I don't think you can find anyone in this country who owns a radio and doesn't recognize "The Joker." I find the continued airplay and commercial success of this song kind of funny. I watch people half my age (mind you, I'm not very old myself) singing along with the title track from Miller's classic album, and I know perfectly well they are missing out on all of allusions buried in it. I mean, how many people have every actually heard Brave New World's "Space Cowboy?" And forget about your typical younger listener actually knowing about "Gangster of Love" from Sailor. That's as likely as being able to find "pompetous" in the dictionary (no luck with my spell checker, either). There's a line in the sand of Steve Miller's career drawn right through 1973. The Joker was a breakthrough album, and JVC has released a version of it remastered with their XRCD process that lets you hear further into that transitional period than ever before.
I have no idea when my other CD copy of The Joker [Capitol CDP 594445] was released. I think it's a fairly recent disc, as it sports the logo "digitally remastered by Larry Walsh at Capitol Recording Studios" on it, which typically denotes newer releases. I never really listened to it very much because it sounded like your typical crummy 1973 recording.
"Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash"
Overall, I'm quite fond of the XRCD version of The Joker. There are notable improvements throughout the disc, with no real down side. It is a little tough justifying the price tag for 36:20 worth of music -- unless your cash really is trash. JVC gives you the same minimal liner notes as the regular disc, so there's no big win there. While I'm still down on the XRCD cardboard packaging, it does have one notable feature: When drop it on the floor, it doesn't have any plastic tabs that break off. There's something to be said for that. While it's not likely to become your favorite audiophile reference disc anytime soon, JVC's The Joker is fun for fans of all ages -- whether you catch all the references or not.
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