Steve Miller Band – The Joker – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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It took two separate pressings — on two different Capitol labels no less — to bring you White Hot Stamper sound from first note to last on this, Steve Miller’s breakthrough album. The Joker may have topped the charts in January of 1974, but the average pressing has that song sounding worse than it does on the radio! Most copies of this record just plain suck (to use the vernacular appropriate to the band). Dry, thin, flat, opaque, smeary, small, midrangy — we’ve all heard ’70s Capitol pressings with this sound, and most copies of this album have some, even most, of these shortcomings.

Which is why it takes two different records from two different eras in order to get you good sound for both sides.

Side One – Record One

A+++, or “A+++” as recorded in my notes because, let’s face it, this is not exactly audiophile quality sound.

That said, this copy blew the doors off of everything else we played. A list of its strengths would include these qualities: open, clear, dynamic, lively, energetic, with no smear, punchy drums, and breathy vocals. The Winner!

Side Two – Record Two

A+++, this time with no scare quotes around it! The sound seems to be a step up over any side one we played — it’s rich and tubey, yet big, clear and uncolored.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Sugar Babe
Mary Lou
Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma
Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash

Side Two

The Joker
Lovin’ Cup
Come On in My Kitchen
Evil
Something to Believe In

AMG  Review

The Joker is, without question, the turning point in Steve Miller’s career, the album where he infused his blues with a big, bright dose of pop and got exactly what he deserved: Top Ten hits and stardom. He also lost a lot of fans, the ones who dug his winding improvs, because those spacy jams were driven by chops and revealed new worlds. The Joker isn’t mind-expanding, it’s party music, filled with good vibes, never laying a heavy trip, always keeping things light, relaxed and easygoing… [the] sense of fun is the most appealing thing about The Joker and it set a touchstone for the rest of his career. Here, it’s best heard on the terrific opener “Sugar Babe” and, of course, the timeless title track, which is sunny and ridiculous in equal measure.

Wikipedia

“The Joker” is a song by the Steve Miller Band from their 1973 album The Joker. The song is one of two Steve Miller Band songs that feature the neologism “pompatus”. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974.

More than 16 years later, in September 1990, it reached number one in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks after being used in “Great Deal”, a Hugh Johnson-directed television advertisement for Levi’s, thus holding the record for the longest gap between transatlantic chart-toppers. This reissue of “The Joker” also topped the Irish Singles Chart, the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart, the Dutch Nationale Top 100 and the Dutch Top 40.

The first line of the lyrics is a reference to the song Space Cowboy from Miller’s Brave New World album. The following lines refer to two other earlier songs: “Gangster of Love” from Sailor and “Enter Maurice” from Recall the Beginning…A Journey from Eden.

During the song, Steve Miller references lines from the 1954 The Clovers song “Lovey Dovey” four times when he sings “You’re the cutest thing that I ever did see/ Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time”; the second of these mentions is during the fade-out.

The song is noted for its wolf whistle played on a slide guitar after the “lovey dovey” parts and the “some people call me Maurrice [sic]” part.

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