By the time the prolific Miller set up shop to record 1969’s Brave New World, the line-up had been slimmed down. Scaggs and Peterman had departed as 1968 came to a close, but Miller welcomed some very special guests to the new album: returning friend and Miller’s sometimes co-writer Ben Sidran (who had played on Children of the Future), Nicky Hopkins, and Paul Ramon, a.k.a. Paul McCartney!
Though the songs are tighter and a bit more pop-oriented than on the first two LPs, Miller’s blazing guitar rocked harder than before, and the album’s songs were the group’s most consistent yet. Produced by Glyn Johns in Hollywood in the midst of his work on The Beatles’ Get Back, Brave New World offered group harmonies on Miller’s optimistic, catchy title track (originally written for an abortive sci-fi concept album; also see the album’s “Space Cowboy”) and Miller and Sidran’s “Celebration Song,” with its “Sha-la-la” refrain. Their “Seasons” is also one of Miller’s loveliest pieces of music.
Tim Davis’ breakneck “Hey Baby, Can You Hear Your Daddy’s Heartbeat” is Hendrix-style blues-rock, while the band went back to basics on the bluesy riffs of “Got Love ‘Cause You Need It” and Lonnie Turner’s “LT’s Midnight Dream.” Nicky Hopkins’ glistening piano chords added a new dimension to the group’s sound on “Kow Kow,” with a familiar-sounding Miller melody set to an absurdist lyric.
McCartney played bass and drums and sang background vocals on the album closer, the rousing and raucous “My Dark Hour.” Synthesizing blues, rock, pop and psychedelic soul influences into one cohesive LP, Brave New World augured for the band’s more commercial future.
by Joe Marchese
1. Brave New World (Steve Miller) – 3:27
2. Celebration Song (Miller, Ben Sidran) – 2:33
3. Can't You Hear Your Daddy's Heartbeat (Tim Davis) – 2:30
4. Got Love 'Cause You Need It (Miller, Sidran) – 2:28
5. Kow Kow (Miller) – 4:28
6. Seasons (Miller, Sidran) – 3:50
7. Space Cowboy (Miller, Sidran) – 4:55
8. Lt's Midnight Dream (Lonnie Turner) – 2:33
9. My Dark Hour (Miller) – 3:07
The Steve Miller Band
*Steve Miller – Guitar, Harmonica, Lead Vocals
*Glyn Johns – Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
*Lonnie Turner – Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
*Ben Sidran – Keyboards
*Tim Davis – Drums, Vocals
*Nicky Hopkins – Piano
*Paul McCartney (as "Paul Ramon") – Drums, Bass, Vocals