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Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle Album Of The Week Club review

Fly Like An Eagle is an album that sees Steve Miller navigate his way through rapidly changing musical tides

Steve Miller Band
(Image: © Capitol Records)
Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle

(Image credit: Capitol Records)

Space Intro
Fly Like An Eagle
Wild Mountain Honey
Serenade
Dance Dance Dance
Mercury Blues
Take the Money and Run
Rock'n Me
You Send Me
Blue Odyssey
Sweet Maree
The Window

In which Steve Miller becomes an arena-filling space-rock guitar god on the title track, the Dallas outlaw ditty Take The Money And Run and deliberate crowd pleaser Rock’n Me, designed around Free’s All Right Now and premiered for a British audience when the Steve Miller band supported Pink Floyd at Knebworth in July ’75.

Operating as a trio, Steve Miller Band entered the phase where newfound fame caused old fans to believe Miller sold out, and anti-FM types to disparage him utterly. Haters gonna hate, but Miller took platinum sales to the bank. Joe Satriani loves this album. He’s right to do so.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Background

Fly Like An Eagle spawned three enormous hit singles (the title track, Take The Money And Run and Rock'n Me) and was awarded quadruple platinum status, but the success had been a long time coming. 

"I had been playing amplified music since 1956 and I had a really tight band," says Miller. "They [the San Francisco scene] just welcomed us with open arms, and I went right to work and added to the scene. We kept the Fillmore open. I had no idea it was that much. We were a real important part of keeping that scene going. I think we eventually played the Fillmore 102 times. Last time I played there they gave me a little list of all the times I played there, and I was shocked.

"It was very hard work. It was touring all the time; commercial flights everywhere, no private jets. Things were changing. [The success] started out in ’76 with Fly Like An Eagle. We were playing theatres then. Soon as that tour was over we turned around and did 15,000-seat arenas. And then as soon as that tour was over we turned around and started doing football stadiums. And there really wasn’t any glamour to this, it was just work, work, work."

Other albums released in May 1976

  • Rocks - Aerosmith
  • Rising - Rainbow
  • Warren Zevon - Warren Zevon
  • Agents of Fortune - Blue Öyster Cult
  • Balls of Fire - Black Oak Arkansas
  • Nine on a Ten Scale - Sammy Hagar
  • No Earthly Connection - Rick Wakeman
  • No Heavy Petting - UFO
  • The Royal Scam - Steely Dan
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination - The Alan Parsons Project

What they said...

"With his ninth studio release, Steve Miller struck commercial gold in the quadruple platinum selling 1976 album, Fly Like An Eagle. The music on the album moves through phases of psychedelic-folk, acid-blues, soul, blue grass and other types of roots genres, while the lyrical melodies and hooks help to maintain a pop-centric sensibility which results in a very accessible, catchy and easy listen throughout." (Classic Rock Review)

"The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits. It still can sound fairly dated -- those whooshing keyboards and cavernous echoes are certainly of their time -- but its essence hasn't aged" (AllMusic)

"Miller's eccentricity – James Cotton harp amid the Sam Cooke amid the technologised ditties – has no centre or even epicentre except for the pastoral anti-materialism so common among exurbanite rock tycoons. But in the end his borrowed hooks and woozy vocal charm are an irresistible formula. Finds good covers, too - Mercury Blues (copyright 1970 by K.C. Douglas, whoever he is) fits right in." (Robert Christgau)

What you said...

John Edgar: Released in the spring of 1976, just in time to take over the airwaves and car stereos of America for the summer of 1976. At the time of its initial release, it was rather tame for my normal taste, but it was oh so catchy, and it eventually earned a lot of listening room in my 17-year-old life, squeezed in between the likes of Ted Nugent, Grand Funk, Aerosmith and Nazareth. 

Mr. Miller himself tells the story about buying the synthesiser that had to be assembled, and then spending hours upon hours in the studio simply experimenting. Those experiments eventually became the intros and bridges for a multitude of songs. Steve Miller has stated many times that a break off of the road combined with the new instrument resulted in he and his band recording all the songs for Fly Like An Eagle and Book Of Dreams during the same sessions. They basically split the songs into two groups and released the two albums a year apart.

Matt Roy: Such a great album. Released in the mid-70s, it was a perfect escape from all of the disco crap being released at the time. It had unforgettable hooks, hits, psychedelia, blues, and rock. As a teen, I listened to this album over and over again. Rock ‘n Me, Take The Money And Run, and Fly Like An Eagle were FM radio staples that are still played with regular rotation on classic rock stations. Wild Mountain Honey displayed true space out psychedelic roots whilst Mercury Blues satisfies the appetite for pure blues. This album is a solid masterpiece front to back. Every time I hear it I just want to Dance, Dance, Dance!

Melanie Kyle: What a fantastic album! Every song is a gem. Including heavy synthesizer work along with the guitars Steve Miller managed to create a unique and addictive sound. The title track sounds a bit like Steve Miller of old while mixing in the newer sound. Wild Mountain Honey and Dance, Dance, Dance bring us a little folk and country, we get a fun cover of Mercury Blues and my personal favourite, the psychedelic The Window rounding it all back out to the band's 60s sensibilities. 

Graham Tarry: I love this album, and the follow up, Book Of Dreams. The synth links also add something special, also later found on the Italian X-Rays album. The quality of the songs and singing make it a wonderful sound. Unfortunately there a few lame tracks that stop it getting 'essential' status, but highly recommended.

Mike Knoop: Fly Like An Eagle is a friendly and likable album, if not exactly earth shattering. The "Big 3" are still instantly hummable, with Rock'n Me a windows-down summer anthem if ever there was one. I always laugh at how Steve Miller rhymes Texas with "Facts is" in Take the Money And Run. Slant rhyming at its best. 

The title track's laid back groove keep the dark lyrics from harshing the album's mellow, best witnessed on Wild Mountain Honey and the unabashed country of Dance Dance Dance. The two best surprises are the surging folk rock of Serenade and the fried boogie of Mercury Blues, which could pass for vintage ZZ Top. 

Really, the only thing that ages poorly is the guy trying to talk his girl into fooling around in the background of You Send Me. I'm sure it was intended as a humorous bit but doesn't fit well in these modern times. Not an essential album for me but absolutely enjoyable.

Erik Mooney: Step inside the mind of Steve Miller and you'll see a world Dr Seuss himself would call home. While some would see only chaos, fans of Steve Miller (and music in general) would see art. And that's exactly what Steve gave us with his 1976 album Fly Like An Eagle. With so many twists and turns you couldn't give a specific genre to place this album in. 

The opening riff to the title track could be described as blues, funk and/or rock rolled into one. While Incorporating soulful r&b bass and beats with some fantastic space rock keyboard that takes you on a journey even though you're laying back in a bean bag with your mind drifting away into the cosmos. He then gives us a country (almost bluegrass) inspired song titled Dance, Dance, Dance that John Denver could have easily had a hit with. It makes you want to get up and do exactly what the title says.

Take another turn and he gives us a southern driving rock anthem Take The Money And Run that you just cant help but clap along with. Other songs like Rock'n Me, Serenade, Wild Mountain Honey and Mercury Blues fill out this album nicely. making this an album that almost any musical taste will enjoy. All in all, this album would have to be in high rotation in everyones collection. I know it is in mine. A great recommendation to anyone into 70s style classic rock.

Bill Griffin: Released at the beginning of my second summer in California, this album has a lot of good memories associated with it. It also happens to be really, really good. There isn't a dud on it and all the songs appealed equally to the guys and gals in my circle of friends.

Jonathan Novajosky: Fly Like An Eagle is one of those popular songs on classic rock radio I could never get into. And that's how I feel about the whole album. The only song I somewhat enjoy is Take The Money And Run. I was hoping a couple of the deep cuts here would appeal to me, but songs like Dance, Dance, Dance, Sweet Maree, and The Widow all seemed like throwaways to me. Rock'n Me is another that gets constant radio play and I have no idea why. I don't hate this album, nor would I object to someone putting it on, but I wouldn't ever go back to it on my own. 5/10

Kathy Kerr Gonzalez: His voice is just so void of personality. Plus, while proficient as a guitarist, I don’t feel he really brings anything unique/new/creative to the music world.

John Davidson: This sort of music didn't pique my interest when I was 13, being neither heavy enough, nor proggy enough - and listening to it now it isn't bad album, but without the emotional resonance or nostalgia kick it simply doesn't have enough heft to make me want to listen to it again.

Solidly mainstream, American radio rock with touches of funk, folk. Americana and even some synths , the overall effect is as pleasant and inoffensive as that implies. No wonder punk happened so soon after.

Shane Reho: For the most part, this is a solid effort. It's not really anything special, but it's well worth a listen every now and then. The title track is the best thing here, even though radio has basically killed it. Wild Mountain Honey works, even though I'm not sure what wild mountain honey and money have to do with each other. 

Serenade and Mercury Blues are both great songs that never got the attention they deserve. Sadly what comes between them is a total waste of vinyl. Dance, Dance, Dance just sucks. Take The Money And Run and Rock'n Me are good songs with weak lyrics. 

You Send Me isn't bad, but it isn't that great either. Sweet Maree is good enough, probably could've been shorter. As far as instrumentals go, Space Intro and Blue Odyssey were more interesting than Maree's second half. The Window ties it all together well enough. All in all, better songwriting would've made this better, but as it is it's good enough to get a copy of. 8/10. Track picks: Fly Like an Eagle, Serenade, Mercury Blues.

Greg Post: This is truly a classic album, and a completely solid listen from beginning to end. I prefer listening to the whole album, rather than just the radio hits, and love the way the music flows. Look through the window. Tell me what do you see? A beautiful planet, peace and harmony. It's all good.

Carl Black: The first thing I heard was the sample used by Da LaSoul when they collaborated with Teenage Fanclub for the soundtrack for the film, Judgement Night. Not sure sure how many members are aware of that album, a few Im sure. If you are aware of the Judgement Night soundtrack you know the rest of the album is a bit "Agg". And the "Agg" is what I like, in fact the Steve Miller sample is my least favourite song on that album. Too mellow. 

Like, Fly like an Eagle. Far too relaxed and mellow. I kept wondering when was Steve going to give it a bit of Ooommmoff. He never does. The album just ambles along and wonders on, with no particular place to go. You've got a bit of rock/blues/hippy and some country & western thrown in. Sweet Maree is head and shoulders above everything else. I never felt like turning it off but ill not be listening again. 

Eddie Peuker: This album needs to be measured in light of the time of the release. Yeah, I had the 8-track. It was worn out but mostly because the airways were flooded with Disco discomforts. Sure, Fly Like An Eagle is powerful: it was the title track, it carried the Album. 1976 was a time of Mary Jane and disco entric beats flooding every thing, except this album. I almost bought a Mercury... my friend did. 

Rock'n Me has given me decades of general motivation. This album keeps on Rock'n Me. Short of the tunes I mentioned here, I am not sure i ever heard the end of any other tunes on the entire album. That says a lot. It's a 6.

Brian Carr: Years ago, I read the autobiography of Miles Davis and it forever shaded my opinion of Steve Miller. “...Steve Miller didn’t have shit going for him, so I’m pissed because I got to open for this non-playing motherf—-er just because he had one or two sorry-ass records out.” 

Now, to be fair, Miles probably would have had similar opinions of more than 50% of my music collection, but to me, those words were the equivalent of someone turning the light on after you went home with a less than attractive girl at the bar after a few too many. Miller’s music has been awful to me since. But for this group, I took the plunge. The title song is probably the most listenable song of his and at least you didn’t pick an album with the atrocious Swingtown or, even worse, Abracadabra.

Well, I made it through once. The title track is tolerable and Wild Mountain Honey is an ok, laid-back quaalude of a song, but then the lack of songwriting kicks in. I’ve read comparisons to John Denver and ZZ Top, but those artists have so much more soul than these hackish attempts at country and blues. 

Then we’re back into radio territory. Has anyone listened to the guitar work on Take The Money And Run? Ugh. Rock’n Me? Pass. But then something happened that aggravated every bone in this music lover’s body: someone had the genius idea to have him cover the great Sam Cooke’s You Send Me. When I heard that, I was pissed. There was zero chance at a positive review from me after that. 

Miller’s voice is less than skilled, his songwriting is less than good and the music itself often reminds me of a beginner getting new gear, plunking a sound out of it and turning it into a song. But, as Dennis Miller used to end his HBO shows, “that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.”

Final Score: 7.67 ⁄10 (276 votes cast, with a total score of 2117)

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