- The sound is rich and clear, with tremendous space, critical to reproducing the recording’s spacey (and pretty cool) effects
- The title track and Take The Money and Run both sound amazing (but so does pretty much everything else)
- 4 1/2 stars: “The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits.”
- If you’re a Steve Miller fan, or perhaps a fan of mid-’70s Classic Rock, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own.
- The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
On this copy, you get richness and warmth, front and center immediacy, extension up top and down low, and loads of energy. The synths have texture, the guitars are full-bodied and the bottom end is nice and meaty.
The soundfield is especially open and transparent, with three-dimensional space that brings out the trippy effects the band threw in all over the place. When they sound this good, they really work some Seventies Analog Magic.
This Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Fly Like An Eagle Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1976
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.
What We’re Listening For On Fly Like An Eagle
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
A Must Own Pop Record
We consider this Steve Miller record his Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
Fly Like An Eagle
Wild Mountain Honey
Dance, Dance, Dance
Take The Money And Run
You Send Me
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Steve Miller had started to essay his classic sound with The Joker, but 1976’s Fly Like an Eagle is where he took flight, creating his definitive slice of space blues.
The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits. It still can sound fairly dated — those whooshing keyboards and cavernous echoes are certainly of their time — but its essence hasn’t aged, as “Fly Like an Eagle” drifts like a cool breeze, while “Take the Money and Run” and “Rock ‘n Me” are fiendishly hooky, friendly rockers…
Though it may not quite transcend its time, it certainly is an album rock landmark of the mid-’70s and its best moments (namely, the aforementioned singles) are classics of the idiom.