Sound: Before listening to this album, I hadn't heard much of The Steve Miller Band's work. I'd only heard the obvious singles, like Rock N' Me and Abracadabra. I wasn't sure what to expect. Miller and his band show great musicianship and ability throughout the album, from the first track. The rhythm section is relentlessly tight, followed by perfect rhythm guitars all through. There is great contribution from the other various percussion and keyboard players, as well as the appearance of harmonica.
The lead guitar work through the album is greatly impressive. It is technically outstanding and really shows what The SMB is all about. Miller's bluesy riffs and spine-tingling solos really catch you on first hearing. The album even showcases harmony lead guitar lines on various tracks (Rock Me Baby, Come On (Let the Good Times Roll), Tramp). It really lifts the songs to something more than some of their respective original versions, to hear Miller re-work their music in this way.
There is little that lets the music of this album down for me. I think that the 3 chord 12 bar blues thing gets tedious after a while, but that's the style and it's to be expected if you buy a blues album, isn't it? The most impressive/enjoyable thing for me is the solo/mid section in All Your Love, where the band goes from a slow, soul-blues song into a hard-rocking solo section. It's just marvellous. // 7
Lyrics: The lyrics themselves are mostly very simple, due to the majority of the songs being quite old; don't expect sophistication! Songs like Don't Cha Know and Hey Yeah contain repetitive lyrics that are just plain annoying after one listen. On the other hand, the album had songs like All Your Love (I Miss Loving) where the lyrics really compliment the music. It's just a shame that Miller hasn't chosen better songs on this album that show much better writing styles.
In terms of Miller's vocal abilities, he's got a great way of projecting his vocals through most of the album. His melodies and harmonies are near-flawless, with the exception of once or twice, here and there. His raw blues voice fit most of the songs perfectly. Again, Hey Yeah really lets the record down in terms of vocals; it really doesn't compliment Miller at all. The rest of the songs (Sweet Soul Vibe, Rock Me Baby, for example) really showcase what the band can do when it comes to the Vox. // 6
Overall Impression: As I've said in both previous sections, the album opens on what feels like the weakest song on the entire album, and it sets a bad example for the entire album. Hey Yeah contains possibly the most uninspired lyrics and some of the more boring playing. But don't let this put you off. Miller and his band show their true colours through the rest of the album. With some great vocals, moderately good cover songs and great playing, the album is nice to have in your collection. I do think, however, that it's an album for fans. Anyone else and it wouldn't really be a must-have for the CD collection. // 5
- Anthony Bentley (c) 2010