"The Joker" turned 40 last year, but the Steve Miller Band is celebrating the anniversary today (May 16) with the digital release of "The Joker Live," a set of new recordings of every song on the album.
Miller tells us the impetus for the project has been the way the current incarnation of the group has been playing the songs in concert during recent years:
"We took all the songs form 'The Joker,' reworked them. We've been touring that just recently, and...It's a great record. It's really a live, it's live performance and we love it and we decided not to give it to a record company and we're putting it out and we're gonna sell it ourselves at our concerts. It doesn't make any difference whether Capitol Records or EMI puts it out or Universal or we do."
Miller adds that "The Joker" -- which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum, while the title track was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- was more important to his career than many fans realize:
"When I was recording 'The Joker' I thought my career was over, and it was my seventh album for Capitol Records and they had pretty much moved on from my world, and so I really was just doing what I wanted to do. And the thing about 'The Joker' was it had to be really, really relaxed, y'know? And the temptation when you go into the studio is to do something that's really hard and really heavy, but I was just at this point that...I remember being in the studio with the band going on, 'No, no, no. this is a big, fat, lazy space,' and so that was what I think made the song work."
Miller is most definitely playing "The Joker" and other songs from the album during his summer tour with Journey and Tower of Power, which started this week and runs through August 1 in Las Vegas.