Album review

The Steve Miller Band, ‘Bingo!’

June 14, 2010

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Steve Miller is known variously as the Gangster of Love, the Midnight Toker, and the Space Cowboy, but above all, he’s a blues loyalist. This is his first studio album in 17 years and has freshly minted treatments of many songs Miller played as a youth in Dallas, then later as a member of Buddy Guy’s band in Chicago before moving to fame and fortune in the Bay Area. The results are mixed. Some of this is merely a hobbyist homage to his roots (his shuffling cover of Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Dizzy’’ is unexciting), but some of it crackles, such as “Rock Me Baby’’ (a B.B. King standard) and Lowell Fulson’s “Tramp,’’ where Miller & Co. are servants of the groove. There are no original songs by Miller, but highlights abound. Guitar hero Joe Satriani guests on two tracks, adding hot but not overplayed solos; and Miller Band veteran and harmonica ace Norton Buffalo shines (he has since died from cancer, and the album is dedicated to him). Miller sounds at home with ancient nuggets by Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Rush — and he does justice to three more contemporary tracks by fellow Texan Jimmie Vaughan — but there is a nagging feeling that this album could have been better. (Out tomorrow) -- STEVE MORSE

ESSENTIAL “Rock Me Baby’’

The Steve Miller Band, Bingo!
Roadrunner/ Loud & Proud/ Space Cowboy