance and have a good time."
Bingo! will be the first of two albums that were recorded together as a complete body of work, with the first out June 15th, and the second of which will be offered next year. Watch the video below and stay tuned for more from The Steve Miller Band and Bingo! coming soon.
The Steve Miller Band will tour in support of the new album this summer! For more on dates and ticket information, go right here