Steve Miller hasn’t released a new studio album in 17 years but he plans to make up for lost time with a pair of blues and R&B cover sets that will come out this year and next.
“Bingo!,” Miller’s first Steve Miller Band release on his own Space Cowboy Records label in partnership with Roadrunner/Loud & Proud, comes out June 15 and features songs by B.B. King (“Rock Me Baby”), Lowell Fulson (“Tramp”), Jimmy Reed (“You Got Me Dizzy”) and three Jimmie Vaughan compositions, among others. Miller plans to put a companion album out in the spring of 2011.
“This is a party record, man,” Miller tells Billboard.com. “It’s about getting up and getting ready to dance. It’s like the fraternity party gigs I used to play in college. I went through and picked all my favorite tunes that I really, really loved. I wanted to make this record forever; it started off as just kind of a goof, and then it got real serious.”
The sessions for “Bingo!” and its successor actually started in 2008 with co-producer Andy Johns at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in northern California. The two were working on Miller’s last concert DVD, “Live From Chicago,” and he recalls that “Andy said, ‘Boy, I would really love to do a guitar album with you,’ and I said, ‘Y’know, I’m getting ready to do one.’ The next thing you know…we go into Skywalker and cut 42 tracks.”
Besides his regular band, including the late harmonica player Norton Buffalo, Miller — who’s been playing many of these songs on the road during the past few years — was also joined by Joe Satriani on “Rock Me Baby” and Vaughan’s “Sweet Soul Vibe,” as well as by Santana percussionists Michael Carabello and Jose Areas. Among the songs slated for the next album are Reed’s “Close Together,” Junior Wells’ “Snatch It Back and Hold It,” Roscoe Gordon’s “No More Doggin’,” Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Be Satisfied,” Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago” and Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Walk.”
“It’s a great group of songs, and it gives us a lot of new material to play,” Miller notes. “I’m excited about releasing some new music for the audience and for my band and for me to play. This material we’re just releasing now we’ve been working on stage for the last couple of years and it’s been going over really, really well and it’s just worked out that now seemed like a good time to release a record.”
Miller and company will be on the road in North America starting May 21 in Henderson, Nevada, with a new stage set by Broadway designer Rob Roth. He also plans to play Europe during the fall. Meanwhile, Miller says he has “10 or 11 pieces of music” for original songs that he has yet to write lyrics for, and he’s also working with some youth musicians from San Francisco and Texas.