By Jack Sharkey, January 26, 2017

At first glance this might seem like a kind of unnecessary waste of precious blogging space. Of 2,500,000 

people polled, 2,499,993 have heard The Joker by the Steve Miller Band on average 14,000 times over their lifetimes.


We all know the riff, we all know the teenaged lasciviousness. Most of us know “pompatus” was Miller’s mis-hearing of Vernon Green’s lyric to The Letter in which he referred to puppetutes, an erotic paper doll.


But have we heard the song so many times, through so many lowest-common-denominator sound systems that the simple beauty of the production is taken for granted? Possibly. That’s why we’ll deconstruct a classic from the Classic Rock Era.


Instrumentally there’s not a lot to the production. Miller has always been the master of simplicity along with a career-long fascination with Steve Millersound effects, synthesizers and out-of-nowhere guitar parts that work perfectly. The Joker is built around an infinitely recognizable and amazingly simple riff (aren’t all great pop songs written around such things?). The bass has a nice mid-range and bottom end. The drums are thin in that regrettable 70s style – not quite paper plate quality, but they’re seriously lacking any attack or decay. Overall, the recording is very dry without a lot of effect, except for the lead/slide guitar which has a very subtle wah effect and quite a bit of reverb, phasing and panning between the left and right channels. The slide exists in the left/center but there are several components to the sound that pan far to the right.


Take a couple of listens to this old classic and re-introduce yourself to a timeless production that serves the simple virtuosity of the musicians – it’ll be like connecting with an old friend.


Steve Miller Band The Joker



This deconstruction was done with a pair of active LS50 speakers and a VPI Scout turntable, using the original 1973 vinyl pressing.