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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2007
Just indulge an old 60's vinyl hobo for a few words preamble. It's like this; you just knew there was something good within that sleeve when you were drawn to the cover alone! Ah CD covers just don't have the same impact, but I digress. Let's get on with the important stuff.
`SAILOR' in its day and for about two decades afterwards was considered a classic by folk who cared about quality and artistry. A merging of as it was called then `experimental' with good old rock and blues and some fine pop music. Let me tell you about this track-by-track. It's the only way.
SONG FOR OUR ANCESTORS, begins the album, long low foghorns, distant ships' bells, I guess this was inspired by San Francisco's bay, this holds you for longer than you believe before the music swells up and the foghorns' fade, you are now in a wonderful blend of keyboard and guitar, the latter slipping into an odd mechanical style that sounds as ship's engines might. On this odyssey goes making you feel you are out there with the sea. The best instrumental of the era! Moving smoothly in DEAR MARY an example of a trade-mark Miller poignant love song made all the more emotional with the added soundtrack of failing rain, and a very sweet guitar. In turn merging into the fast moving drumming and urgent rhythms of a Tim Davis and Boz Scagg's collaboration MY FRIEND, an incisive piece of observation on the human condition. And no pause for breath for we are into one's of Miller's own sharp commentary songs LIVIN' IN THE USA, this has got everything, Harley Davidson opening, a fast beat, mean harmonica, intelligent lyrics, and a racehorse commentary as an ending. Now a change of pace into the slow, beautiful QUICKSILVER GIRL, the subject matter was nothing orginal; legion were the songs in the 1960s of free-spirit girls, but oh the harmonies of this one and the soft, delicate guitar work. Now next comes one of my favourites a rare Jim Peterman offering LUCKY MAN, starting with a bright jaunty folksy and country guitar before slipping into a low tone blues influenced and guitar and keyboard, and I could be wrong but I believe the singer is Jim, on a up-beat, straightforward love song. This one always raises my spirits. Tracks continue to slip from one to another and with a chorus of various impressions of crooks we are into GANGSTER OF LOVE, which actually was written by Johnny `Guitar' Wilson and is the player boasting about his..err prowess and success with the ladies. I always like to think this was done as in one session as at the end there is a distinct lot of laughing and falling about. Sticking with the band's early affinity with old blues and rock, comes a fine rendition of Jimmy Reed's YOU'RE SO FINE, proving as five-piece unit this band was very underrated in its time and you've just got to love the harmonica break. Finally two Boz Scaggs works and considering he made a reputation as an accomplished producer of rich, melodic and lush sounds, these are as hard-drivin' and rockin' as any of their time. OVERDRIVE is one, which ensures your toes will not stay still, and if you try to restrain them, then you find your fingers will take over. Now DIME-A-DANCE-ROMANCE is a rock gigolo song, and I am sure many a 70s metal band musician heard this on his older sib's record player; only this had melody as well, and by the way let's hear it for bass player Lonnie Turner, who nearly gets to play lead on this one! Rock-rock-rock!!
This was the second and last album the five-piece band would create; Scaggs would forge his own solo career, Peterman would take time out from touring to work in studios. Folk will argue over the best period of Steve Miller's work. For me there was The Steve Miller Band, followed by Steve Miller with a band, brilliant in its own right,and I wish for the impossible that there had been a way the five-piece team could have stayed together as well! Who knows where they would have gone? Take a break from some of the 60's showmen and women, buy this and appreciate musicians.
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on 26 July 2011
I had always had a soft feeling for the early Steve Miller Band. At my age I get confused with each album. I just seem to remember that in pre divorce days I had some beautiful music by this band.
Immediately on playing it all came back. I was young and vibrant once again. The musicianship and clarity of notes is like a breathe of fresh air. The dockyard sound effects bring back memories of my childhood days in foggy Liverpool. Although I love all of the Steve Miller albums I think this would probably go down as my favourite. Far less commercial than Fly like an Eagle. I think it has dated less also.
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on 21 January 2004
If you’re looking for those “lost” albums that capture San Francisco music c.1967/8 then you’re in the right place for “Sailor” pretty well epitomises the musical mix swirling through the city’s ballrooms at the time.
As with many of their Bay Area contemporaries, The Steve Miller Band were essentially a rock/blues group seeking to incorporate Haight Ashbury ideals into their 12 bar roots. Truth was they were better than most because not only could they play but they also recognised that combining “hippie” music with dance-hall R&B was a pretty impossible task. So, on “Sailor”, they take a more pragmatic approach – put simply: you want dance stuff, we do it, you want the ethereal stuff, we do it too, but don’t ask us to mix them up too much.
The result? Well… first off, the album contains two low-key classics: “Song For Our Ancestors”, a superbly ambient instrumental that starts with almost two minutes of unaccompanied foghorns (truly!) before giving way to a waveringly distant organ, a detached guitar riff and a muffled timpani back-beat to produce a track that, unless you were there, is the closest you’ll ever come to experiencing San Francisco in the early morning of its hippie dawn; and, “Quicksilver Girl”, whose sparse guitar work, simple lyrics and overly wistful harmonies somehow distil the gentle spirit of “love & peace” without collapsing into corny trash. Second off, you get two excellent, hard-hitting progressive rock cuts in “Living in the USA” & “My Friend” that are up there with anything produced by the more successful San Francisco bands. And… finally, (ignoring the trite “Dear Mary”) a half album’s worth of fairly high quality late 60’s R&B.
Good music, but uncomfortable bedfellows. Yet, despite (or because of) its odd mixture of styles, “Sailor” stands alongside Country Joe & The Fish’s and Jefferson Airplane’s early albums as one of the best snapshots of what was actually going on in a now very distant time & place.
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on 28 June 2014
Having just bought this on the strength of the reviews I have to admit to being disappointed with the remastering. I've been comparing it to my ripped vinyl (Wav). Whilst the sleeve insert contents are great the remastering is not. There is far to much top end. Nothing shows this better than on Overdrive where the driving bass is nearly lost and the snare drums dominate. As for the rhythm guitar, I can only assume he didn't get on with the drummer and the drummer did the mixing!

It's a real shame, an opportunity missed to perfect a real classic.
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on 14 September 2016
One of the best albums from the 1960s American progressive rock era from a group of outstanding musicians. The band's second LP, Miller clearly was keen to be experimental and cross music styles. Living in the USA and Gangster of Love might be the best known tracks but Quicksilver Girl is the haunting track that will remain your head for many hours. And this edition from Edsel includes a superbly documented booklet. Highly recommended.
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on 8 April 2016
Far be it from me to quibble about the psychedelic genius of this album, but after the pulsating proto-ambience of Song For Our Ancestors fades out the guitar fade-in of My Friend would be just sublime, rather than the parping French Horn of Dear Mary.
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on 24 October 2007
Sorry, top 100 reviewer but this album came out in late 68 long after the Hippies trashed Haight Ashbury.
This album is worth purchasing for the cover alone which perfectly expresses the mood and content of the album.
It is one of Miller's best albums in that it is a fine mix of blues, pop and experimental with some really great tunes, danceable beat and thought provoking sound doodles.
Miller begins to stake his claim as one of the all time great guitarists without going over the top. The album is both dark and light; serious and fun. A gem; a joy.
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on 1 November 2012
Sailor by the Steve Miller Band was one of the first albums I remember buying in the late 60s. I'd forgotten about it but when it was re-released on CD, it brought back some great memories.

To be honest, it sounds better today from the spooky intro of Song for our Ancestors with it's ship fog horns to the good time Gangster of Love, the album is a real treat. Livin in the USA is one of the great funk tracks of all time.

Yeah Yeah Stay with me baby ...
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on 6 January 2013
Just like Children of the Future it is the first side that is the best: however side two (on the LP) is far better than side two on the former album. If Children of the Future gets 8/10 - Sailor gets 9/10.
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on 19 September 2012
My rating of the product is based on my vinyl copy of Sailor and as there are no bonus tracks on the reissue I'm fairly sure it would be the same. I totally agree with the 5CD box set idea as in the original album series, especially as there don't appear to be any bonus tracks apart from on Children of the future (even then it says bonus tracks but there only appears to be one)I've recently bought the Spirit original five albums box set for around a tenner and the Springsteen collection 73-84 (seven CDs!including The River which was a double on vinyl)for around fifteen quid so called me tight fisted but I don't think I'll be spending £40+ to replace my Steve Miller Band vinyl despite the quality of some of the music on offer.
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