Monday, October 19, 2009

M: Steve Miller Band

10-19-09 M: Steve Miller Band


I heard “Livin’ In The U.S.A.” on the AM radio about 1968/9, and really liked it. I would’ve had no idea where they came from, but they were obviously American. At the time, I went and found a 7” single of “Livin’ In the U.S.A.” and that’s pretty much all I bought at the time. I do not ‘collect’ the Steve Miller Band, per se – but I do keep a few on hand:


LP BRAVE NEW WORLD CAPITOL US SKAO-184

1969? 9 TRKS

LP CHILDREN OF THE FUTURE re-issue CAPITOL US SKAO-2920

1968 11 TRKS 70's re-issue

LP FLY LIKE AN EAGLE CAPITOL US ST-11497

1976 12 TRKS

CD GREATEST HITS '68 - '73 CAPITOL US CDP 795271.2

1990 19 TRK Collection

CD GREATEST HITS '74 - '78 CAPITOL US 133199D

1978 14 TRK Collection (record club ed.)

7" LIVING IN THE U.S.A. / QUICKSILVER GIRL CAPITOL US 2287

1968? 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

LP NUMBER 5 CAPITOL US SKAO-436

1970? 10 TRKS

CD SAILOR CAPITOL US 94449.2

1969? 10 TRKS

LP SAILOR CAPITOL US STCR-288

1970? 10 TRKS part of LP boxed set


These days, “Children Of The Future” and “Sailor” sounds like classic San Francisco psychedelia. I started working in a hippie record store in 1976, so I saw a new generation of folks take “Fly Like An Eagle” to heart. I love the tales of how angry Steve Miller was when hip-hop artists began sampling the intro to “Fly Like An Eagle”, demanding a full writing credit etc.


I once saw Steve Miller being interviewed on German TV, perhaps on “Beat Club”. He was defending his right to regard his music as business – yes, it was entertainment, but the music he had was definitely his occupation, his business. In the hippie-dippy days of the early 70’s, I can only imagine how this must’ve sounded – “Wow, what a bread head!” or thereabouts. Hopefully, his ‘taking care of business’ meant that Steve Miller didn’t get ripped off as many hippie bands did! Ah, yes – ‘the man’ was still running the show back then – aren’t they still now?


I just saw an advertisement that Steve Miller will be playing live in Los Angeles sometime very soon. Seems unusual…he hasn’t played here in ages.




6 comments:

Jim said...

"The Man" will always run the business as long as there is a business to run... which looks to be about 6-7 years, tops.

It makes perfect sense that he regards music as his profession considering he is Les Paul's grandson! And good for him! I may not dig his music all that much (as a kid I really HATED "The Joker" - still do), but for that attitude alone, he earns my respect. Five'll get you ten he wasn't made a fool of by Capitol.

I would probably like his early material and current material better than his superstar period, methinks. "Livin' In The U.S.A." is a pretty ace tune, I will admit. If I had heard that first, I may like Mr. Miller's music a lot more right now.

Brian Ware said...

Could there be a lamer throw-away song than that "Big Old Jet Airliner" tune? Oh yeah, the one called "Take The Money And Run". At least he was honest with that song title. But I never get tired of "Livin' In The USA" or "Fly Like An Eagle" for that matter. Steve's okay by me.

Jim said...

I'd forgotten "Take The Money & Run." Ech! I can't go there for "Fly Like An Eagle" either. In that period he was doing his Gary Wright impression. If I wanted to hear synthesizer wank, there was always "Lucky Man," a much better proposition. Come to think abput it, "Livin' In The U.S.A." is the only decent Miller tune I can name. Maybe in my old age I'm getting too mellow. F*** Steve Miller, maaaan! That's more like it!!!

I do find the older I get, the more I am willing to cut lame musicians slack, just because they're working in The Business, and by that I mean The Industry. When I was younger, the stakes seemed higher and Steve Miller and all he represented was The Enemy. He represented the death of art, the death of intellect, smug complacency, the triumph of mediocrity and any number of heinous, in my book, sins. Maybe as I'm older I'm debasing my respect, which rightfully should be earned, not doled out to parasites like Steve Miller as if they had some divine right.

Thoughts?

Brian Ware said...

Jim, I've used those very terms to describe nearly all pop music output of at least the last 20 years or so. "Smug complacency and the triumph of mediocrity" indeed! But we know from day one there have always been "artists" whose only muse has been the almighty dollar. I guess I can cut Steve some slack as he's never been particularly obnoxious, and hey, at least he admits it.

Brian Ware said...

And while we're pondering his artistic integrity, let's not forget "Abracadabra, I wanna reach out and grab ya".

Awesome....

chas_m said...

"Jet Airliner" was written by Paul Pena, actually.

Yeah, my view of Miller was one of the bloated superstars of the 70s who needed to be put on an iceberg and shoved out to sea. His early work, which I was never aware of at the time, is more interesting and more creative.

But I'm basically in the "fuck Steve Miller, maaaan" camp. :)