Change was in the air for The Steve Miller Band as keyboardist Jim Peterman and guitarist Boz Scaggs had departed. Keyboardist Ben Sidran was selected to join holdovers Miller, bassist Lonnie Turner, and drummer Tim Davis. Sidran was a good addition as he would co-write four of the nine tracks with Miller. Producer Glyns Johns filled in on guitar and provided some backing vocals. As an example of the band’s burgeoning popularity, Nicky Hopkins and Paul McCartney each appeared on one track.
Despite the changes, they released their third excellent album in a row. Brave New World was very representative of the late 1960s. It had a summer of love and anti-war vibe. It was a fine fit for the growing hippie culture of the day as it explored peace as the Vietnam War was expanding.
From the opening crescendo of the title track, the music was a call to the young people of the country to unite. Both “Brave New World” and “Celebration Song” are up-beat explorations that found Miller fusing the psychedelic music of his present with the pop leanings of his future.
The center of the album contains a trio of songs that are equal to any Miller would produce. “Kow Kow (Calqulator)” is an anti-war or peace song that features some of Miller’s better guitar work plus pianist Hopkins filling in the gaps. The production is also impeccable as the sound has a layered feel. “Seasons” is a gentle acoustic ballad that contains a nice echo sound. “Space Cowboy” is the quintessential Miller song that was cool in 1969 and remains cool today.
The last track, “My Dark Hour,” features Paul McCartney (billed as Paul Ramon) on bass, drums, and backing vocals. His bass work is actually very creative on this track and would have fit in nicely on Fly Like An Eagle.
Brave New World is very cohesive as the songs fit together well. The music may not have been as creative or surprising as their first two albums but it was an easier listen. It remains an album worth revisiting.
Article first published as Music Review: Steve Miller Band – Brave New World on Blogcritics.