Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle (1976)
Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! We’re taking a listen to, what is arguably one of the most influential rock albums of the mid-70s, Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. Prior to the mid-70s, the Steve Miller Band primarily focused on making psychedelic rock music. It wasn’t until the release of their previous album, The Joker, that they started shifting to both a blues rock inspired sound that was common for traditional rock at the time. Some of those early influences are still audible on this album, particularly on songs like “Blue Odyssey” and “Wild Mountain Honey,” but it’s a different kind of psychedelic rock than you would normally think of. This is a more restrained psychedelic rock sound that serves to enhance another style instead of overtaking the album.
Fly Like an Eagle would go on to be one of the band’s best-selling albums, with the only equal being the sequel to Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams. This is often cited as one of the best rock albums ever made for a good reason; this is consistently a very good album. There isn’t a lot of filler, the production quality is great, the songs are dynamic, and they show a wide ability in terms of musical ability. Many of the songs from this record continue to receive heavy airplay on classic rock radio and you’ll find that even if you don’t know the song, you’ll be able to immediately identify the “Steve Miller Sound.” This is a great album and I hope you enjoy one of the greats!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
Space Intro: “Space Intro” is a really neat way to open an album. Immediately, you know you’re being transported to another world, Steve Miller’s world, where psychedelic rock, folk, blues, and classic rock come together in harmony. The transition into “Fly Like An Eagle” is seamless too and even carries over into the song. Good start, but I wish it was a little longer. It’s hard to judge a one-minute long song like that. Dad’s Rating 6/10
Fly Like An Eagle: The title song for the album is such a fantastic piece of music. Let’s start with the instrumentals. Miller’s vocals are smooth as velvet and lightly processed to add to the spacey feeling of the song, amplified by the backing synthesizer. The syncopated drum beat during the chorus gives the song a little bounce, despite being a softer song on the whole. “Fly Like An Eagle” is dynamic in its approach to rock music and showcases a versatile style while harkening back to the psychedelic roots of the band. Dad’s Rating 9/10
Wild Mountain Honey: When I first listened to “Wild Mountain Honey” I wasn’t sure that the synth-heavy approach was going to work in the song’s favor, but with the infrequency with which it’s used it only helps to continue the spaced out theme from “Fly Like An Eagle.” I adore the vocals on this song and appreciate the fact that the band realized they were the feature on the song and put them forward. I don’t normally rate slower songs as highly as faster tempo songs (selective bias at play), but “Wild Mountain Honey” has a lot going for it. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Serenade: “Serenade” is the first ‘traditional’ rock song on the album and it’s a good one! If the whole album has continued the psychedelic feeling of the first three songs throughout the album it would have been overwhelming so I’m grateful for a break. Although this is a slightly above average rock song (with extra credit going to the vocal performance) it feels like one of the designated album filler songs. Hey, I wish every filler song could be this good so I won’t complain! Dad’s Rating 6/10
Dance, Dance, Dance: Including a song like “Dance, Dance, Dance” on this record was a brilliant idea. This is a reimagining of a classic folk song, made friendly for rock music. This was re-recorded very well and it fits squarely within the already present blues, psychedelic, and classic rock sounds of the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Mercury Blues: I’m a sucker for a blues rock/folk rock inspired rock song, and “Mercury Blues” hits all the notes. Musically it follows a traditional blues structure but tuned a little heavier thanks to the electric guitar. Sonically, it fits really well on this album, stuck between some ballads, some rock classics, and one or two other blues tracks. This is a solid song, but not the best on the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Take The Money And Run: This here’s the story ‘bout a guy who writes a blog. “Take The Money And Run” is another one of my favorite tracks that has made it onto my “Tops” Playlist. Maybe I’ll share that one day, but in the meantime, you’ll have to put it together by picking songs out of this blog! I really like the story that the lyrics tell on this song. I can’t often follow the lyrics of songs, but hearing the story about two lovers who go out and murder a gas station owner while robbing him, then taking the money and running is exciting! It’s an easy-to-follow adventure story in song format set to an infectious guitar riff. I almost feel like this song could be turned into a movie, that’s how good the detail in Miller’s storytelling is. “Take The Money And Run” will always be a frontrunner in my favorites. Dad’s Rating 10/10
Rock’n Me: I can’t believe that we go straight from a song as big as “Take The Money And Run” into “Rock’n Me!” These two are legendary rock songs that could have carried their own albums, but we get them on one album together! I’m not as much of a fan of “Rock’n Me” as the preceding song, but I recognize that it’s a solidly composed rock song that shows off the best of the band in a radio-friendly format. Dad’s Rating 7/10
You Send Me: This is one of the most surprising songs that I’ve listened to all year, and I never expected to hear it on a Steve Miller album. Maybe that’s what makes it more surprising. Immediately I get a 1950s doo-wop vibe from the vibrating, layered vocals and soft guitar. This is a peaceful song that manages to stay true to a rock sound by playing the notes and singing just a little more forcefully than normal for a doo-wop song. “You Send Me” is an absolute gem and worth your time. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Blue Odyssey and Sweet Maree: I’ve put these two together because I honestly thought they were the same song at first, and if you listen to them back-to-back, I think you’ll understand why. “Blue Odyssey” is a space-trek in 50 seconds. There’s lots of synth, but the surprising part is the transition into the Delta Blues track, “Sweet Maree.” It feels like you’ve travelled through space to get to a different part of the world and your introduction to this new world is a harmonica solo. I would have never expected that transition to work but it’s fantastic! This is just another example of how the band was able to pull on their early psychedelic influences to make a unique record that flows from one piece to the next. Dad’s Rating 9/10
The Window: I initially expected “The Window” to be a bit of album filler to round out the album, but I suppose I should have known better after having listened to the rest of this record. This is a great soft rock track that balances out every element perfectly. The vocals aren’t too far forward like was done purposefully (and rightfully so) on some of the other tracks, but are instead balanced by little asides on the keyboard and a strong bass line. Now that I’m at the end of the album, I think I can firmly say that this is one of the most enjoyable albums that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year. Stellar album and I’m looking forward to a review of Book of Dreams in the future. Dad’s Rating 7/10
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