Monday, 11 April 2016

"MY DARK HOUR" 1969 TRACK FOR STEVE MILLER BAND

 The closing track from the Steve Miller Band’s third album, ‘Brave New World,’ ‘My Dark Hour’ finds him working at an altogether sweatier pitch than casual listeners might expect; although it incorporates the same basic ingredients as many of Miller’s other songs, it’s distinguished by a woozy lead guitar riff (later recycled for ‘Fly Like an Eagle’), a propulsive backbeat (delivered by some positively volcanic drums), and screaming background vocals.

It’s those drums and vocals that add a particularly interesting footnote to ‘My Dark Hour,’ because they — along with the bass — were performed by a moonlighting Paul, blowing off some steam after a particularly rough day in the studio with the Beatles on May 9, 1969. “There was a big argument and they all went, leaving me at the studio,” Paul recalled during an interview segment for the ‘Anthology’ documentary. “Steve Miller happened to be around: ‘Hi, how you doing? Is the studio free?’ I said: ‘Well, it looks like it is now, mate.’ He said: ‘Mind if I use it?’ So I ended up drumming on a track of his that night…. I had to do something, thrash something, to get it out of my system.”


 
 
Paul (who provided his ‘My Dark Hour’ contributions under the pseudonym ‘Paul Ramon’) added a few further details in an interview for Barry Miles’ book ‘Many Years from Now,’ recalling, “I thrashed everything out on the drums. There’s a surfeit of aggressive drum fills, that’s all I can say about that. We stayed up until late. I played bass, guitar and drums and sang backing vocals. It’s actually a pretty good track. It was a very strange time in my life and I swear I got my first grey hairs that month. I saw them appearing. I looked in the mirror, I thought, ‘I can see you. You’re all coming now. Welcome.'”

As Paul modestly noted, ‘My Dark Hour’ is a pretty good track; in fact, it’s tempting to imagine the path Miller might have followed if it had been a hit. The song is a basic blues strutter, sure, and one whose lyrics are basically just there to prop up the arrangement.
 
Paul co-wrote and played on a 1969 Steve Miller track called “My Dark Hour.”
Produced by Glyn Johns, “My Dark Hour” came about when Johns happened into the studio right after a big fight among the Beatles. The subject was Allen Klein, who Paul didn’t want mixed up in their business. But John did, and had convinced George and Ringo to let Klein be their manager.
 

When Johns arrived, the others (including Klein) had left. Paul was fuming. He told bis friend and biographer Barry Miles:
Steve Miller happened to be there recording, late at night, and he just breezed in. ‘Hey, what’s happening, man? Can I use the studio?’ ‘Yeah!’ I said. ‘Can I drum for you? I just had a fucking unholy argument with the guys there.’ I explained it to him, took ten minutes to get it off my chest. So I did a track, he and I stayed that night and did a track of his called My Dark Hour. I thrashed everything out on the drums. There’s a surfeit of aggressive drum fills, that’s all I can say about that. We stayed up until late. I played bass, guitar and drums and sang backing vocals. It’s actually a pretty good track.

The song sounds a lot like would become “Fly Like An Eagle” about six years later. It also sounds a lot like would become Wings type music in the interim. This is the kind of thing that should be on a Paul historical box set.

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