Living In The 20th Century

Steve Miller Band

Capitol, 1986

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


After his 1984 debacle Italian X-Rays, Steve Miller made a fine comeback two years later with Living In The 20th Century. Dedicated to Jimmy Reed, it was his first blues album in over 15 years.

Miller took complete control of the recording process again. Unlike his last effort where his band members wrote the majority of the material, here Miller penned five of the tracks himself. Three Jimmy Reed covers plus several other blues songs combine to make this one of the better efforts of the second half of his career. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album had a cohesive flow to it. It began with four original Miller compositions before transitioning to his interpretations of six blues songs and finally finishing with another original.

There was a lot of good music contained on the disc. The best of his originals was “Behind The Barn,” which features both James Cotton and Norton Buffalo contributing with some harp play, plus Led Dudek adding a country sound with his dobro. “Slinky” is an often overlooked gem in Miller’s vast catalogue of music. It was an instrumental that contained one of the better guitar performances of his career. It finds Miller laid back and relaxed and makes one wish he would record more guitar-oriented songs. “I Want The World To Turn Around” settled in to a nice groove with saxophone player Kenny G.

The Jimmy Reed covers were a labor of love. “I Wanna Be Loved (But Only By You)” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby” are given modernized interpretations by Miller. “Caress Me Baby” serves as a jumping off point for some more of Miller’s guitar improvisation that would have made Reed proud. Add in such tunes as “My Babe” and “Big Boss Man” and you have a nice grouping of classic blues interpretations.

Living In The 20th Century is oftentimes an album that floats under the Steve Miller fan’s radar. But it is a fine release that deserves more attention, as it found Miller in a place that he had not visited in quite a while. If you ever want to explore the Steve Miller band outside of his better known releases, then this is an album for you.

Rating: B+

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