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by Justin Farrar

July 1, 2013

Vintage Steve Miller Band

by Justin Farrar  |  July 1, 2013

Vintage Steve Miller Band could do it all: bubblegum, electric blues, psychedelia, country rock, New Wave, jazz fusion, even hip-hop! What's more, just about everything they recorded during their golden period (1968 to '82) sounds absolutely killer. That's a big part of the music's appeal, in fact. (It also explains why it's been so heavily sampled over the years.) From the cosmic lushness of "Fly Like an Eagle" to the exquisitely muted acoustic guitars anchoring "The Joker," Stevie Miller crafted ear candy layered in delicious atmosphere; turn it up loud enough -- in the back of your custom van, say -- and it's sure to suck you into its hypnotic orbit. This is even true of his late '60s output, particularly with hippie nuggets like "Quicksilver Girl" and "Dear Mary" (the latter of which, hazy and melancholic, sounds as if it just might've inspired David Gilmour; Pink Floyd were, according to classic-rock legend, fans of early Steve Miller Band).

On top of all this, Miller could, at times, get really, truly weird. He loved experimenting with synthesizers; this enabled him to generate ambient oddities such as "Space Intro" (from the Fly Like An Eagle album) and Book of Dreams' "Electro Lux Imbroglio" (Star Wars meets Music for Airports -- no lie). Yet his pièce de résistance surely is "Macho City." Released in 1981, the, uh, 16-minute epic finds Stevie fusing hip-hop and electro to New Age-like recordings of thunderstorms -- astounding!

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