Thursday, June 30, 2016


“The Joker Live”
Steve Miller Band
Sailor Records
Music Grade: A
180 Gram Pressing Grade: A

Rather than a note-for-note tribute to a classic album from his past, Steve Miller consistently looks for inventive ways to make something old new again on this solid live outing. Re-heated versions of beloved old albums often disappoint. But this live edition of Miller’s 1973 commercial breakthrough LP “The Joker” finds Steve in stellar form, leaning strongly on the blues roots that underpinned his early years as a recording artist.

The LP begins with a brief 5-second homage to vinyl’s past. You’ll hear intentional crackles and pops when you first drop the needle, but then you are quickly ushered into a magical world of full, robust sound not easily found in concert recordings. (It's almost a "Wizard of Oz" kind of moment, when the film shifted from black and white to glorious color.)

Miller’s vocals and guitar work are inspired throughout, especially on the pain-drenched “Evil,” a tightly wound blues package that leaves one wanting more. The enthusiasm Miller and band bring to their decades-old material left me liking many of the updates better than the originals. 

“Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma” is an exhilarating romp, while “Sugar Babe,” a sleeper cut on the 1973 album, is recast with a captivating wall of guitar sound found in most of Miller’s radio friendly hits after “The Joker” put him on the map.

This is a flawless 180-gram pressing that will pleasantly surprise those weary of the endlessly repeated Miller hits on classic rock radio. It’s available now on vinyl “exclusively” from Barnes and Noble, but will be available in wider release everywhere in September, 2016. But, why wait?


Steve Miller's "The Joker" From 1973 Was Named One of the 100 Greatest Album Covers by Rolling Stone

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