Fly Like an Eagle or Book of Dreams?

Steve Miller enjoyed back to back platinum years in 1976 and 1977.  To be accurate, this was the Steve Miller Band. They had already served up a big album, The Joker, in 1973, platinum in fact, and it reached number two on Billboard.  The title song was a number one hit.  Guess what?  He would produce two even stronger albums, back to back.

Three years later, Fly Like an Eagle was released.  It would be one notch below The Joker on the chart, but would sell more than four million copies.

His Greatest Hits 1974-1978 were essentially these two albums. Imagine that.4192757318_2aa1127a86_b

Fly Like an Eagle was solid, from beginning to end. The Joker was very good, but it was uneven. I wouldn’t say filler, but it wasn’t all platinum, or gold. You did get an easy going vibe, pleasant and some fine playing. Fly Like an Eagle is Fleetwood Mac, Eagles and Doobie Brothers sales territory. The major leagues.

Produced by Steve Miller

 

Title Writer(s) Length

“Space Intro” Steve Miller 1:15  A great synthesizer intro.

“Fly Like An Eagle” Miller 4:42  A seriously bluesy beat, with organ and guitar.  Definitely a classic.

“Wild Mountain Honey” Steve McCarty 4:51  A shimmering song with guitars and synthesizer.  Miller harmonizes with himself.

“Serenade” Miller, Chris McCarty 3:13  A pounding, ringing guitar song.

“Dance Dance Dance” Miller, Joseph Cooper, Brenda Cooper 2:18  A country-rock, fast-moving guitar song.

“Mercury Blues” K.C. Douglas, Bob Geddins 3:30  A return to the blues.

“Take the Money and Run” Miller 2:50  A popular single, guitars everywhere, in this story song.

This here’s a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin’ better to do

“Rock’n Me” Miller 3:05  A rocking beat, this song wears out the bass and guitar as it moves along.

“You Send Me” Sam Cooke 2:42  Totally Millerized for this album, nice finger-picking guitar work, and fine vocal work.  Not sure why he chose to include this, but a decent version.

“Blue Odyssey” Miller 1:00  Time for another synth interlude.

“Sweet Maree” Miller 4:16  A Cajun flavored blues song.

“The Window” Miller, Joseph Cooper 4:19  A slow, bluesy song, the kind Miller does really well.  He adds enough melodic touches to win pop audiences over with the blues.

Steve Miller is a very good guitar player who doesn’t solo much. His strength is punchy rhythm grooves that create these offbeat song styles. The Doobie Brothers had these similar rhythm guitar chords that powered their songs. It wasn’t about the solo, it was the rhythm textures that gave the songs such an interesting and unusual time signature. Steve Miller wasn’t obvious about his own playing, in fact, he used a variety of guitar players.

 

Book of Dreams reached number two on Billboard and sold three million copies. It followed closely after Fly Like an Eagle, in part because most of the songs were leftover from the previous album.  “Leftovers” is a bad term, it implies they weren’t good enough.  They were holdovers, not used on the previous album.

Produced by Steve Miller

 

Title            Writer(s)         Length

“Threshold” Steve Miller   1:05  One of Miller’s spacey synthesizer creations.

“Jet Airliner” Paul Pena   4:25  The album starts with a classic, an upbeat guitar pounding piece of pop/rock. Good time music.  Reached number eight on the chart.  It was reworked a bit from the Pena original with some tasty guitar licks.

“Winter Time” Miller   3:10  More spacey synthesizer to start the song, a bit like Styx (“Crystal Ball”).  A nice piece of focal work over a haunting guitar.

“Swingtown” Miller, Chris McCarty   3:54  Kicking it up a couple of notches, a pulsating guitar beat moves this song along.  A nice groove single, good times, it reached number 17.

“True Fine Love” Miller   3:10  An old time rock song, it would have fit well on one of his earlier albums.

“Wish Upon a Star” Miller   3:39  Heavy echo over a slow, synthetic bass line.

“Jungle Love” Lonnie Turner, Greg Douglass   3:10  Another guitar powered piece of pop/rock.  Great guitar work.  A single, reached number 23.

“Electro Lux Imbroglio” Miller  0:55  Time for another synthesizer interlude.  Okay, but not as good as the others.

“Sacrifice” Curley Cooke, Les Dudek  5:17  A relaxed song with great ringing guitar tones. A nice change of pace.

“The Stake” David Denny  3:56  If you think this sounds a bit like the chugging guitar pulse of James Gang, I agree.  A strong beat and guitars that follow the rhythm, it’s a bluesy-rock song.

“My Own Space” Jason Cooper, Bobby Winkelman  3:00  More ringing James Gang type guitar work, but Steve Miller isn’t copying, just sounds familiar to the style.

“Babes in the Wood”  Miller  2:40  Foot-stomping acoustic guitar song, with a synthesized flute type melody, Jethro Tull?

Both of these albums are similar, but Fly Like an Eagle is a bit earthier and sounds closer in style to The Joker. Book of Dreams has a slicker finish, even the bluesy songs. If these were the holdovers, he saved some good ones.

Put the two albums together, toss out a couple of the weaker ones and you have an entire CD of great rocking songs. No joke-er.


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