Steve Miller has become an easy target for haters of classic rock of late, probably because of his controversial remarks at his Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction, where he behaved poorly. Now you see his name come up in complaints about over-played and over-fed, boring old '70's rock stars. However Miller does have a rather remarkable catalog dating back to the San Francisco '60's, and knows a whole lot about making great-sounding records and studio technology. Let's not forget (he doesn't let us) that Les Paul was his godfather.
It's no surprise then that Miller has a big vault of out-takes, demos, live cuts and alternate versions from his whole career, and this collection opens the doors wide. There's a 3-CD plus DVD box set for you big fans, and this single disc set whittles it down to some 13 highlights. What I like about this stuff is that it's full of surprises. Alternate versions on many such collections are often so similar to the original, you're scratching your head to hear what's different. But listening to the alternates of "Rock 'N Me," "Fly Like An Eagle" and "Jet Airliner," you hear completely different ideas, overdubs, guitar lines, all while Miller fools around, trying to find the best version of a good idea.
The live tracks are fun as well, not just the usual concert offerings. Instead he picks more surprises, including a jazz/blues version of "Take The Money And Run" with a horn section and new tempo, and from 1990, a guitar duet with Les Paul when Miller joined him at one of his weekly club dates. He might not be the most beloved guy right now, but if you're one of the 20 million or so people who bought a copy of Fly Like An Eagle or Book Of Dreams, you should find some enjoyment in this.