And More...

Almost as soon as Sailor was finished, Scaggs was off, apparently due to the ubiquitous creative differences. Peterman departed as well, and the band continued working live as a trio, adding mates such as Nicky Hopkins and Ben Sidran (who’d been a member of the Ardells back in Wisconsin) on keyboards in the studio.

1969’s Brave New World, again cut in England featured a guest appearance by Paul McCartney (aka Paul Ramon) on My Dark Hour and made it as high as #22. Later in the year Your Saving Grace made it to #38, then 1970’s Number 5 hit #23 before the wheels, more or less fell off.

A broken neck in a car accident put Miller out of action for a while, and gave Capitol Records an excuse to release Rock Love in 1971, an undistinguished mixture of unreleased live performances and studio material. By that point I was a confirmed fan but it seemed like a case of diminishing returns over time. On the basis of Rock Love I was quite ready to write Miller off, but Recall the Beginning... A Journey From Eden was a welcome return to quite sublime form. For some reason the album never came out on CD, though there it is, large as life, in the iTunes Music Store. Go figure.

Readers who are familiar with Steve Miller’s work probably know it from one of the succession of albums and singles that followed The Joker in 1973. The single hit #1 in the States and the album was certified platinum.

Three years later, Fly Like An Eagle delivered three hit singles: Take The Money and RunFly Like an Eagle and Rock 'N Me, and the following year Book Of Dreams, Jet AirlinerJungle Love and Swingtown kept the money rolling in, but by this point I’d more or less had enough. 

Albums like 1982's Abracadabra were pleasant enough ear candy but I couldn’t see the point in shelling out hard earned that could be invested in other directions on music that, regardless of the number of copies sold, seemed like a pale echo of the early Steve Miller Band albums. So what was it about those first four albums that was so good? Let’s go back and do a track by track, album by album Rear View.

A few preliminary observations first. A glance at the writing credits on my hard copies of the first three albums reveals that while Miller gets the most writing credits, Scaggs made significant contributions and once he was gone Brave New World’s nine tracks include four co-writes with Ben Sidran and contributions from drummer Davis and bass player Lonnie Turner to go with Miller’s three solo writing credits.


B© Ian Hughes 2012