Steve Miller Band - Sailor

Steve Miller Band – Sailor

88 / 100

Prior to the mid 70’s where the Steve Miller Band scored radio hits left right and center, they were dabbling in psychedelic rock and blues, like on this 1968 album ‘Sailor’.

Written by: Eric

ARTIST: Steve Miller Band
ALBUM: Sailor
LABEL: Capitol
YEAR: 1968
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Steve Miller – guitar, lead vocals, harmonica * Boz Scaggs – guitar, lead and backing vocals * Lonnie Turner – bass, backing vocals * Jim Peterman – keyboards, lead and backing vocals * Tim Davis – drums, lead and backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Song For Our Ancestors * 02 Dear Mary * 03 My Friend * 04 Living In The U.S.A * 05 Quicksilver Girl * 06 Lucky Man * 07 Gangster Of Love * 08 You’re So Fine * 09 Overdrive * 10 Dime-A-Dance Romance



Those of you only familiar with the Steve Miller Band late 70’s stadium hits might find this album a bit of a shock to the system. ‘Sailor’ was released in 1968 and the San Francisco based outfit, like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were spearheading the sounds and vibes of the west coast counter-culture’s kaleidoscope heart. A popular draw among the Fillmore West crowd, the Steve Miller Band released an astounding 7 albums before scoring a hit single (REO Speedwagon anyone?) with 1973’s ‘The Joker’ and yet this LP sold very well considering, eventually turning gold.

The Songs

Opening with spooky foghorn and lilting organ, ‘Song For Our Ancestors’ is a forgotten gem of American psychedelic that hints at Can styled Krautrock and makes for a wonderful, if slightly strange near six minute listen.

‘Dear Mary’ is patterned after the British pop sound of the day recalling The Beatles, The Kinks and the like, punched up with tasty Sgt. Pepper-ish horns. Very nice and it has to be said this version of the Steve Miller Band had oodles of talent containing no less than four lead vocalists and drummer Tim Davis takes the front and center with the fast paced ‘My Friend’.

While ‘Living In The U.S.A’ was a hit a year later for Wilmer And The Dukes although I prefer the original which got a lot of airplay in the 70’s when Steve Miller was everywhere on radio. ‘Quicksilver Girl’ again sounds very quaint and very English, but from here I find the material slips into a blues rock extravaganza which really doesn’t draw me in.

Yes, the cover of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson‘s ‘Gangster Of Love’ pops up in the lyric on ‘The Joker’ single years later, but this version smells suspiciously like filler. And the two Boz Scaggs cuts that round out the album are not even close to the quality of the earlier material and sound nothing like the Boz we know and love.

In Summary

Scaggs left after the ‘Sailor’ tour, bound for a lucrative solo career and the Steve Miller line-up continued to change, even including Journey‘s Ross Valory at one point. This album is not for everyone, but for a glimpse into the largely unknown past of one of the 1970’s most successful bands it’s an essential listen, at least three-quarters of it.

Steve Miller Band on Video

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