Fly Like an Eagle [30th Anniversary Edition] [CD/DVD]

by: Steve Miller Band

Steve Miller had started to essay his classic sound with The Joker, but 1976's Fly Like an Eagle is where he took flight, creating his definitive slice of space blues. The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits. It still can sound fairly dated -- those whooshing keyboards and cavernous echoes are certainly of their time -- but its essence hasn't aged, as "Fly Like an Eagle" drifts like a cool breeze, while "Take the Money and Run" and "Rock 'n Me" are fiendishly hooky, friendly rockers. The rest of the album may not be quite up to those standards, but there aren't any duds, either, as "Wild Mountain Honey" and "Mercury Blues" give this a comfortable backdrop, thanks to Miller's offhand, lazy charm. Though it may not quite transcend its time, it certainly is an album rock landmark of the mid-'70s and its best moments (namely, the aforementioned singles) are classics of the idiom. [Capitol released a 30th anniversary edition of Fly Like an Eagle in the summer of 2006 containing a remastered expanded CD and a bonus DVD containing the album in 5.1 sound, a documentary of the making of the album, and a live performance from the Shoreline Ampitheatre on September 17, 2005. The CD has three bonus tracks: original demos of "Fly Like an Eagle," "Take the Money and Run," and a slow, lazy "Rock 'N Me," all interesting early incarnations of familiar tunes containing the core of the finished version, but quite different in feel. Built around a relaxed recent interview session with Miller at home in his workshop, the documentary is quite good, telling hardcore fans all the stories they'd like to know about the making of the album, from Miller's status with Capitol at the time to how the songs took shape; it's quite fun to see him play the demos via his iPod. And while it's hard not to wish that the live concert presented on this set featured the 1976 incarnation of the Steve Miller Band, the 2005 show presented here is clean, professional, and entertaining, a nice way to round off a good anniversary edition.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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