The cool attitude of the track along with its studious organ and sitar solos makes it a perennial best-of selection. The similarity indicates that either a) Steely Dan were ahead of their time in the 70s, b) that Two Against Nature is shamelessly retro, or c) that the Becker/Fagen aesthetic is so unique as to be timeless. But there is one good thing about Steely Dan fanboys and girls, they get so buthurt and angry when you call it like it is…Steely Dan is fucking lame, and they reflect your lame tastes. I would love to discuss the band. Throw Back the Little Ones: An aura of small-time menace runs through this portrait of a con artist. The other favorite Josie has a relaxed funk backdrop and enlightened chord movement. All rights reserved. But whatâs overlooked is just how well they told a story, the way they created characters and scenarios not unlike, yes, Lou Reed did with some of his most famous Velvet Underground songs. When I first got into Steely Dan back in the early 1990s, Katy Lied was my least favorite record because it seemed so, well, adult and wimpy, but I grew into it. Most of their works seem to grow from the middle out rather than the top down.) Take The Last Mall, a neo-blues about spree shopping in the face of armageddon. Given Homer’s age you can easily ass… The record hits middle age just when all of us are reduced to our barebones selves. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. 1977. 2003, Another Tanqueray / Ill wait til twenty past. King of the World: Like Razor Boy, this track blends disparate elements, and much of the surface activity sounds dated, like the wah guitar, Echoplex, and game-show synthesizer. Yet I wonder now if he even listened to the songs on Gaucho, an album which turns 40 this month and the record that made me understand just how great Walter Becker and Donald Fagen truly were.Â Many of the songs could have very well been about a guy in his exact situation. Walter Becker starts to play six-string in addition to his bass duties, and even though Jim Hodder is still officially a band member, Jim Gordon does most of the drumming on the album. But for now, we’re all sort of boring and uncool. Each one of their tracks is its own work of art. It presents a volte-face for Becker and Fagen in that essentially the same personnel appears on every track, a practice they abandoned back during the Nixon administration. Steely Dan is outstanding on vinyl and CD, but in concert it's not the same sound. I really like Steely Dan. Spearheaded by keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker, the duo assembled many of the best studio musicians to bring their musical ideas to life. Kid Charlemagne Rose Darling: Theres more than just sneaky lovers to this weirdly endearing story, not that I have a clue as to what it might be. Peg A lot of millennials were force-fed Steely Dan during childhood, which explains why we hated the stuff: Steely Dan is not for kids. Per usual, Becker and Fagen hire a parade of sessioneers to complement their own instrumental contributions. Is it the actual music, like the piano or guitar or whatever instrument is leading the pack? The radio hit Hey Nineteen follows, decorated by Hugh McCracken guitar and a Fagen synth solo. The recording aims for crystal clarity, although there were apparently problems with the original mastering (or noise reduction) equipment, leaving the album with a slightly thin sound and a crash cymbal that sounds like a sneeze. Iâve spent years asking myself this. You?? Far from being faceless studio hacks, the sessioneers all play with a personal feel that benefits each song. Blending elements of rock, jazz, latin music, R&B, blues and sophisticated studio production with cryptic and ironic lyrics, the band enjoyed critical and commercial success starting from the early 1970s until breaking up in 1981. (What an attractive voice she has.) Like Billy Joel, another famously disliked famous songwriter who found fame in the 1970s, trashing Steely Dan is practically a sport. The dark immigrant tale Royal Scam milks a hesitant vamp under scattered horn dialogue, releasing suspense in a majestic title refrain. If youre looking for a one-shot summation of Steely Dans brilliance, go to the title track Aja. Steely Dan refers to "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," a strap-on dildo from the novel The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. So the distinction that this 1993 collection is … Pearl of the Quarter: A gentle, country-ish aside to a lady of Louisiana. What does the name "Steely Dan" really mean? Electric piano powers the track and Becker provides raunchy guitar leads. 1974. As a former producer, I would get to a point where I had heard a mix so many ways that it all started to run together to me, and I had a hard time finding the 'best' mix. 1973, There aint nothing in Chicago for a monkey woman to do. Do It Again is the clear highlight, a Latin-ish number whose pervasive minor tone underlines the determinism of its three lyrical vignettes. What I have in common with all of these guys is that I, too, have a fanatical love of The Dan. With the leadoff Kid Charlemagne, the Dan becomes stronger and funkier than ever before. Thread Status: Not open for further replies. Glamour Profession looks at an omnipresent drug dealer, set to an insistent disco beat and swimming in a pool of heady voicings. I say the answer is (c), with the caveat that this album has more poise than substance. A song like Pixeleen exemplifies the Dan at their best; this funny ode to a digital heroine is rendered with all the sophistication of an oldie like Glamour Profession and has an extra hook in Carolyn Leonharts support vocal. Watching video of Steely Dan in the studio and reading stories of their recording obsession is simply mindblowing. It all sounds sad, but if you got to ride around with this guy in his Porsche, youâd think the opposite. Aja Steely Dan's "Gaucho" turns 40 in 2020. Cant Buy a Thrill I say the answer is (c), with the caveat that this album has more poise than substance. I mean this in terms of music and lyrics and not arrangement and production. Becker and Fagen parted ways after this meticulous endeavor, leaving behind not so much a grand finale as another intelligent, dark-humored installment, to be continued or not. But there is one good thing about Steely Dan fanboys and girls, they get so buthurt and angry when you call it like it isâ¦Steely Dan is fucking lame, and they reflect your lame tastes. Of course, this is Steely Dan we’re talking about, so the record took two years and nearly 50 studio musicians to make; that’s the sort of thing you routinely hear when talking about the band. However, the album overall is neither consistent nor definitive. These guys are Steely Dan. 4 years ago. Pretzel Logics rock-country-soul patchwork is like a stronger attempt at what Steely Dan were going for on their first album. That being said, there are a couple of missteps, the only reason I wouldnt call this LP their best. The band’s best-known songs included ‘Do It Again,’ ‘Reelin’ in the Years,’ and ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.’ Learn more about its history and music. Gaucho Ive never cared for either the song or the guitar; the verses are nice, but the chorus hits me as rather pedestrian. In My Rival, a sneaky groove, humid organ textures, and cool horn riffs underline a faux-sinister lyric. There is no guy named Dan, as some non-fans think. In which Steely Dan reaches the apex of smooth sophistication. For the most part though, I find them a little too cold for my taste. I cant comment for sure, and Becker and Fagen insisted the songs were written before that fateful event. Perhaps the ensuing years of wrangling top players left the duo with a DIY sensibility, and theres no denying the rightness of Beckers basslines or Fagens keyboards. Steely Dan, American rock band that drew from the gamut of American musical styles to create some of the most intelligent and complex pop music of the 1970s. The jazz influence looms larger than ever in complex chord voicings, solos, and horn charts by Tom Scott. The Steely Dan back catalog was remastered in the late 1990s, and the reissues contain amusing liner note reflections from Donald and Walter. All of this together equals a good-time rock album with the bands hair down, so to speak and a thought-provoking one. But what does the group's name "Steely Dan" mean? Notice how some of the changes in the spooky intro are recycled in the chorus. Steely Dan's fans are notorious for their love of pristine audio quality; they loved virgin vinyl pressings of the Dan's classic studio work and they loved the CD reissues. Glamour Profession “The Good Songs,” Becker decided. Pretzel Logic stitches together the last threads of the early Dan style, nevermind the weaker detours. Amidst the plaid furniture of a 70s home, you can feel the shag carpet and hear the whirring projector. I like a number of Steely Dan's songs and tip my hat to their musicianship as expressed on their albums. A masterpiece. Can it be a case-by-case scenario? Fire in the Hole carries a certain weight, too. And why not Becker and Fagen were far from creatively exhausted, although this album has some lame entries. Your Gold Teeth If so, out of the countless hours Iâve spent in my lifetime with the headphones on or a record playing nearby, has one musician or group brought me more happiness overall? But thats it for the negative commentary. Doesn't mean they should be maligned just because they're from the past. I have been watching Lin Dan play for almost all his career, as a badminton fan i enjoy watching all players, but the very best are what draws the fans in. I love that line. Pretzel Logic Anyway, EMG is half brilliant, half acceptable, and at the very least, it provides some witty music you wont find anywhere else. By this point, Steely Dan is very good at creating self-contained musical narratives while leaving some mystery for the listener to ponder, and on that point, Doctor Wu has inspired more interpretations than almost any other SD lyric. Steely Dan and Blood Sweat and Tears were the two best jazz/rock fusion bands in the history of the many sub-genres rock and roll, imo. The bandâs seventh album in under a decade, and last until 2000âs Two Against Nature, Gaucho sets itself apart from the rest of the bandâs output with just how seamless it is despite a historically difficult production process. Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by jstraw, Mar 2, 2008. Donald Fagen can find rhymes for words most would never attempt. Anyway, I mentioned poise and thats what the album has in spades. There was always something cool about them that I couldn’t quite explain. Anyway, I think My Old School is a little stiff and hammy, but maybe thats why other people like it. The music is quite complex but every section is so well assembled that it doesnt feel crowded; nice touches include the limping beat, the pause between verses, the enshrined guitar solo, and the beautiful piano coda. Steely Dan is an American rock band founded in 1972 by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals). Close. Listening to Gaucho just makes it all seem a bit more tolerable. The writing and arrangements continue to mature in the better material. Becker continues to balance bass and guitar duties, as he will from here on out. To me around the age of 9 or 10, the guy was cool as hell. Most recently, it was one of the most famous art critics in America, Jerry Saltz, taking a dump on the group. Credit Chuck Rainey and Rick Marotta for putting such limber motion into Peg, an all around fine piece of work. The three best tracks appear at the beginning, middle, and end of the program. What do you look for in a song? How many times have I actively listened to Pavement albums all the way through? Substance: maybe less than the old days, but still there. The reasons for the split, according to village chatter, ranged from drinking to drugs to he couldnât keep his dick in his pants, a typical â80s excess thing. steely dan sucks ass and is a shining example of why a lot of proggy jazzy stuff is so boring despite having really good musicianship — Princess Ploom (@PloomPrincess) September 17, 2020 If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514 This jazzed-up jam is spiced by dissonance of the beret and goatee variety. The middle section features outstanding solos from Wayne Shorter (tenor sax) and Denny Dias in last Dan guitar appearance. Listening again to the now forty-year-old Gaucho (released 11/21/80), it should come as no surprise this final album from the early phase of Steely Dan’s career is the complete antithesis of the kitschy fascination with the Eighties that’s evolved since its release at the outset of the decade. For you younger people, Steely Dan was a rock band from the 1970's. Politics have become Steely Danner material as well. Steely Dan make some of the most precise sounding music I've ever heard. (Feldman appears on a few other SD albums, playing piano and/or percussion.) The opening vamp, by the way, rips off Keith Jarretts Long as You Know Youre Living Yours, and he eventually got compensated for it. Two Against Nature Of course, this is Steely Dan weâre talking about, so the record took two years and nearly 50 studio musicians to make; thatâs the sort of thing you routinely hear when talking about the band. If you say you like music but you donât like the Velvet Underground, well, then I question everything about you. Steely Dan actually sounds like a real band here, and a good one at that. I love almost â¦ The quickest ear grabber is Peg, a melodic jaunt driven by a ridiculously catchy groove. That should make sense. Babylon Sisters sets a scene of pure luxury to start, with a slow shuffle beat, swirling electric piano hitting dense chords, horn augmentation (including bass clarinets), and a laid back vocal. Some of their music had a blues sound to it. I heard it means something naughty involving a woman's body part, but I hope not. The devils advocate might observe that the Dans last album (until their turn of the century reunion) is calculated to a fault, since studio indulgence will drain the life from music if gone unchecked, and I used to feel that way about most of Gaucho. Well, well, it wasnt just a smash and grab, they actually kept going. Time Out of Mind flows better, given the tight vocal lines, infectious keyboards, and illuminating bridge. As far … Thatâs why the band was popular in the 1970s and why it continues to draw converts today. Nice slide guitar from Baxter. Sailing along for years in left leaning liberality and discovering the significant other is DVRing Glen Beck. As a former producer, I would get to a point where I had heard a mix so many ways that it all started to run together to me, and I had a hard time finding the 'best' mix. The player roster starts to shift a little bit, not that it makes a dramatic difference to the music. Great piano in this one, nice bass from Anthony Jackson, and Steve Khans outro guitar solo is a crowning touch. Its cute and shiny, but shallow. Itâs a moody album, a loose concept record looking at a bunch of people whose best days are behind them but maybe donât want to admit it. Maybe its the fact that SD is no longer a real group on Katy, having jettisoned Baxter and Hodder and focusing fully on the Becker-Fagen creative partnership, as translated by studio aces. 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At the end of the album comes West of Hollywood, a fragmented story told over a chilly, chugging backdrop which at the end finds modern tenor saxman Chris Potter rhapsodizing at length on one of the Dans most diabolical chord progressions giant steps indeed. Notice the jazz cap-tips: theres the vamp from Horace Silvers Song for My Father underpinning Rikki, the dizzy weekend ethos of Parkers Band, another bebop reference in Monkey, and I almost forgot to mention the spot-on cover of Dukes East St. Louis Toodle-oo. Same goes for the pert beat and sunny harmonies of Blues Beach, so sickly sweet. Its basically an instrumental that happens to have a vocal part. Again, I dont know if these are all classic texts, but the performances win out. The music underscores the scenes with resigned verses, a wacked-out bridge, and jazzy interludes, the second of which features a wonderful Dias solo though the fadeout. The real horror is Walter Beckers karaoke-ugly singing on Slang of Ages, which wastes a good chorus. The first Steely Dan LP is a double agent camouflaged in the customs of the day, speaking an educated pop-rock language colored by lotsa guitar, lounge-like congas, soulful backing vox, and various denim-clad memes. Im not poetic enough to capture the album all at once, so heres a blow by blow: Black Friday: A kiss-off from a protagonist who escapes financial doom and makes for Australia, set to a shuffling groove that by the third verse acquires a good edge. The drumming on the album, I must say, is pretty monotonous. I dont think theyre out to glorify their imaginary characters some of whom are rather degenerate but they use obscure scenarios to set up a droll punchline or two. For fans of their early work, the tempered tableaus of Aja must have sounded like suspended animation; I think its where Fagen and Becker were headed all along, writing great songs and realizing them with an array of first-call musicians. However, they were not really necessary, as the original releases were so well-done with high standards of quality control. Featured solos allow one to differentiate the guitarists: Denny Dias is the chromatic bopper, and Jeff Baxter is the visceral rocker. Nevertheless, the verses set up a fugue-like chorus, extra vocals courtesy of Michael McDonald. Green Earrings Any other fans here? I should say that Im not as entranced by the introspective mini-epic Deacon Blues as everyone else seems to be, but Im amazed by how well crafted it is, what with the umpteen modulations and finely calibrated arrangement. Itâs fine to obsess over that point the way Becker and Fagen did when it came to getting the exact perfect sound. Take The Royal Scam, a story of immigrants trying to get a foothold in a new country. Didnât everybody who heard their first record when it came out go and start a band? Daddy Dont Live in That New York City No More: The bluesy vamp of this skankazoid tune is not unlike what any decent bar band could dial up, although it takes some subtle turns. News, advice and insights for the most interesting man in the room. The gold standard in rock and roll pretentiousness, Steely Dan. It's a masterpiece. Steely Dan was known as more of a studio band than a live group, but in the current music business, money is made by touring, so Steely Dan hit the road. Steely Dan just pretended to be dad rock while playing a much longer and weirder game. Steely Dan and their lame-ass fans can put on your sky blue Tom’s, hand me down captain’s caps, and sail into the yacht rock sunset, because … Even in my younger and punker days, I dug the Dan. Dont miss the live version (available on compilations) in which the bands truck driver brings Mr. Steely Dan was one of the most successful music acts of the 1970s. Maybe it started with my friendâs dad and his gold 1986 Porsche 930 that he got to keep in the divorce (a very Steely Dan-esque sort of thing) that always smelled like weed and Polo cologne. Discussion. Meticulous detail builds the piece to dramatic height, including a little nod to Bach. There were brighter nights in the past, and we’re hopeful we’ll see their kind again. Discussion. This is a refined waltz piece with a touching vocal and jazzy Dias solo. The songs themselves are great. They succeed for the most part, although the random references can seem forced. By this point, Steely Dan is very good at creating self-contained musical narratives while leaving some mystery for the listener to ponder, and on that point, “Doctor Wu” has inspired more interpretations than almost any other SD lyric. 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