self-titled – The Steve Miller Band
King Biscuits Flower Hour Records 79301 88001-2
Quite frankly, I am not a fan of live recordings, especially from concerts
that occurred close to thirty years ago. The equipment used to record
concerts in those days was less than sophisticated, often causing sound
quality to be fuzzy. It was therefore with great trepidation that I began to
listen to this offering from King Biscuit Flower Hour Records of two Steve
Miller Band concerts from 1973 and 1976.
Steve Miller is a great story for rock 'n' roll historians. He began playing
guitar professionally at a young age. He went to college in Wisconsin where
he formed a blues-rock band that included Boz Scaggs and Ben Sidran. After
living in Denmark and Chicago, he moved to San Francisco in 1966 and
immersed himself in the rock scene there. In 1967, he played at the Monterey
Pop Festival and soon signed a recording contract with Capitol Records. The
rest, as they say, is history: Miller was one of the most successful rock
artists in the 70's and 80's, churning out hit after hit. Yet, when you
think of rock superstars from that era, Steve Miller is usually not the
first name that comes to mind.
This is a two-disc set of live performances by the Steve Miller Band. Disc
one is a recording from Shady Grove in Washington, D.C. on November 24,
1973. Disc two is from a concert at the Beacon Theater in New York in 1976.
The November 1973 concert was very significant for Miller, since he spent
most of 1972 recovering from a painful hairline fracture of the vertebrae
(broken neck), as well as hepatitis. He recovered from both afflictions and
rededicated himself to his music.
The sound quality of both of these concerts in superb. On the 1973 concert,
you can sense a bit of apprehension on Miller's part, his confidence
building with every passing song. After all, he was returning to the road he
loved after a prolonged illness. On the 1976 concert, Miller flat-out rocks.
Of particular note is the harmonica work by Norton Buffalo on the 1976 disc.
The entire band is amazing, with incredible guitar playing by Miller. On
both discs, he brings his rock and blues experience to the table, giving the
listener an enjoyable look at a true rock icon.
I could not find bad cut on either disc. These are two of the most enjoyable
concert discs I have ever heard. The pictures and liner notes are also
excellent. Among the people whose praise of Steve Miller are included on the
liner notes are Les Paul (an early hero), Paul McCartney (who ghosted with
the Steve Miller Band) and Todd Park Mohr. I don't know why Steve Miller
Band is such a well-kept secret, but if it were up to me people would be
shouting this guy's praises from the rooftops.