Book Of Dreams
REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/20/2008
Classic rock fans will never dispute that Steve Miller is one of the all-time greatest guitarists. On Book Of Dreams, his tenth studio album, Miller stretches a bit by incorporating the synthesizer into his band’s music formula. While there are plenty of straightforward rock tunes to enjoy, there are also some envelope-pushing moments to savor. Making the strongest impression of all is the mind-bending opener “Threshold.” This otherworldly instrumental piece serves as an intro to the hit single “Jet Airliner,” which was the first song I ever heard that contained a curse word. I’m sure you remember the immortal line, “I don’t wanna get caught up in any of that funky shit goin’ down in the city…”
1977 was indeed a turning point for music. Punk and new wave were about to give disco the heave-ho, and bands like ABBA and Fleetwood Mac finally had a #1 song here in the States. Classic rock was given a facelift, too, with new releases from the likes of Heart and the Steve Miller Band. What made these two acts particularly noteworthy is the fact that they injected something new and exciting into the floundering folk rock genre. Electronic elements particularly helped to flesh out Steve Miller’s sound, while Heart’s
The more adventurous souls listening to Book Of Dreams will discover lesser-known tracks like the dreamer’s zone-out anthem “Wish Upon A Star” and the unexpected thunderous rocker “The Stake.” Partying teens, at least back in my day, also couldn’t seem to get enough of the edgy “Jet Airliner” or the live staple “Jungle Love.” If you’re looking for the perfect driving song to turn up the volume to, then “Swingtown” is it. As a matter of fact, it was a car commercial that helped to make that tune so popular. As far as the album’s slow songs go, “Wintertime” is a haunting ballad as chilly as its title suggests, while “Sacrifice” is one of those tracks that isn’t in much of a hurry to go anywhere. It’s a nice change of pace, however, and helps to break things up a bit.
There were two other instrumental pieces tacked on to the second half of the album, but neither one of them really amounts to much because of their brevity. The strangely titled “Electro Lux Imbroglio” is nothing more than an unnecessary intro to “Sacrifice,” and “Babes In The Wood” comes eerily close to sounding like “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. Nevertheless, the many standout tracks more than make up for such minor bumps in the road, and even though Steve Miller didn’t get to #1 again until 1982’s “Abracadabra,” Book Of Dreams still holds up as his finest moment.