Thursday, 24 February 2011

"Fly Like An Eagle" by THE STEVE MILLER BAND (2011 Edsel Records 2 Disc Set CD + DVD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



STEVE MILLER is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

                       http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00LQKMC6I

"…I Want To Fly Like An Eagle…Let My Spirit Carry Me…"

Capitol Records USA released a 30th Anniversary Edition of Steve Miller's 9th studio album “Fly Like An Eagle” as a 2-disc set (CD + DVD) in 2006. UK released in October 2010 - Edsel EDSX 3010 (Barcode 740155301033) is a British mid-priced reissue of that American CD and DVD (remastered) version and breaks down as follows (51:18 minutes):

1. Space Intro
2. Fly Like An Eagle
3. Wild Mountain Honey
4. Serenade
5. Dance, Dance, Dance
6. Mercury Blues
7. Take The Money And Run [Side 2]
8. Rock ’n’ Me
9. You Send Me
10. Blue Odyssey
11. Sweet Marie
12. The Window
Tracks 1 to 12 are the LP "Fly Like An Eagle" - released May 1976 in the USA on Capitol Records ST-11497 and in the UK on Mercury 9286 177 (it peaked at number 3 on the US charts and at number 11 in the UK)

BONUS TRACKS (Previously Unreleased):
13. Fly Like An Eagle '73 [Demo]
14. Take The Joker And Run [Acoustic Demo Version]
15. Rockin' Me '76 Slow [Demo]

Seven of the album's twelve-tracks were issued across 4 x 7" singles in both the USA and the UK – this CD will allow fans to sequence them all as follows:

1. "Take The Money And Run" b/w "Sweet Maree"
May 1976 USA 7" on Capitol 4260 – May 1976 UK 7" on Mercury 6078 800

2. "Rock 'n Me" b/w “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” and "Living In The U.S.A."
August 1976 USA 7" on Capitol 4323 – October 1976 UK 7" on Mercury 6078 804
[Note: the 1st US B-side was “Shu Ba Da Du…” an old track from 1973’s “The Joker”; it was then reissued with “Living In The U.S.A.” as it’s B-side, a track from 1969’s “Sailor”. The British B-side is “The Window” - a track off the “Fly Like An Eagle” album]

3. "Fly Like An Eagle" b/w "Mercury Blues"
December 1976 USA 7" on Capitol 4372 – August 1976 UK 7" on Mercury 6078 802
[Note: the US B-side is a track off the “Fly Like An Eagle” album, but the British B-side is an old track called “Lovin’ Cup” from 1973’s “The Joker”]

4. “Serenade” b/w “Dance, Dance, Dance”
January 1977 UK 7” single on Mercury 6078 808 [No US 7” equivalent]

The original US and UK vinyl album cover was a very plain affair (no insert or inner sleeve) and had barely readable credits on the rear – so it’s nice to finally see the artwork given a long overdue upgrade. This new UK reissue comes in a very fetching 3-way foldout card digipak featuring expanded artwork on both the front and rear – all of it in the same colour scheme as the original vinyl album. Inside the tri-gatefold – the three-piece band is pictured - Steve Miller on Vocals, Guitar, Sitar and Roland Keyboards, Lonnie Turner on Bass with Gary Mallaber on Drums And Percussion. The audio CD, DVD and areas beneath the see-through plastic trays all feature live photos of Miller from the 2005 concert while the new 20-page booklet has comprehensive liner notes by JOEL SELVIN of the San Francisco Chronicle. They’ve reproduced the Capitol Records 3-page Promo Blurb of May 1976 with the Lyrics provided for the first time too. The packaging is very tasty indeed. But the real fireworks lie in the sound…and the huge amount of goodies on the DVD.

Like "Book Of Dreams" (the album that followed “Fly...”) - I’ve had the 1998 Eagle reissue for years just to have the album on CD – but this new 2011 sonic upgrade is truly superlative. Remastered by BARRY GRINT at Alchemy in London, the sound quality is massively improved on every track – and not just trebled up to the nines for effect. This is not a loud CD for loudness sake – it has power and muscle and great presence. 

Right from the swirling synths of the album's instrumental opener "Space Intro" through to the opening guitar and bass of "Flying Like An Eagle" (lyrics above) – the remaster is light, clear and beautifully produced. There isn’t hiss - nor is there a feeling of over-compression – the instruments have air around them and sound 'live'. Chris McCarty’s "Wild Mountain Honey" sounds so sweet now and the drums of "Serenade" whack out of your speakers with an impressive tightness. The slinky "Mercury Blues" (written by Karl Douglass and Robert Geddins) has great guitar-work – so clear and full while the James Cotton harmonica on "Sweet Maree" is fantastic – warbling mean and moody in your living room. I’ve never really like "Dance, Dance, Dance" or the oddly-out-of-place cover of Sam Cooke’s "You Send Me", but Steve Miller/Jason Cooper original "The Window" is a great way to finish the record – and it sounds fab too.

Then comes something genuinely shocking – the 1973 demo of "Fly Like An Eagle" which is superbly produced and an entirely different take on the finished version we’re so used to. It’s just brilliant – taking the song in a more funky-rock direction. It has far more emphasis on the socially conscious lyrics – and it fades out with a long echoed-guitar finish that had me grinning from ear-to-ear. The "Acoustic" Demo of "Take The Money And Run" has an almost Doobie Brothers circa Tom Johnston feel – it’s excellent. As is the acoustically slowed down folky demo of "Rockin' Me" – with it’s spoken lyrics and in-studio giggling towards the end - it’s clearly a work in progress and yet it still feels fully formed.

The DVD features 3 items - a 2-hour 22-track live concert filmed 17 September 2005 at The Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View in California, a 2006 documentary called “Thirty Years Rock’n” conducted by Joel Selvin about the making of the album which includes an interview with Steve Miller - and finally a 5.1 Surround Sound Mix of the “Fly Like An Eagle” album. It has to be said that the definition of the picture wavers from clear to blurry on almost all the numbers (I don’t know why given it’s a modern-day shoot), but the band are super-tight and incredibly well rehearsed – so the songs are superbly delivered (enjoying themselves too) and the sound is great. Some have experienced problems with synching, but I found it ok. “I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love”, “Got Love If You Want It” and “Gangster Of Love” are considerably enhanced by the Blues Boogie presence of George Thorogood on Guitar and Vocals (great stuff), while “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” introduces the incredible versatility of Joe Satriani on Lead Guitar (he and Miller play off each other so well on a few Blues standards). It’s a shame the picture quality isn’t better, but the music is superb.

So there you have it – a great Seventies Radio-friendly Rock album given a properly cool makeover (with genuine bonus tracks), massively improved packaging, top sound quality, a bonus DVD jam-packed with good stuff (albeit a little creaky in places) - and all of it at less than seven shiny new English pounds.

A bit of a bargain frankly – and like a girl who wants to keep on Rock 'n’ me – it’s big time recommended...

The 2011 and 2012 STEVE MILLER BAND 'Special Edition'
CD Reissue Series from Edsel Records of the UK

1. Children Of The Future (April 1968) - released 17 September 2012 on Edsel EDSA 5003 - Barcode 0740155500337
2. Sailor (October 1968) – released 17 September 2012 on Edsel EDSA 5004 - Barcode 740155500733
3. Brave New World (June 1969) - released 17 September 2012 on Edsel EDSA 5005 - Barcode 740155500535
4. Your Saving Grace (November 1969) - released 17 September 2012 on Edsel EDSA 5006 - Barcode 740155500634
5. Number 5 (July 1970) – released 17 September 2012 on Edsel EDSA 5007 – Barcode 740155500733
6. Fly Like An Eagle (July 1976) – released 11 October 2010 on Edsel EDSX 3010 (with Bonus DVD) – Barcode 740155301033 – see REVIEW
7. Book Of Dreams (May 1977) - released 7 February 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1051 – Barcode 740155105136 – see REVIEW
8. Circle Of Love (October 1981) – released 7 February 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1052 – Barcode 740155105235
9. Abracadabra (June 1982) - released 7 March 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1053 – Barcode 740155105334
10. The Steve Miller Band Live! (April 1983) - released 4 April 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1056 – Barcode 740155105631
11. Italian X-Rays (November 1984) - released 7 March 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1054 – Barcode 740155105433
12. Wide River (July 1993) - released 7 March 2011 on Edsel EDSS 1055 – Barcode 740155105532

PS: Could someone please get to Remastering long-standing holes in the Steve Miller back catalogue - October 1971's "Rock Love", March 1972's "Recall The Beginning...A Journey From Eden" and especially October 1973's "The Joker" – that way fans and the curious would have access to a 'near' complete run in decent Audio...

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