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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Steve Miller Band

Live From Chicago (Coming Home Media)

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Think the Steve Miller Band doesn’t matter anymore? Try telling that to the generations of smiling fans who packed the sold-out Ravinia Amphitheater in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park for two nights last July.

  Captured with 17 cameras in 5.1 surround sound, those gigs anchor Live From Chicago, a three-disc set that proves the Milwaukee native (who turns 65 in October) hasn’t lost his knack for blurring rock, pop, blues and jazz. Songs heard countless times over the past 40 years take on new sharpness when performed by Miller’s veteran, five-man, jam-happy band; classics such as “Serenade,” “Rock’N Me” and “The Stake” work particularly well. Miller also digs deep into his catalog for 1973’s “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma,” re-energizes “Fly Like An Eagle” with a catchy rap groove and indulges in Robert Johnson, Otis Rush and Jimmy Vaughan covers. Through it all, he barely breaks a sweat, looking like a portly middle-aged neighbor who plays it cool by hosting weekend barbecues.

  In keeping with Miller’s blues heritage, the second DVD features a discussion of his Chicago-blues days, and a CD boasts a dozen songs from the Chicago show. The running order varies from the DVD, but it’s the first fresh (albeit live) material Miller has released in years.

  The Steve Miller Band will perform June 29 at the Marcus Amphitheater at Summerfest.