The Steve Miller Band - Recall The Beginning...A Journey From Eden

The Steve Miller Band
Recall The Beginning...A Journey From Eden

Released 1972 on Capitol
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 02/04/2002ce

If you're living outside of the U.S.A. chances are The Steve Miller Band doesn't mean much to you. However inside the States Miller and his various bands were quite popular during the late 1960's and then again in the late 70's and beyond. In fact during Miller's commercial heyday of the late 70's he was responsible for some of the funniest hit records of all time (old Steve basically pinched riffs from mega-hits by the likes of Free, Cream and Joe Walsh and blended them into his own moronic readymade FM radio staples.) Along with his fellow comfort zone S.F. cohorts The Jefferson Wheelchair, Miller rode the airwaves for several years.

But the story began much earlier for Miller and his original Steve Miller Blues Band. Miller and Co. were sort of late arrivals on the San Francisco Haight Ashbury scene. Miller showed up in the Haight from Texas via a short stay in Wisconsin. Steve's early outfit had more in common with The Butterfield Blues Band & Electric Flag than the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane.

Miller inked a deal with Capitol Records in late 1967 along with Quicksilver and The Sons Of Champlin. Fresh off their appearance at The Monterey Pop Festival, Miller entered the studio and emerged with a mini-masterpiece in "Children Of The Future." This was an inspired collection which showcased the group's songwriting skills and impressive instrumental chops. Miller's second in command Boz Scaggs came up with a brilliant number called "Baby's Callin' Me Home" and singer/drummer Tim Davis also proved to be a valuable asset.

The group's second set "Sailor" was also dynamite and featured the band's early signature tune "Living In The U.S.A" and a host of other goodies especially the rockin' "My Friend" and the reflective "Dear Mary." On their early records the Miller Band sounded more like a British progressive band than a Bay Area acid combo.

However after "Sailor" Miller began losing band members at a steady rate. By the time of the group's next album "Brave New World" only Tim Davis and bassist Lonnie Turner remained. "Brave New World" was also a good record but it contained a touch of filler (mainly in tracks by Davis & Turner.)

The next record "Your Saving Grace" was another good one, most notably the title track which featured a great Davis vocal and smooth keyboard work by Nicky Hopkins. The followup "Number 5" featured a new bassist (former Frumious Bandersnatch member Bobby Winkleman.) This record is where the rot began to set in, and only "Never Kill Another Man" would be considered first rate.

With "Rock Love" Miller completely bottomed out. Steve drafted in another Frumious Bandersnatch member Ross Valory on bass (later in Journey) and a new drummer. This album was ill-conceived and listless (one side was live and a stone drag.) It appeared this is where the Steve Miller saga would end.

However Miller had a real ace up his sleeve and delivered it to an unsuspecting public in 1972. Miller retreated to the studio with a brace of crack studio vets and issued "Recall The Beginning...A Jounery From Eden" to critical raves.

The record begins with a soul/funk instrumental called "Welcome" which slides effortlessly into a groovy 50's Doo-Wop number called "Enter Maurice" this one is greasy as hell and a whole lot of fun. "High On You Mama" is a seductive down-home blues piece that features some pretty slide guitar and underwater bass guitar runs. "Heal Your Heart" goes back to the soul strut of early Miller albums such as "Sailor" and "Your Saving Grace." The next track "The Sun Is Going Down" is a bit of fluff but nothing that offensive. Side one ends with a real winner called "Somebody Somewhere Help Me" this one re-visits the record's opening theme then turns into a classic dose of blue-eyed soul (this would have been a bitchin' 45 but Capitol wasn't having it, what a bunch of squares man!!!)

In truth side one is fine uptempo groovin' stuff but it simply does not prepare you for the brilliance of side 2, in my opinion this is one of the greatest album sides in pop history and probably the pinnacle of Miller's career. It's like Miller was magically transported back to the glory days of 1967-68. Side 2 begins with a gorgeous acoustic piece called "Love's Riddle" which features dreamy strings and Miller's eerie whispered vocals, then it's right into another mellow down easy number called "Fandango" which explodes into technicolor during the song's mid-section.

"Nothing Lasts" is just plain incredible, it opens with a dramatic wash of strings and Miller's elegant acoustic fingerpicking. The piece then takes flight in exhilirating fashion with Steve singing a majestic duet with himself, this number could be the greatest thing Miller ever recorded. But wait it gets even better, the closing track "Journey From Eden" (aka "Blackbird") is a mind-numbing psychedelic trip ballad straight off the grooves of the group's debut 1968 "Children Of The Future." Wow! what a finish to a briiliant side of music. You might think I'm mad but the stuff on the second side of this record is right up there with Big Star #3, Forever Changes by Love and Starsailor by Tim Buckley and other heavies.

Sadly "Recall The Beginning...Journey From Eden" was not the huge hit it deserved to be and has been all but forgotten over the years. This is a fucking tragedy man!!!

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