Steve Miller Band
This is a wonky head trip, with Miller in full technological vibe (guitar, synths and all) for what that’s worth mid-70s style (worth a lot I’m sayin’ cuz this thing’s recorded so well it streams up the needle, through the cart, along the tone arm, and then literally jumps outta your speakers) and, I swear, on the most lysergic cut, Wild Mountain Honey, I’m hearing a sitar floating amongst other cosmic sonic delights.
Not psychedelic but a perfect bong spin.
And check out that Robert Smith-like Cure rhythm guitar driving Serenade just hanging below Miller’s vocals, which melt all buttery over the proceedings. This is vocal authority pure and simple and its a shame this kinda stuff seems dated when compared to today’s auto-tune digital dreck.
Guest shots on this loopy opus include James Cotton blowin’ harp on the blues infusion Sweet Maree and Les Dudek stroking slide guitar on the album closer The Window.
So, like everything, this just sounds way best on vinyl but, here’s the deal, finding a clean version at your local LP dealer is almost impossible. Kids back in ’76 were prone to all kinds of vinyl abuse, smearing their hash oil greased fingers all over the grooves, not to mention dropping the needle without regard any old place on the circle. I’ve seen copies of this with such deep divots, I’d almost written it off as never making its way back (that’s right…back) into my collection. Sure, you’ll see it in used bins everywhere, but pull it outta the sleeve and inspect it. Even if you see it on the $1 shelves, don’t buy it if its all scratched up – you’ll be pissed when it itches its way around the platter.
The copy I landed was found at Half Price Books in Naperville, IL. I gave it a thorough once over before dropping a cool $5.99 on this beast, making sure there wasn’t a nick on it and the vinyl shone deep black. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll spin smooth. Not long ago I picked up what looked like a pristine Springsteen Tunnel of Love only to have it sound like it was covered in sand paper.
But, for the most part a good rule of thumb is that good looks are typically key to a swell ride. In the case of my recently acquired Fly Like An Eagle, this one soars.
© 2016 Chris Barry