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.


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.


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