The Very Best of the Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band

1992: Mushroom MUSH32472.2

  1. Space Intro
  2. Fly Like an Eagle
  3. The Joker
  4. Abracadabra
  5. Give It Up
  6. Rock n’ Me
  7. Macho City
  8. Serenade from the Stars
  9. Threshold
  10. Jet Airliner
  11. Keeps Me Wondering Why
  12. Jungle Love
  13. Take the Money and Run
  14. True Fine Love
  15. Wild Mountain Honey
  16. Winter Time
  17. The Stake
  18. Swingtown
  19. The Window

As a child of the ’70s, I grew up with some of these tracks—some on radio, some as ubiquitous elements of the sonic tapestry of the Southeastern Washington State Fair along with countless other 1970s radio classics now forever associated with carnival rides and the charmingly grimy glamour of the whole experience. Those include “Fly Like an Eagle,” “The Joker,” “Rock n’ Me,” “Jungle Love,” “Take the Money and Run,” and “Jet Airliner.”

But one reason I enjoy having this compilation is that it includes odder tracks by the band, stuff that may have been intended to be hits but which totally missed as the music landscape boiled and then erupted perhaps in reaction to Disco; and Miller and his band seem to have gambled where things were going and guessed wrong, if the really ghastly “Macho City” is any indication (and this is the short version!). It also brought back to my attention tracks I was barely aware of when they were getting airplay, such as “Swingtown,” and ones that may have flitted across my premature radar such as “The Stake&148; but also “Abracadabra” which was a delightful glimpse of what Miller and his band might have been able to ride out the early 1980s on but didn’t manage to do. I remember “Abracadabra” from the summer of 1982, and even though it’s really just a tawdry little song it did play the musical field of the day deftly and still remains a grudgingly acknowledged favorite in my library.

But really it’s the hits that I have this for, unsurprisingly, and a large part of the reason for that is the vocal arrangements. To sing along with just about any part of the chorus of “Jet Airliner” is, to this day, a rapturous delight when the moment’s right; to sing it with others who can actually sing it right would be nearly orgasmic. Ditto many of the others, to a lesser degree. I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing/seeing Miller talk about creating those glorious-yet-gritty parts, but I’m very grateful to him for having concocted them at all.