Italian X Rays

Steve Miller Band

Capitol, 1984

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


During the late 1960s, The Steve Miller Band produced an excellent series of psychedelic rock and blues fusion albums. They switched directions during the mid-1970s through the early ‘80s by issuing some of the finest pop/rock albums of the era, whose commercial success elevated Miller to superstar status. That success came to a sudden halt in 1984 with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Italian X Rays.

I have no doubt that somewhere in the Steve Miller universe there are fans who appreciate this album. It is an album I have really tried to like, but it always comes up short; altogether, it remains one of the weakest of his studio releases.

Basically, the songwriting just did not measure up to Miller’s best work. He had depended heavily on his band mates (Byron Allred, Kenny Lee Lewis, and Gary Mallaber), and without them, he wrote a number of forgettable tracks. He also co-wrote two tracks with Tim Davis, the original drummer of The Steve Miller Band, who at the time was ill with severe diabetes, which would shortly claim his life. Unfortunately, “Who Do You Love” and “Out Of The Night” were more poignant than good. Miller’s only solo composition, “One In A Million,” was a nice acoustic love song, which suggested he should have taken more control of the material on this release.  

The other major problem was that he tried too hard to fit in with the music scene of the mid-1980s. He used a synthesizer sound, which eliminated many of his guitar solos. When combined with drum machines in places and a thumping bass, he was far removed from his best and most successful styles of music.

So what does that leave other than the aforementioned “One In A Million”? The answer is not much. The title track may be a tad repetitive, but it had a nice funky feel with a deep bass sound in places. I could do without the excessive keyboards of “Bongo Bongo,” but it is somewhat catchy.

Italian X Rays was a difficult listen in 1985 and remains so today. What made it worse at the time were the comparisons to what had preceded it. It is one of those releases only for Steve Miller fans who must have everything.

Rating: D

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