Steve Miller had become a superstar during the last half of the 1970s when his Book Of Dreams and Fly Like An Eagle albums each sold millions of copies and then topped it off when his Greatest Hits 1974-1978 began its journey toward becoming one of the 50 biggest selling albums in United States history. That success came to a halt with his 1981 release, Circle Of Love. In order to regain his commercial momentum, he hurried back into the studio to record some new music.
Abracadabra was an attempt to return to the smooth pop/rock of his 1970s hit albums. It may not have had the consistent high quality of his more popular releases but there were some memorable songs. As stand-alone tracks, many of the songs were enjoyable but they did not fit together well, giving the album a disjointed feel. In the final analysis, it was a release where the individual parts were better than the whole.
I don’t know if Miller had a writer’s block but the well was a little dry as he only wrote two of the 10 tracks. Band members Gary Mallaber, John Massare, and Kenny Lewis co-wrote the other eight in various combinations.
One of the songs Miller did contribute was the title track, which became one of his career-defining performances. It was catchy and remained in your mind. It became the last number one pop hit of his career. His other song was “Give It Up,” which had a slower tempo and was not as memorable.
There really was not anything terrible but on the other hand, there was nothing of lasting substance either. “Keep Me Wondering Why” was a nice, if light rocker. “Things I Told You” was the band’s attempt to move in a new wave direction that was in vogue at the time. “Goodbye Love” had a little country flavor stirred into the mix. “While I’m Waiting” was a slower acoustic piece that probably should not have closed the album. The strongest track was “Cool Magic,” which returned Miller to his strengths with a strong melody and smooth vocal.
Abracadabra was enjoyable but not The Steve Miller Band at their best. It did achieve the goal of producing a commercially successful album as it reached platinum status. If you want the pop-oriented Steve Miller at his most creative, then any of his late 1970s releases are preferable. Abracadabra is an album that filled in the gaps.