Steve Miller Band - Ultimate Hits (5 Star)

by Kevin Wierzbicki

"Somebody get me a cheeseburger!" If you are a longtime Steve Miller Band fan you know that that line comes from pre-superstardom favorite "Living in the USA" where the request for fast food seems like a random comment at the end of the song. On the previously-unreleased live version of the song presented here on this 2-CD career retrospective, Miller again utters the phrase at the end of the song and no doubt many in the crowd echoed the sentiment simultaneously. Miller's earlier days are well represented with many staples of the early FM radio era included, and while fans may be familiar with cuts like "Kow Kow Calculator," "Seasons," and "Space Cowboy," Ultimate Hits presents the first opportunity to hear these in live, previously-unreleased versions. Especially notable is another live, previously-unreleased cut, a take on "Baby's Callin' Me Home," here done in a version that is slinkier and far jazzier than the familiar arrangement. And speaking of early days, there are a couple of spoken word pieces included at the head of the compilation; one where Miller as a toddler is being encouraged by his godfather Les Paul to keep singing, telling Steve "You'll go far" (If he only knew!) and another amusing piece where Miller explains to a concert audience how he started his first band at the tender age of 12, by which time he had already made acquaintance with school chum Boz Scaggs, a longtime Miller band member and cohort. Of course all the songs representing Miller's amazing run of hit singles are included; to name but a few: "Jet Airliner," "Fly Like an Eagle," "Rock 'N Me," "Take the Money and Run," "Jungle Love," "Swingtown" and "Abracadabra." Also included with tasty favorites like "Wild Mountain Honey" are more unreleased cuts including a demo of "Take the Money and Run" and an interpretation of the Wilson Pickett/Steve Cropper R&B chestnut "In the Midnight Hour." 40 cuts in all, Ultimate Hits really lives up to its title while also bringing fans a nice selection of rarities. Vinyl fans can purchase this one on wax in a 2-LP version or in a deluxe 4-LP version. Get your copy here.

Steve Miller Band - Ultimate Hits (5 Star)

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