Steve Miller
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Children Of Future (1968), 7/10
Sailor (1968), 7/10
Your Saving Grace (1969), 5/10
Brave New World (1969), 6/10
Number Five (1970), 4/10
Rock Love (1971), 4/10
Recall The Beginners (1972), 6.5/10
The Joker (1973), 6/10
Fly Like An Eagle (1976), 6/10
Book Of Dreams (1977), 6/10
Circle Of Love (1981), 5/10
Abracadabra (1982), 4/10
Italian X Rays (1984), 4/10
Living In The 20th Century (1987), 4/10
Born 2B Blue (1988), 4/10
Wide River (1993), 4/10
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(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

Steve Miller was part of the great hippie season of San Francisco, but in reality he was a blues man who played elegant and refined blues-rock. When the acid-rock fashion died, Miller revealed his true mission: writing muzak that was both atmospheric and relaxing.

Raised in Texas, leader of a blues band in Chicago with Barry Goldberg, Miller arrived in San Francisco in 1966 and formed the Steve Miller Band. At his side was singer, rhythm guitarist and childhood friend Boz Scaggs.

The sound of Children Of the Future (Capitol, 1968) is by all means hallucinogenic, but without sacrificing the structure of the song, and best of all, preserving all the aggressive boogie riffs of a well disciplined blues band. The album is stylistically divided in two sides. Side One is relatively traditional, the domain of the impeccable Scaggs, with blues cuts perturbed by solos a la Hendrix, ecstatic choruses and acid keyboard, as in Roll With It and Baby's Callin' Me Home. Side Two is experimental, as the times demanded, a multi-part suite for ecstatic voices, Jim Peterman's church organ and wild guitar. Fantastic melodies are enriched by cosmic overtones, with a spirited country flavor in Children Of The Future. Instrumentals, psychedelic and celestial, are placed in the middle of an epic and symphonic "Pink-Floydian" blues in the seven minute In My First Mind. Short intervals of turbulence and dissonance punctuate The Beauty Of Time, with its mantra-chorus grand finale.

Frequent use of electronic effects weakens the guitars' voice on Sailor (Capitol, 1968), albeit conferring to the music a wilder character. The opening song Song For Our Ancestors features a sustained organ in crescendo, mimicking the rhythm of an air raid siren. Living In The USA and Overdrive are catchy blues rock songs; Dime-a-dance Romance is Scaggs' best ballad.

Your Saving Grace (Capitol, 1969) and Good New World (Capitol, 1969) are complementary albums. The first is a collection of soft rhythm and blues ballads like Your Saving Grace, Baby' s House, Feel So Glad. The second is a dynamic red-hot album, with a series of insistent blues rockers like Space Cowboy, My Dark Hour and Brave New World. After Scaggs and Peterman's departure the sound became progressively more manneristic and less bluesy.

Number Five (Capitol, 1970) is a roots-rock album, in a year when many were turning to country. More than anything, it is a pretext to span many stylistic fronts, from Going To Mexico, to Going To The Country, to Midnight Tango, always with grace and gentleness.

In 1973 Miller reorganized and aimed at a more polished studio sound, with wasted horns and calculated keyboards. Starting with The Joker (1973) the move yielded excellent commercial success in soft rock, with Rockin' Me (1976), Fly Like An Eagle (1977), Jet Airliner (1977), and Abracadabra (1982), as well as in the disco suite Macho City (1982), a festival of velvety electronics.

Steve Miller fece parte della grande stagione hippy di San Francisco, ma era in realta` un bluesman che suonava blues-rock, per quanto elegante e raffinato. Quando la moda dell'acid-rock fini`, Miller svelo` la sua vera missione, che era quella di scrivere muzak atmosferica e rilassante.

Cresciuto in Texas e poi titolare di un complesso con Barry Goldberg a Chicago, arrivo` a San Francisco nel 1966 e formo` la Steve Miller Band. Al suo fianco c'era il cantante e chitarrista ritmico Boz Scaggs, suo amico d'infanzia. Il sound di Children Of Future (Capitol, 1968) era si` allucinogeno ma senza sacrificare troppo alla struttura della canzone e soprattutto conservando i riff aggressivi del boogie. L'album era diviso nettamente in due facciate. La prima era relativamente tradizionale, dominio dell'impeccabile Scaggs, con canzoni blues perturbate da assoli Hendrix-iani, da cori estatici e da tastiere acide (Roll With It, Baby's Callin' Me Home). L'altra facciata era invece sperimentale come si conveniva all'epoca, una suite in piu` parti per voci estatiche, tastiere chiesistiche (Jim Peterman) e chitarra invasata, una fantasia melodica sovraccarica di toni cosmici, con briosi aromi campestri (Children Of The Future), con aperture strumentali allucinate e celestiali nel mezzo di epici e sinfonici blues "pinkfloydiani" (i sette marziali minuti di In My First Mind), con stacchetti fatti di turbolenze e dissonanze (The Beauty Of Time con coro finale di coro mantrico).

Frequenti ricorsi agli effetti elettronici tolsero su Sailor (Capitol, 1968) forza e respiro alle chitarre, pur conferendo un carattere ancor piu` allucinato alla musica. L'iniziale Song For Our Ancestors e` una suspence organistica in crescendo a ritmo di sirena. Living In The USA e Overdrive sono i blues-rock piu` orecchiabili; Dime-a-dance Romance la ballad piu` riuscita di Scaggs.

Your Saving Grace (Capitol, 1969) e Brave New World (Capitol, 1969) furono album complementari. Il primo era dedicato a soffici rhythm and blues ballads come Your Saving Grace, Baby's House, Feel So Glad. Il secondo era invece un album dinamico e arroventato, con una serie di incalzanti blues-rock come Space Cowboy, My Dark Hour e Brave New World. Dopo l'abbandono di Scaggs e di Peterman il suono divenne ancor piu` manieristico, e sempre meno blues.

Number Five (Capitol, 1970) e` il suo album di roots-rock, in un anno in cui molti gruppi si davano al country. Piu` che altro, e` un pretesto per svariare su molti fronti stilistici (Going To Mexico, Going To The Country, Midnight Tango) ma sempre con garbo e delicatezza.

Nel 1973 Miller si riorganizzo` e punto` su un sound piu` salottiero, con spreco di fiati e tastiere. A partire da The Joker (1973) questa politica sorti` risultati commerciali eccellenti tanto sul versante del soft-rock (Rock And Me, 1976, Fly Like An Eagle, 1977, Jet Airliner, 1977, Abracadabra, 1982) quanto su quello della disco-music (la suite Macho City del 1981, sagra dell'elettronica vellutata).

The live/studio album Rock Love (Capitol, 1971) was largely disposable, but the brief, 35-minute album Recall The Beginners (Capitol, 1972) contained some of his best material, including Lover's Riddle, Fandango, and culminating with the closer, Journey from Eden.

The line-up kept changing and Miller went through serious health problems. When he was ready to return to the studio, the world had changed. Miller's solution was to adopt a more soulful sound and enhance his ballads with slick arrangements of strings and horns. The result was The Joker (Capitol, 1973), that yielded the hit single The Joker, besides Sugar Babe and Something To Believe In. Miller became a master of soft-rock.

Miller's state of grace was proven with Fly Like An Eagle (Capitol, 1976), that contained the hit singles Rock And Me, Fly Like An Eagle and Take The Money And Run, and Book Of Dreams (Capitol, 1977), that contained more hit singles (Jet Airliner, Jungle Love, Swingtown). Few artists were producing so many hits in just two years. But somehow those two prolific years drained Miller's inspiration. He moved to Oregon and seemed to retire from music.

Greatest Hits 1974/78 (Mercury, 1978) is the anthology of the classic period.

Miller staged a mediocre comeback with Circle Of Love (Capitol, 1981), an album that attempted to bridge his old patented muzak (Circle Of Love, Heart Like A Wheel) with the electronic funk of Giorgio Moroder's disco-music (the side-long suite Macho City).

Abracadabra (Capitol, 1982) included the hit Abracadabra and Italian X Rays (Capitol, 1984) tried to further simplify his commercial funk-soul style.

Living In The 20th Century (Capitol, 1987) marked a return to his blues roots and Born 2B Blue (Capitol, 1988) is a tribute to jazz. Wide River (Polydor, 1993) was the first serious commercial enterprise since 1984 and offered more faceless Steve Miller muzak.

Bingo (2011) is a cover album.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giovanni Radaelli)

L’album live/studio Rock Love (Capitol, 1971) era mediocre, ma Recall The Beginners fu forse il suo apice artistico, benche' ignorato ai tempi.

La band continuava a cambiare e Miller attraversò un periodo di gravi problemi di salute. Quando finalmente ritornò a lavorare, il mondo era cambiato. La soluzione intrapresa da Miller fu quella di adottare un sound più appassionato, e migliorare le sue ballate con abili arrangiamenti di archi e fiati. Come risultato di questi cambiamenti, uscì The Joker (Capitol, 1973), che ebbe nel singolo The Joker una hit, oltre a Sugar Babe e Something To Believe In. Miller era diventato un maestro del soft-rock.

Lo stato di grazia di Miller venne confermato da Fly Like An Eagle (Capitol, 1976) che conteneva i singoli di successo Rock And Me, Take The Money And Run; e Book Of Dreams (Capitol, 1977) che conteneva altri successi quali Jet Airliner, Jungle Love, Swingtown. Pochi artisti hanno prodotto così tante hit in due soli anni. Ma in qualche modo questi due anni prolifici oscurano l’ispirazione di Miller, che se ne andò in Oregon e sembrò ritirarsi dalla musica. Greatest Hits 1974/78 (Mercury, 1978) è un’antologia di questo periodo.

Miller realizzò un mediocre ritorno con Circle Of Love (Capitol, 1981), in cui tentò di coniugare la sua muzak (Circle Of Love, Heart Like A Wheel) con il funk elettronico della disco-music di Giorgio Moroder (la suite Macho City).

Abracadabra (Capitol, 1982) includeva la hit Abracadabra mentre in Italian X Rays (Capitol, 1984) Miller cercò di semplificare ancora di più il suo funk-soul commerciale.

Living In The 20th Century (Capitol, 1987) rappresentò un ritorno alle sue radici blues e Born 2B Blue (Capitol, 1988) è un tributo al jazz. Wide Rider (Polydor, 1993) fu la prima vera avventura commerciale dal 1984 e conteneva altre impersonali muzak.

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