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Encore Performances: Living in a plastic land.

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Originally appeared on my old blog in October 2010.

Thoughts upon hearing the Steve Miller Band’s “Living In The U.S.A.” on the ride home:

— “Living In The U.S.A.” features roughly the same amount of cogent social commentary as “Party In The U.S.A.,” but scores significantly higher on the crucial Smith-Earland Hammond Organ Quotient, or SEHOQ.

(Here at the institute, we pronounce that “seahawk.”)

— Drummer Tim Davis (of Janesville, Wisconsin) was usually a solid contributor to the late-’60s Miller Band.

But he’s less than sharp here, landing a couple of fills off the beat — one of which makes the rest of the band stumble noticeably.

— Miller has long been known as a studio perfectionist.

But you wouldn’t know it from this song, which includes a couple of musical flubs (even a burst of mic feedback!) that detract not in the slightest from its momentum.

A live-in-the-studio recording, this?

— What’s so wrong with morticians?

I always thought they made an honest dollar.

— There’s a fine line between cool forced rhymes and poor forced rhymes.

For my money, “Everybody’s kickin’ sand / Even pol-i-tic-ians” lands on the cool side of the great divide.

— “Some-body get me a cheeseburger!” is a wonderful thing to yell at random at the climax of a hard-driving rock song.

— I think there was a brief period circa 1968 (after the Lovin’ Spoonful began to decline, and before the Dead, Creedence or Sly and the Family really got it together) when the Miller Band could have staked a credible claim to the title of America’s best rock’n’roll band.

They could play straightforward driving rock (“Living In The USA,” “Space Cowboy”); credible blues (most of Side 2 of “Children of the Future”); and Floydian reveries (“In My First Mind,” “Song For Our Ancestors.”)

Remember that flack-talk on the back of the “Sailor” album — something like, “They play straightforward rock’n’roll, but along the way, they make it sound majestic”?

I buy that, kinda.


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