Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Another Steve Miller Best Of

Steve Miller Band-Ultimate Hits (Capitol 2017)

Let's face it world.  The major labels are not promoting new music and all they ever did is rehash greatest hits after greatest hits packages from bands of the golden age of Classic Rock And Roll, a oxymoron on "Classic" Rock.

For many years I enjoyed the space cowboy although his albums have been uneven masterpieces.  Sometimes some great surprises (Brave New World) sometimes total garbage (Rock Love, Italian X Rays) and sometimes missteps that either do (The Joker) or don't work (Journey From Eden...Recall The Beginning).  I was never a big fan of The Joker album, but it kept Miller in the limelight.  But then Miller simplified it to three chord recycle utopia and struck gold with Fly Like An Eagle and to a lesser extent Book Of Dreams.  Hell, anybody can play Rock N Me or Jet Airliner and the earworms of the hits plus Take The Money And Run have made the mentioned songs corporate rock radio staples.  But Miller would take another 3 years off and gave us the half assed Circle Of Dreams (the 19 minute Macho City as worthless as Revelation by Love) and the more power pop directed Abracadabra, which might have been more of a band effort since that band backed up Gerard McMahnon on his neglected 1981 album Blue Rue.  Miller never made another album that would be that listenable, Italian X Rays was techno crap, Living In The 20th Century turned out to be a half album tribute to Jimmy Reed, despite Kenny G playing on I Want To Make The World Turn Around. Born 2B Blue, was Miller's jazz/blues escapism and Wide River was one last attempt to recreate the sound that he found on Fly Like An Eagle, with so so results.  A couple more attempts to recreate the blues later in the 2000's and Miller has relied on his live performance hits when he tours.

The best way to hear Miller's highs and lows have been greatest hits packages. Anthology, was the more flawed but idea place to hear the early stuff (although he couldn't spared us with the 8 minute snoozer Baby's House) and of course the half Fly Like A Eagle, half Book Of Dreams plus The Joker on the Greatest Hits 1973-1978.  Anthology, while it remains in print, was regulated to the donate bin by The Best Of 1968-1973 to which most of the early stuff got issued along with the more tolerable stuff from The Joker.  And Baby's House was left on the cutting room floor.  Capitol did attempt a couple more attempts to balance both the early period and the hits era with 2 albums of note: Young Hearts and a revamped Greatest Hits, the former striking a delicate balance between the pre and post Eagle era but the Greatest Hits tacking on Keeps Me Wondering Why for shock value. Still, countless best ofs and they can't seem to add anything from Children Of The Future, mainly that the best song Baby's Calling Me Home was written by Boz Scaggs.

So here we go again.  Yet another compilation of the usual songs and pointless filler known as Ultimate Hits.  Yet in both a single or double CD set and like the rest, if you have the original best ofs or albums, you don't need this in your collection, unless you want to hear live versions of Loving Cup or Space Cowboy. The only surprise is Baby's Calling Me Home  Outside of that, Miller ignores Children Of The Future and Sailor as well as Rock Love and gives us a crap cut from Italian X Rays. Don't get me wrong, Steve Miller has been a good guitar player with an eye on simple but catchy riffs. But forty years on and we still get that upgrade to a better overview.  And to leave off Your Saving Grace is sacrilegious since that song got played in the years of FM radio before Corporations bought everybody out.  That's the problem with Ultimate Hits, it doesn't shows the contributions of Boz Scaggs nor Tim Davis in the early years but rather focuses more on throwaway tracks from the classic albums. (Winter Time, The Window).  To which you're better off saving your money or simply find cheaper copies of the earlier best ofs and leave it at that.  Another major label crashgrab that doesn't change anything from what you haven't heard before.

Grade C