Monday, February 11, 2013

"Abracadabra" by Steve Miller Band (1982)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

"Bet our love until you lose, then give back what you've been stealing."

Key Tracks: Abracadbra, Give It Up

Surprise Gem: Young Girl's Heart

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses: While I'm Waiting

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Growing up without cable or a decent radio station, some of my earliest exposure to new music came at our local skating rink.  (It also provided my exposure to forgotten video game gold - Kangaroo.)  That's where I was first creeped out by the video to Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me as it was projected onto a wall in the corner of the rink.  That's where I developed PTSD from a seemingly endless loop of Chubby Checker's Limbo Rock as scores of children careened onto their butts.  That's where I first heard Prince and Madonna.  That's where I learned to hate the hokey pokey.  Seriously, who ever thought the hokey pokey on rollerskates was a good idea?!

And that's my strongest memory of Steve Miller's Abracadbra.  Turns out, it's a really good song to skate to.  I guess it's that little chorus of "round and round."  Funny thing though, Ratt never caught on there.  Abracadbra played every weekend I was there for at least two years.  And it never got old.  It's just a fun song, even if never mentioned black panties... which it totally does.

Long story short, I really liked the song.  But, popular music being just that, it dropped out of circulation and out of my mind.


Stupid Sugar Ray.  I don't even have anything against Sugar Ray in particular.  I mean, they weren't great or even pretty good, they were just kind of there.  But they had to go and do something that I didn't understand at all so I will call it stupid.  They made an almost note-for-note remake of Abracdabra.  There was nothing new, no interpretation, nothing.  Just a "hey kids, this is a song from when we were kids and you may not have heard it and we didn't feel like writing another track, so here ya go!"  Total cop out.

To contrast, their version came out right after one of the most left-turn, devisive covers of the time.  I am speaking of course of Alien Ant Farm's post-punk rendition of Smooth Criminal.  Whether you loved that song or hated it (I was in both camps), you took notice when it came out.

So, my question is: why Sugar Ray?  You certainly didn't make any money off of it, and Steve Miller didn't need the money.  Why couldn't you just have like worn a Steve Miller shirt onstage or dropped his name in some interview?  Ugh.  But anyway, I really liked the song... the first go around.  And Mark McGrath is still paying pennance on Extra.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  Even though Steve Miller only wrote two songs on "Abracadbra," and they stand head and shoulders above almost everything else, everything still sounds distinctly Steve Miller.

Up next... whoa.  This was the hundredth LP.  My yearlong experiment is over.  So, up next we have the results and conclusions.  And after that... remains to be seen.

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