Steve Miller's "The Joker" marked the high point of his career; the song that is, not the album. The strong hook, melodic guitar solo and clever lyrics made the song a smash hit and one of the best-ever "classic rock" tunes. Miller would parlay the song's winning formula into two excellent mid-70s albums, "Fly Like an Eagle," and "Book of Dreams," but that was in the future. "The Joker," the album, bears the mark of an artist still struggling to find a consistent groove.
Stylistically, the opening track "Sugar Babe" and the goofy "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma," are closest to the hit in terms of style. Much of the rest of the album focuses on mid-tempo blues numbers, including the cover tracks "Mary Lou," "Your Cash Ain't Nothing but Trash" and "Come On In My Kitchen" and his own "Evil." Miller may have had a lifelong love affair with the blues, but he's no Eric Clapton when it comes to interpreting this form of music. Miller is best when he stays closer to rock and roll, as on the sweet album-closing "Something to Believe In."
Overall, an uneven album that contains some soaring high points, including its mega-successful title track.