Steve Miller Band - The Joker

Steve Miller Band - The Joker
Authored By John Nicholson

I love all and every Steve Miller Band album and own all but the most recent. This love affair with his music began, like so many, with The Joker album in 1973. The title track was a #1 in USA and I used to listen to the USA chart run down on Radio Luxembourg every Wednesday. I discovered this in 1972 and it was obvious that the US charts were much better than UKs. You got actually rock music, for a start. I always remember hearing the edited version of Yes’s Roundabout which was a minor hit single in America for the first time on Luxembourg. 

So I’d tracked the Steve Miller Band’s The Joker as it crept up to the top of the Hot 100. It was such a quirky record and hinted at someone with an interesting backstory. I then bought a secondhand compilation of his early work and that threw me into his whole back catalogue

So The Joker and the album it came from holds a lot of good memories for me. That hit single isn’t the best thing on it either. Your Cash Ain’t Nothin But Trash is one of his typical Gangster of Love funky numbers. Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma dances around the same territory but with a wonderful guitar solo. There’s a great King Biscuit Hour live version of this recorded in 1973 and Miller just takes off on the solo, his overdrive pedal stops working momentarily, before it roars back into action as he plays fast n loose. It’s all very rock n roll and thrilling. 

The second side has two live tracks, the second of which Evil, is also a showcase for Steve’s bluesy lead guitar prowess.

The album got to #2 in the USA but amazingly didn’t register in the UK. Neither did the single util used in an ad campaign in 1990, which put it at #1 over here. 

This was to be his last record as a struggling musician. His previous record, the lovely Recall The Beginning : A Journey From Eden, the second side of which is some of his finest music, had stalled at #109, but the next, Fly Like An Eagle would sell over 4 million and reach #3, the follow up Book of Dreams would sell 3 million at get to #2

He’s still never had a chart topping album though, unless you count getting to #1 with The Joker on the Cash Box chart and if I was Steve, I would!

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