Storied guitarist, singer-writer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Steve Miller’s milestone 3CD + DVD box set Welcome To The Vault is out now on Sailor/Capitol/UMe. It contains 52 tracks from Miller’s extensive archive of recordings over his six-decade career.
The collection, also available digitally, features a selection of his greatest hits with 38 previously unreleased recordings. These include demos, rehearsals, outtakes, vintage concert performances and five newly-uncovered original songs by the Steve Miller Band that were recorded in the 1960s and 1970s.
The DVD that accompanies the CD set gathers together 21 live performances, which embrace rare TV appearances and concert videos. Welcome To The Vault features a 100-page hardbound book of photographs, memorabilia and other artefacts from Miller’s own collection. The book contains an exclusive 9,000-word essay by the respected rock journalist David Fricke.
Welcome To The Vault was previewed today by a number of teaser tracks, including ‘Rock’n Me (Alternate Version 1).’ This is a different take of the rocking track that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the Steve Miller Band in 1976.
“Miller wrote ‘Rock’n Me’ with a different setting in mind,” writes Fricke in his notes. “He was still without a working band when the English prog-rock giants Pink Floyd asked him to be their special guest at a massive festival on July 5th, 1975 at Knebworth, England.
“Miller called Lonnie Turner, Les Dudek — a guitarist in Boz Scaggs’ band — and Doug Clifford, the former drummer in Creedence Clearwater Revival. They rehearsed for a single afternoon, working up a half-dozen R&B standards, a couple of Miller hits and a surprising debut, ‘The Window,’ an early version of which appears on Welcome To The Vault.
“’But I knew what was going to happen,’ Miller says. “‘The Floyd’ were gonna put me on at sunset. There won’t be any lights, and I’m just chum. I needed a song to rock the whole joint.’ Miller showed ‘Rock’n Me’ to the band at practice; they played it live for the first time in front of 100,000 people at Knebworth. ‘We closed with it, and it killed them,’ Miller says proudly.”
The box set opens with his earlier band line-up’s previously unreleased 10-minute cover of Little Walter’s ‘Blues With a Feeling,’ recorded in 1969 at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Going back even earlier, it also contains ‘Super Shuffle,’ recorded live at the band’s breakthrough appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967.
Other unreleased treats include an early version of ‘Going to Mexico,’ a solo acoustic ‘Kow Kow Calculator’ and ‘Seasons,’ recorded live in 1973. Furthermore, the title track from the hugely successful 1976 album Fly Like An Eagle is represented as a 12-minute work-in-progress suite. A recent big band reworking of another of the band’s 1970s smash hit singles, ‘Take the Money And Run,’ is also included. It co-stars fellow Texas guitar ace Jimmie Vaughan and was recorded live at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Centre. Miller is involved there as a performer, educator and curator focusing on blues music.
Miller’s unbreakable bond with the blues also runs through the box set in versions of songs by Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson and Otis Rush. We also hear his takes on Roy Acuff’s ‘Freight Train Blues,’ Mickey and Sylvia’s ‘Love Is Strange’ and a 1990 version of Jimmy Reed’s ‘I Wanna Be Loved.’ This was taped with Miller’s close musical ally and godfather, Les Paul, during the electric guitar pioneer’s long-running Monday night residency at Fat Tuesday’s in New York City.
The set concludes with two further unreleased gems, including Texas blues great T-Bone Walker performing his 1952 hit ‘Lollie Lou’ on a tape made the year before in the Miller family living room. It was recorded by Steve’s father George, who was a passionate jazz and blues fan and home recording enthusiast. To finish with, more than 60 years later, Miller himself performs ‘Lollie Lou’ at the 2016 tribute concert he curated, T-Bone Walker: A Bridge from Blues to Jazz, at Jazz at Lincoln Centre.
The Welcome To The Vault DVD includes rare Monterey Pop footage from 1967, a performance at Fillmore West filmed by Dutch TV in 1970 and a 1973 concert at New York’s Palace Theatre running 43 minutes, broadcast on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert but unseen since the 1970s. There’s also an ABC In Concert workout with James Cotton from 1974, ‘Abracadabra’ as played at Michigan’s Pine Knob from that 1982 album tour and selections from Austin City Limits in 2011. Miller’s previously mentioned, intimate 1990 performance with Les Paul at Fat Tuesday’s is also included.
In the summer, the present-day Steve Miller Band concluded a 36-city US tour with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives. Miller billed it as “An Amazing Evening of Original American Music — Classic Rock Meets Classic Country.” The itinerary began on 13 June in Des Moines, Iowa and concluded with two-night finale in Woodinville, WA on 30 and 31 August.
Welcome To The Vault is out now. Scroll down to read the full tracklisting, and buy it here.
1. Blues with a Feeling (Live) (1969) *
2. Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around – Alternate Version (1969) *
3. Super Shuffle (Live) (1967) **
4. It Hurts Me Too (Feat. Steve Miller Band) (Live) (1967)
5. Industrial Military Complex Hex – Alternate Version (1970) *
6. Living in the USA (1968)
7. Kow Kow Calculator – Alternate Version (1973) *
8. Going to Mexico – Alternate Version (1966) *
9. Quicksilver Girl – Alternate Version (1968) *
10. Jackson-Kent Blues – Alternate Version (1970) *
11. Crossroads (Live) (1973) *
12. Hesitation Blues (1972) **
13. Seasons – Alternate Version (1973) *
14. Say Wow! (1973) **
15. Never Kill Another Man – Alternate Version (Live) (1971) *
1. The Gangster is Back (Live) (1971)
2. Space Cowboy – Instrumental Version (1969) *
3. Space Cowboy – Alternate Version (Live) (1973) *
4. The Joker (1973)
5. The Lovin’ Cup (1973)
6. Killing Floor (1975) *
7. Evil (Live) (1973)
8. Echoplex Blues (1973) **
9. Rock’n Me – Alternate Version 1 (1976) *
10. Rock’n Me – Alternate Version 2 (1976) *
11. Tain’t it the Truth (1976) *
12. Freight Train Blues (1976) *
13. True Fine Love – Alternate Version (1975) *
14. The Stake – Alternate Version (1976) *
15. My Babe – Alternate Version (1982) *
16. That’s the Way It’s Got to Be (1974) **
17. Double Trouble (1992) *
18. Love is Strange (1974) *
19. All Your Love (I Miss Loving) – Alternate Version (1992) *
1. I Wanna Be Loved (Live) (1990) *
2. Fly Like an Eagle – Alternate Version (1974) *
3. Space Intro (1976)
4. Fly Like an Eagle (1976)
5. The Window – Alternate Version (1974) *
6. Mercury Blues – Alternate Version (1975) *
7. Jet Airliner – Alternate Version (1976) *
8. Take the Money and Run (1976)
9. Dance, Dance, Dance (1976)
10. Swingtown – Alternate Version (1976) *
11. Winter Time (1977)
12. Who Do You Love? (1984)
13. Abracadabra (1982)
14. Macho City – Short Version (1981)
15. Take the Money and Run – Alternate Version (Live) (2016) *
16. Bizzy’s Blue Tango* (2004)
17. Lollie Lou (T-Bone Walker) (Live) (1951) *
18. Lollie Lou (Steve Miller) (Live) (2016) *
* PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED RECORDING
** PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED SONG
Monterey International Pop Festival – 1967
– Mercury Blues
– Super Shuffle
The Fillmore West – Dutch TV Show El Dorado (Pik-In) – 1970
– Kow Kow Calculator
– Space Cowboy
Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert – 1973
– Star Spangled Banner
– Living in the USA
– Space Cowboy
– Mary Lou
– Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma
– The Gangster is Back
– The Joker
– Come on in My Kitchen
– Fly Like an Eagle
– Living in the USA (Reprise)
ABC In Concert with James Cotton – 1974
– Just a Little Bit
Pine Knob, Michigan – 1982
Steve Miller and Les Paul at Fat Tuesday’s – 1990
– I Wanna be Loved
– CC Rider
Live from Austin City Limits – 2011
– Fly Like an Eagle
– Living in the USA