October ’68 – The Steve Miller Band Sails On

The Steve Miller Band – Sailor

Are there albums you enjoy from start to finish, yet because they don’t necessarily contain much in the realm of the dynamic they’re not often on your radar?  For me, the Steve Miller Band’s Sailor, their second album of 1968 and second overall, is just that.  Released 50 years ago this month, this offering of West Coast psychedelic blues rock is a nice reminder after years of subjecting myself to the same handful of Miller’s 1970’s hits on classic rock radio to the point of switching stations whenever a song like Jungle Love comes on, that Miller, Boz Scaggs, and company were making very good records from day one.

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Sailor is a nice combination of blues and psychedelic rock which featured the first contributions from Miller’s Dallas prep school buddy Boz Scaggs.  Of its opening track Song for Our Ancestors, AllMusic critic Amy Hanson suggests that it sounds so much like Pink Floyd’s track Echoes, released three years later, that “one wonders how much (Pink Floyd) enjoyed Miller’s own wild ride.”  The beautiful Dear Mary sounds like a song Lenny Kravitz might have channeled years later, and the drums on Lucky Man are really cool in their heavy but not overly loud mix.  Glyn Johns was responsible for that, as well as the rest of the album’s production (as he was with the band’s first album earlier in the year).  Living in the U.S.A. and Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s Gangster of Love are the more famous tracks here, as well as Quicksilver Girl due to its inclusion in the 1983 movie The Big Chill.

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This is the kind of music that sounds like it’s being played by extremely gifted musicians and songwriters who are not overly concerned with stardom.  Like Mike Bloomfield before him, Steve Miller has a passion for the blues, and his fame was a by-product of his genuine love for what he was doing.  The Joker and Fly Like an Eagle may have been his meal ticket (just as Silk Degrees was for Boz Scaggs), but I don’t know that it got any better than the Steve Miller Band’s first four or five albums, all from 1970 or earlier.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Song for Our Ancestors
  2. Dear Mary
  3. My Friend
  4. Living in the U.S.A.

Side Two:

  1. Quicksilver Girl
  2. Lucky Man
  3. Gangster of Love
  4. You’re So Fine
  5. Overdrive
  6. Dime-a-Dance Romance

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor_(album)

https://www.allmusic.com/album/sailor-mw0000689837

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Miller_Band_discography

10 thoughts on “October ’68 – The Steve Miller Band Sails On”

  1. The Steve Miller Band songs I’ve liked best are the ones that didn’t get overplayed on the radio-like Living In The U.S.A. which is probably my favorite Steve Miller Band song. His albums did moderately well on the charts but no hit singles until The Joker- and no big hit album until The Joker-sadly his earlier career is overlooked at least on the radio. It’s like The Joker was his debut album.

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  2. In “my music world,” Steve Miller is an artist I only know based on select songs, most of which became staples on classic rock radio like “The Joker”, “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Rock ‘N Me” – in other words, the usual suspects! I had also known “Living In The U.S.A.”

    Based on listening into some of the tunes, this album does sound intriguing. The comparison of the opener to “Echoes” is intriguing, though my gut is it’s more of a coincidence than anything else – at least, I’m not aware that the two bands were traveling in the same circles at the time.

    What’s kind of amazing to me is that the Steve Miller Band has been around for more than 50 years and that Miller is still touring vigorously – since mid-April, they’ve played more than 50 dates in Canada and the U.S.!And they’re not done yet, though the schedule is much lighter for the remainder of the year.

    Not too shabby for Miller who is turning 75 years tomorrow. I’m grateful for each and every “old rocker” who keeps on rocking!

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  3. I like this era of Steve Miller. Nothing wrong with his later albums besides us getting pelted over and over by the same songs on the radio. Great musicians in that group. There are some good stories about them in the Glyn Johns autobiography.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Didn’t Miller get to know the Beatles while recording his first album in London? McCartney, at least. I think that was the story behind Miller’s appearance on Flaming Pie. Is there anything in Johns’s book about that?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it was the “Brave New World” album but don’t quote me on that. Glyn took Steve to the Let It Be mixing sessions…Paul and him ended up doing a song together “My Dark Hour”… John and Ringo didn’t show up and George had to leave…
        A lot of good stories about the Steve Miller Band…

        Liked by 1 person

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