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





June Tunes, Pt. 1

Confession:  Sometimes I’m lazy.  Really…freaking…lazy.  Lasting momentum eludes me, and this month has encapsulated that struggle.  The alloted two weeks of spring here in north Texas have given way to the annual blast furnace which extends into October.  I started out fairly active for what is a rather quiet month on the 50th album anniversary front, but today is the first time in a couple of weeks I’ve signed in to the blogosphere.  Time to accept what is with the weather and get back to writing, as I’m now feeling spurred on by some random kind words of encouragement from someone I don’t know, but whose work I admire.

Despite my recent inactivity, I did read a couple of books over the past few weeks that I recommend:

JFK and the Unspeakable:  Why He Died and Why it Matters, by James Douglass (2008)


The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider’s Diary of the Beatles, Their Million-dollar Apple Empire and Its Wild Rise and Fall, by Richard DiLello (1972)


The latter is a fun and quick read.  While the Beatles loom throughout, the book is really about the people who worked in and visited (crashed, more like) the madhouse that was Apple Corps.  It’s more than a minor miracle that the Apple experiment lasted three years.  This is not your typical Beatles bio.  As for the former, while I’m not a “conspiracy enthusiast,” to anyone left still inclined to believe Oswald was the lone gunman I recommend checking this out from your local library.

Now on to some June 1968 releases.  On one hand, it kind of feels like I’m mailing it in with another month-end roundup of leftovers, but as I mentioned earlier this isn’t a big month for 50th anniversaries.  Watch the following be among somebody’s all-time favorites…

Steve Miller Band – Children of the Future

This was the debut album of the Steve Miller Band, produced by Glyn Johns.  About half the songs on it were written by Miller, the others by the likes of Big Bill Broonzy and then-bandmate Boz Scaggs.  An album later and we’re into those early Miller tunes I really dig.


Jose Feliciano – Feliciano!

Admit it, you like this album.  Honestly, it had slipped from my memory.  I don’t own it, nor do I hear his version of Light My Fire anymore on any radio station I listen to.  But I like it.  This all acoustic, all covers album is Feliciano’s most successful release, reaching #2 on Billboard’s Top LP Chart, #3 on the R&B charts, and #3 on the Jazz charts.  Besides the Doors, he covers the Mamas and the Papas, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Beatles, and others.


I’ll have more tomorrow.  Cheers for now, and thanks for reading!