Steve Miller Band

Before a remarkable run of three-chord monsters, Steve Miller was a soulful, highly respected Bay Area guitar slinger operating mostly under the mainstream radar.

Before a remarkable run of three-chord monsters, Steve Miller was a soulful, highly respected Bay Area guitar slinger operating mostly under the mainstream radar. This too-cool treasure chest of live performances from the noted radio show King Biscuit Flower Hour showcases Miller and his crack bands as a crowd-pleasing act poised on the brink of stardom but still struggling to find commercial legs. Disc one comes from a 1973 Washington, D.C., performance and features exuberant, hard-rocking takes on concert staples "Space Cowboy," "Gangster of Love," and "Living in the USA," as well as well-executed blues and R&B cuts and a trippy, brilliantly flawed 11-minute early version of soon-to-be career song "Fly Like an Eagle." Disc two is from New York's Beacon Theater in '76 and finds Miller and reconfigured band more rhythmic and a little less edgy but nevertheless highly motivated. "The Joker" holds up well (though we still don't know what the "pompetus of love" is), the thumping "Going to the Country" shows Miller's love of the genre, and "Fly Like an Eagle" evolved into a confident, road-tested, thundering behemoth trimmed to less than five minutes. Miller may have found a reliable formula by the late '70s, but he definitely had it goin' on live far earlier.—RW