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Rock - Released September 15, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Ultimate Hits may be something of a misnomer for the title of this 2017 compilation. In either its single CD or double-disc incarnation, Ultimate Hits contains the biggest songs from the Steve Miller Band, but they're surrounded by cuts that can't be classified as hits or even singles. This is especially true of the flagship double-disc, which opens up with an old recording of Steve Miller meeting Les Paul as a child -- a snippet that first surfaced on 1994's triple-disc box set Steve Miller Band -- followed by a live cut where Miller recounts the story for the crowd. Such sequencing suggests that Miller is more concerned with telling a narrative than presenting the nonstop party that the title Ultimate Hits suggests, and the first disc proves that to be true, offering an early airing of "The Joker" as a concession before unleashing a lot of latter-day live performances, including the only airing of the classic "Living in the U.S.A." Hits start to roll out toward the end of the first disc and carry through until halfway through the second, when the record shifts into second gear to close out the set. Several singles are absent -- "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash," "Macho City," "Wide River," "Ya Ya," "Circle of Love," "Cool Magic" among them -- which underscores that this Ultimate Hits is more of a career overview than a clearinghouse of familiar tunes. Listeners looking for just the hits should turn to 2003's Young Hearts: Complete Greatest Hits -- and, if they're all right with missing "Abracadabra," the 1978 LP Greatest Hits 1974-78 is the perfect distillation of Miller's prime -- because even in its single-disc incarnation, Ultimate Hits is too idiosyncratic for a casual fan. Instead, it's for the listener who is a serious Steve Miller Band fan but doesn't want to dig into the albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Capitol Records, LLC

The Joker is, without question, the turning point in Steve Miller's career, the album where he infused his blues with a big, bright dose of pop and got exactly what he deserved: Top Ten hits and stardom. He also lost a lot of fans, the ones who dug his winding improvs, because those spacy jams were driven by chops and revealed new worlds. The Joker isn't mind-expanding, it's party music, filled with good vibes, never laying a heavy trip, always keeping things light, relaxed and easygoing. Sometimes, the vibes are interrupted, but not in a harsh way -- the second side slows a bit, largely due to the sludgy "Come in My Kitchen" and "Evil," the two songs that were recorded live but lacking any kinetic energy -- but for the most part, this is all bright and fun, occasionally truly silly, as on "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma." This silliness, of course, alienated old fans all the more, but that sense of fun is both the most appealing thing about The Joker and it set a touchstone for the rest of his career. Here, it's best heard on the terrific opener "Sugar Babe" and, of course, the timeless title track, which is sunny and ridiculous in equal measure. If nothing else is quite up to that standard in terms of songs -- certainly, it's not as jammed-pack as its successor, Fly Like an Eagle -- The Joker nevertheless maintains its good-time vibe so well that it's hard not to smile along...provided you're on the same wavelength as Miller, of course. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released May 1, 1977 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released June 15, 1982 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released January 1, 1977 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Rock - Released September 15, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

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Rock - Released March 15, 2019 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released November 1, 1984 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released March 15, 2019 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released June 1, 1968 | CAPITOL

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A psychedelic blues rock-out, 1968's Children of the Future marked Steve Miller's earliest attempt at the ascent that brought him supersonic superstardom. Recorded at Olympic Studios in London with storied producer Glyn Johns at the helm, the set played out as pure West Coast rock inflected with decade-of-love psychedelia but intriguingly cloaked in the misty pathos of the U.K. blues ethic. Though bandmate Boz Scaggs contributed a few songs, the bulk of the material was written by Miller while working as a janitor at a music studio in Texas earlier in the year. The best of his efforts resonate in a side one free-for-all that launches with the keys and swirls of the title track and segues smoothly through "Pushed Me Through It" and "In My First Mind," bound for the epic, hazy, lazy, organ-inflected "The Beauty of Time Is That It's Snowing," which ebbs and flows in ways that are continually surprising. The second half of the LP is cast in a different light -- a clutch of songs that groove together but don't have the same sleepy flow. Though it has since attained classic status -- Miller himself was still performing it eight years later -- Scaggs' "Baby's Callin' Me Home" is a sparse, lightly instrumentalized piece of good old '60s San Francisco pop. His "Steppin' Stone," on the other hand, is a raucous, heavy-handed blues freakout with a low-riding bass and guitar breaks that angle out in all directions. And whether the title capitalized at all on the Monkees' similarly titled song, released a year earlier, is anybody's guess. Children of the Future was a brilliant debut. And while it is certainly a product of its era, it's still a vibrant reminder of just how the blues co-opted the mainstream to magnificent success. ~ Amy Hanson
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Rock - Released May 26, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released January 1, 1978 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

Save for the few hits that cropped up in the first half of the '80s, Steve Miller's prime covers the years 1974-'78. With blockbuster albums like Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams, Miller dominated the FM airwaves in the mid-'70s and became a fixture of that decade's mammoth outdoor festival circuit. While not quite on par with earlier hits like "Jet Airliner," "The Joker," and "Rock 'n Me," early-'80s singles like "Abracadabra," "Keeps Me Wondering Why," and "Heart Like a Wheel" managed to keep the "Space Cowboy" magic going. This 20-track hits collection includes all these sides plus other smashes like "Jungle Love," "Fly Like an Eagle," "Swingtown," and "Wild Mountain Honey." Supplanting the earlier Greatest Hits 1974-'78 release, this expanded and updated hits package qualifies as the essential first-disc choice for newcomers. And save for a few duds like the pop reggae "Give It Up" and 1993's "Wide River" and "Cry, Cry, Cry," the album is solid from start to finish. ~ Stephen Cook
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Rock - Released March 22, 2019 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released September 15, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Rock - Released May 26, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Rock - Released June 9, 2017 | Steve Miller - Owned

Steve Miller returns to the bluesy pop/rock sound that made his career so successful with Wide River, a pleasant collection of new songs that will appeal greatly to fans of "The Joker," "Take the Money and Run," and "Rock n' Me." ~ Rovi Staff