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STEVE MILLER BAND
Live From Chicago

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Steve Miller Band
Director:  Daniel Catullo
Audio: Circle Surround 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1 and 2.0
Video: Color Widescreen 1.78:1
Features:  See Review
Length:  125 Minutes, two DVD discs and one audio CD
Studio: Koch Entertainment DVD
Release Date:
May 27, 2008

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future…”

Film ***

Steve Miller certainly deserves credit as just a good old fashioned rock and roller who recorded lots of great tunes.  His vocals are simple but the songs he writes work.  I have heard all of these tunes over and over but they seem to have held up much better than many of our current crop of guitarists/songwriters, who will remain unnamed here.  Maybe it is my age, but I just don’t think anyone in 20 years will be listening to them, but here we are thirty years after Miller made these albums and they still sound great.  His Greatest Hits was a catalog favorite when I worked in music stores in the 1980’s and it still sells well today.

I’m baffled as to why the documentary is on a separate disc, then there is a radio show, with video, which talks about the documentary.  This is not nearly enough to justify a separate DVD and deludes the buyer into thinking you are getting two DVD’s worth of material when you are only getting one.  It is nice to have a CD of some of the best tracks also, but I can’t help comparing this to Journey’s Revelation set of a concert DVD, a CD of re-recorded hits, and a CD of all new material, most of which is excellent.  The Journey disc is about one third the price of this Steve Miller set.   

This is a good concert of a good performance, no problems with audio or video at all, it is just not exceptional either.  His performance of “Mercury Blues” is good, and while he changes the lyrics to “Crossroads” from the Cream version his lead playing is good.  It reminds me of a Jimmy Buffet concert which is not exceptional but a rocking good time is had by all.   It is what it is.

Songlist for DVD:  1) Fly Like an Eagle, 2) Living in the USA, 3) True Fine Love, 4) Abracadabra, 5) Mercury Blues. 6) The Stake, 7) Shu Ba Da Ma Ma Ma Ma, 8) Boom Bapa Boom, 9) All Your Lovin’s, 10) Crossroads, 11) Serenade, 12) Dance, Dance, Dance, 13) Wild Mountain Honey, 14) Winter Time, 15) Rock ‘N Me, 16, Take the Money and Run, 17) The Joker, 18) Swingtown, 19) Jungle Love, 20) Jet Airliner.

CD Songlist: 1) Rock ‘N Me, 2) The Joker, 3) The Stake, 4) Jungle Lover, 5) Serenade, 6) Take the Money and Run, 7) Jet Airliner, 8) Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma, 9) Fly Like an Eagle, 10) Abracadabra, 11) Winter Time, 12) Wild Mountain Honey.

Video ***1/2

Good action shots mixed with audience participation, you really feel like you are right there.  Excellent quality in the video itself, though not high definition as with many current concert releases. 

Audio ***1/2

While having several options including DTS is nice, and the mix is excellent, it is nothing exceptional, as with other aspects of this release.

Features **

Until I saw the documentary with the concert I was unaware of Steve Miller’s blues roots.  Honestly I don’t hear much of it in his music.  Some of the speakers in the documentaries seem to think Miller is a blues evangelist like Eric Clapton, but I don’t understand that.  He did try hard to get his heroes gigs at the same places he played in San Francisco, so he should rightfully be thanked for that.  The documentary is nice in its interviews with Steve but the fan commentary gets a little silly and almost makes me embarrassed to admit I like Miller with these other yahoos.  So I recommend ignoring that and just pay attention to Steve talking about his rapid ride to the top.  The Photo Gallery is fine but Steve Miller wins fans on talent, not looks.  The Joe Selvin Radio program is just a slow motion rehash of the documentary and is not needed.  I am not sure why there is not room for all of these on Disc One.  The nicely packaged set also includes a glossy book with photos and a length commentary on Mr. Miller’s place in rock history.

Summary:

If you are a fan of the Joker, you will love this concert, but it is not so incredible as to win new fans.  When I was first getting into rock music, concerts on television made me a believer, whereas this is more of a sentimental journey to late night tokin’.

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