Steve Miller Band Box Set Chronicles the Making of ‘The Joker’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Steve Miller Band will mark the 50th anniversary of its landmark 1973 album “The Joker” with a box set that will be released Sept. 15.

“J50: The Evolution of The Joker” will shed light on Miller’s artistic process as he developed a style that would lead to a cascade of radio hits in the 1970s and ’80s.

But before the box set becomes available, the Steve Miller Band will return to Youngstown for a Wednesday, Aug. 9, concert at The Amp. Tickets start at $38 (plus fees); click HERE.

Miller curated “J50,” which takes a deep dive into the writing and assembling of “The Joker.”

The box set amplifies the album’s enduring appeal by chronologically placing the original album tracks alongside 27 previously unreleased recordings from Miller’s personal archive. These songs include tapes Miller made in hotel rooms while on the road and at live performances.

The box set also includes studio outtakes and rehearsals, as well as six audio commentary tracks from Miller and exclusive liner notes from both Miller and journalist Anthony DeCurtis. 

“J50: The Evolution of The Joker” (Universal) can be purchased as two CDs; three vinyl albums plus a 7-inch single; or as a digital download. The vinyl version also includes a reproduction of a vintage The Joker iron-on and limited-edition lithograph.

“J50” is highlighted by “The Joker Suite,” an extended piece showcasing the musical path to the album’s hit title track, along with the previously unreleased “Lidi” and “Travelin’.”

Released in October 1973, “The Joker” quickly became a hit in the United States, crossing over from FM underground radio to the AM pop radio that was popular in that era.

The song went to No. 1, first in the United States and then the rest of the world.

The “J50” box set begins with acoustic live renditions of “Children of the Future,” “Brave New World” and “Space Cowboy,” recorded in 1972.

Miller had long nurtured his audience with constant touring, routinely visiting hundreds of cities each year.

In July 1973, the band hit Capitol Record’s Studio B in Los Angeles and recorded, mixed and mastered the album in just 17 days, with Miller producing.

“The most important rule that every kid out there who wants to make a record should remember is: When you go into the studio, be ready to do the whole performance the first time you do it, because that’s going to be the best time you do it,” Miller says. “The whole thing is to capture the first performance. That’s a lot of what ‘The Joker’s’ about. It was all first takes, and first takes are always better than perfect takes.”

In addition to “The Joker,” the Steve Miller Band’s list of hits includes “Your Cash Ain’t Nothing But Trash,” “Jet Airliner,” “Living in the USA,” “Rock’n Me,” “Space Cowboy,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Wild Mountain Honey,” “Swingtown,” “Abracadabra” and “Jungle Love.”

Pictured at top: Steve Miller will return to Youngstown on Aug. 9 for a concert at The Amp. (Photo by Watt Casey Jr.)

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