If you are beginning blues guitar lessons this is a great album to learn off. Its called The Joker which is the eighth album by Steve Miller Band, released in 1973. Its not traditional blues but it does have many blues elements of modern blues. The album marked a period of significant change for the group as the band abandoned their psychedelic oriented music for a more melodic, smooth rock/blues sound. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was also their first solid commercial success due to the strong radio-play of the title track. The title track took 19 days to record. The album reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified Platinum in the United States.
The artwork of the album is also considered amongst the greatest; for example Rolling Stone would later rank it as one of the “Top 100 Album Covers Of All Time”.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic rated The Joker three out of five stars, calling it “all bright and fun, occasionally truly silly” and great for beginning blues guitar lessons. He also stated that it “isn’t mind-expanding”, but concluded by saying that it “nevertheless maintains its good-time vibe so well that it’s hard not to smile along…provided you’re on the same wavelength as Miller, of course.”
AllMusic was launched as All Music Guide by Michael Erlewine, a “compulsive archivist, noted astrologer, Buddhist scholar and musician.” He became interested in using computers for his astrological work in the mid-’70s, and founded a software company, Matrix, in 1977. In the early ’90s, as CDs replaced vinyl as the prevalent format for recorded music, Erlewine purchased what he thought was a CD of early recordings by Little Richard. After buying it, he discovered it was a “flaccid latter-day rehash.” Frustrated with the labeling, he researched using meta data to create a music guide. In 1990, in Big Rapids, Michigan, he founded All Music Guide with a goal to create an open access database that included every recording “since Enrico Caruso gave the industry its first big boost”.
The first All Music Guide was a 1,200-page reference book, packaged with a CD-ROM, titled All Music Guide: The Best CDs, Albums & Tapes: The Expert’s Guide to the Best Releases from Thousands of Artists in All Types of Music. Its first digital iteration, in 1991, was a text-based Gopher site. It moved to the World Wide Web as web browsers became more user-friendly.
Erlewine hired a database engineer, Vladimir Bogdanov, to design the All Music Guide framework, and recruited his nephew, writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine, to develop editorial content. In 1993, Chris Woodstra joined the staff as an engineer. A “record geek” who had written for alternative weeklies and fanzines, his main qualification was an “encyclopedic knowledge of music”. 1400 subgenres of music were created, a feature which became central to the site’s utility. In a 2016 article in Tedium, Ernie Smith wrote:
“AllMusic may have been one of most ambitious sites of the early-internet era—and it’s one that is fundamental to our understanding of pop culture and beginning blues guitar lessons. Because, the thing is, it doesn’t just track reviews or albums. It tracks styles, genres, and subgenres, along with the tone of the music and the platforms on which the music is sold. It then connects that data together, in a way that can intelligently tell you about an entire type of music, whether a massive genre like classical, or a tiny one like sadcore.”
In 1996, seeking to further develop its web-based businesses, Alliance Entertainment Corp. bought All Music from Erlewine for a reported $3.5 million. He left the company after its sale. Alliance filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and its assets were acquired by Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Equity Fund.
In 1999, All Music relocated from Big Rapids to Ann Arbor, where the staff expanded from 12 to 100 people. By February of that year, 350,000 albums and 2 million tracks had been cataloged. All Music had published biographies of 30,000 artists, 120,000 record reviews and 300 essays written by “a hybrid of historians, critics and passionate collectors”.
In late 2007, AllMusic was purchased for $72 million by TiVo Corporation (known as Macrovision at the time of the sale, and as Rovi from 2009 until 2016).
In 2015, AllMusic was purchased by BlinkX
Four tracks from the album were released as singles: “The Joker” (1973), “Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ but Trash” (1974), , “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” (1974) and “Evil” (1975).
Released on Capitol Quadraphonic 8-track tape. All beginning blues guitar lessons should start with this legend of blues rock. The Quadraphonic 8-track tape of this album features an extended (4:11) unedited version of “The Joker” and also features studio talk before “Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash”. The studio talk information is also present on the standard vinyl release.
Near the end of the song “Lovin’ Cup”, someone can be heard saying “Last….Last verse”. This is very noticeable on the Quadraphonic 8-track tape. According to an email from stevemillerband.com, it was Lonnie Turner the bassist.
“Sugar Babe” (Steve Miller) – 4:35
“Mary Lou” (Obie Jessie, Sam Ling) – 2:24
“Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” (Miller) – 5:41
“Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ but Trash” (Chuck Calhoun) – 3:21
“The Joker” (Miller, Eddie Curtis, Ahmet Ertegün) – 4:26
“The Lovin’ Cup” (Miller) – 2:10
“Come On in My Kitchen” (live at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia) (Robert Johnson) – 4:06
“Evil” (live) (Miller) – 4:35
“Something to Believe In” (Miller) – 4:41
Steve Miller – guitar, vocals, harmonica
Gerald Johnson – bass guitar (all but 8), vocals
Dick Thompson – organ, clavinet
John King – drums
Lonnie Turner – bass guitar (8)
“Sneaky” Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar (9)
John Van Hamersveld and Norman Seeff – album cover design
Norman Seeff – photography
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