But what’s 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. 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 The music has as many twists and turns as progressive rock, although Steely Dan’s efforts are smoother. The lyric is impenetrable unless one knows the old film of a similar name. (Can’t offer a lyrical interpretation, though.) Take “The Last Mall”, a neo-blues about spree shopping in the face of armageddon. I heard it means something naughty involving a woman's body part, but I hope not. “Chain Lightning”: I wouldn’t consider this altered blues a major SD entry by any means, but it’s one of the more ironic examples of an outrageous lyric set to unthreatening music. … Efforts like “Dirty Work”, “Brooklyn”, and “Only a Fool Would Say That” center on mood and lyrical grit rather than outstanding melodies. 1973, “There ain’t nothing in Chicago for a monkey woman to do”. For fans of their early work, the tempered tableaus of Aja must have sounded like suspended animation; I think it’s where Fagen and Becker were headed all along, writing great songs and realizing them with an array of first-call musicians. (But damn, it’s a guilty pleasure.) Per usual, Becker and Fagen hire a parade of sessioneers to complement their own instrumental contributions. Did you ever see that episode of What’s Happening where the Doobie Brothers came to visit? This is a jam-packed track, featuring a funky rhythm loop under repetitive backing vocals, gnawing slide guitar, and one of many lyrics that displays Becker/Fagen’s disaffection with Los Angeles. A masterpiece. “Bad Sneakers”: The song (concerning a wish to be back in New York, perhaps from an incarcerated character) is so-so in my mind, although the arrangement is well thought-out. Steely Dan even went so far as to prompt their brilliant Grammy Award-winning Chief Engineer Roger Nichols to create a machine called to provide some of the drum and percussion sounds on the song "Hey Nineteen" from the Gaucho album (and a few years later on Donald Fagen's 1982 masterwork, The Nightfly). The other favorite “Josie” has a relaxed funk backdrop and enlightened chord movement. It’s cute and shiny, but shallow. 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. I had to go into hiding, not really letting on that when “Do it Again” came on the classic rock station, I was singing along in my head while the other kids my age were making fun. Amongst the other cuts, the voodoo title track and the contemporary jazz of “Negative Girl” (with vibes and icy guitars) both stand out. In “My Rival”, a sneaky groove, humid organ textures, and cool horn riffs underline a faux-sinister lyric. “Throw Back the Little Ones” This is a refined waltz piece with a touching vocal and jazzy Dias solo. I say the answer is (c), with the caveat that this album has more poise than substance. Maybe it’s 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. Steely Dan actually sounds like a real band here, and a good one at that. Enjoyable side items include the chummy pop of “Barrytown” and the mutant R&B of “Monkey in Your Soul”, both of which feature “insulting” lyrics, and the latter has fuzz-bass and cool horn riffs to boot. Countdown to Ecstasy The quickest ear grabber is “Peg”, a melodic jaunt driven by a ridiculously catchy groove. Given Homer’s age you can easily ass… And that’s really why Gaucho celebrating its 40th comes at such a perfect time. For examples, check out the quartal vamp and luxurious bridge of “Green Earrings”, or the sick harmonic cadence under the “holy man” refrain in “The Fez” – who else in rock wrote charts like these? Sailing along for years in left leaning liberality and discovering the significant other is DVRing Glen Beck. “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. On the positive side, the title track creates an insinuating blues mood, while the lovely hooks of “Any Major Dude” sink easily. Is it the actual music, like the piano or guitar or whatever instrument is leading the pack? Notice how some of the changes in the spooky intro are recycled in the chorus. Steely Dan is an awesome band because they really were perfectionists in regard to every element of their music. As Alex Pappademas wrote for Pitchfork, “The only character who’s having any kind of communal fun is the coke dealer on ‘Glamour Profession,’ who makes calls from a basketball star’s car phone and takes meetings over Mr. Chow dumplings with ‘Jive Miguel…from Bogotá.’’ People being past their prime honestly never sounded so good. It’s free. Pretzel Logic’s rock-country-soul patchwork is like a stronger attempt at what Steely Dan were going for on their first album. 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 dark immigrant tale “Royal Scam” milks a hesitant vamp under scattered horn dialogue, releasing suspense in a majestic title refrain. Without a significant lyric, it falls into the “good filler” role. For me, “Everything Must Go” could well be about Steely Dan closing their own doors. All rights reserved. Steely Dan’s breakthrough single (and second-highest-charting Hot 100 hit, peaking at No. The gold standard in rock and roll pretentiousness, Steely Dan. Steely Dan is outstanding on vinyl and CD, but in concert it's not the same sound. I honestly don’t know what stirs people to dance to modern drum-machine beats. The record hits middle age just when all of us are reduced to our barebones selves. If you’re looking for a one-shot summation of Steely Dan’s brilliance, go to the title track “Aja”. “Kid Charlemagne”, a funky story of a washed-up drug chemist, deserves best-track honor, while the outlaw scenario in “Don’t Take Me Alive” has the homegrown rock feel of older SD songs. Even in my younger and punker days, I dug the Dan. 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). Also, the chord voicings themselves connote conflict or tension (the minor-seventh flat-fives) and spacious ambiguity (the recurring suspended chord). Back to Rock. This seven-minute journey works though mysterious verses and then develops a shining instrumental section. 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. Donald Fagen can find rhymes for words most would never attempt. And awesome. Countdown contends with Aja for the best SD album, and it’s the strongest of the early period, when the Dias-Baxter guitars and the Hodder drums were still teamed with Becker and Fagen in what could be called a working band. Steely Dan’s key oldies get played on most of the available radio formats. All of the above is as much of a grab bag as Thrill or Pretzel Logic, but it’s richer than either of those titles. They may be "dated" but so is Muddy Waters or Bach, for that matter. There are a couple of cutesy tracks in “Janie Runaway” and “Cousin Dupree”, although the incestuous humor of the latter is only funny once. “Throw Back the Little Ones”: An aura of small-time menace runs through this portrait of a con artist. Then there’s the fact that Lou Reed and John Cale both put out a handful of nearly-as-perfect solo albums (and let’s not forget some of the stuff Moe Tucker did in the ‘80s with her old bandmates and members of Sonic Youth helping her out — also golden), and overall, it’s difficult for me to find a band that I mesh with as well as the Velvets. His manner, behind dark glasses and keyboard, is so reminiscent of Ray Charles that it almost feels like a skit (he calls the female backing singers the “Dan-ettes”). “Show Biz Kids”: ...making movies of themselves / You know they don’t give a f*ck about anybody else. Amidst the plaid furniture of a ‘70s home, you can feel the shag carpet and hear the whirring projector. 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. “Any World That I’m Welcome To”: This one’s valuable for a lack of irony, a poignant musing on personal displacement. Can’t Buy a Thrill Fagen regarded himself as primarily a keyboardist and composer instead of frontman, although his voice has much more character than the temporary employee’s. They sent it out as a single, and while it’s a little too irritating for that job, it works in the album context. It would have been a grand instrumental had they let two or three of their world-class hirelings blow over it. The reasons for the split, according to village chatter, ranged from drinking to drugs to he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants, a typical ‘80s excess thing. Posted by. The jazz influence looms larger than ever in complex chord voicings, solos, and horn charts by Tom Scott. As I filter through all the music I’ve listened to in my life, two bands comes up each and every time. “Aja” The sci-fi criminal fantasy “Sign in Stranger” moves to a skanky beat and soulful piano, and “The Fez”, love it or hate it, dives deep into the disco pocket, replete with synth strings and countless chord changes. Featured solos allow one to differentiate the guitarists: Denny Dias is the chromatic bopper, and Jeff Baxter is the visceral rocker. It's free. The real horror is Walter Becker’s karaoke-ugly “singing” on “Slang of Ages”, which wastes a good chorus. I love almost … Pretzel Logic stitches together the last threads of the early Dan style, nevermind the weaker detours. “Green Earrings” In which Steely Dan reaches the apex of smooth sophistication. The title track attempts humorous grandeur but is a minor calamity in my opinion. The player roster starts to shift a little bit, not that it makes a dramatic difference to the music. Sly verses and a divergent bridge complete the picture. 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. Through the fadeout, Steve Gadd’s drum solo releases all of the song’s suggested feelings. For you younger people, Steely Dan was a rock band from the 1970's. I have been a big fan of Steely Dan for quite some time. Actually, for most of its existence, Steely Dan has been those 2 guys, or was, until sadly Walter Becker … 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. 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. “Razor Boy”: An underrated gem in the Dan folio, “Razor Boy” crafts odd-shaped verses, vibes, string bass, and pedal steel into a wistful and wise song. I hate to think that a rock band that produced such good … That being said, there are a couple of missteps, the only reason I wouldn’t call this LP their best. He had a few cassette tapes that I can recall: Spandau Ballet’s True, Marquee Moon by Television and Gaucho by Steely Dan. You?? Walter Becker handles bass alongside drummer Jim Hodder. Close. “Glamour Profession” “Glamour Profession” looks at an omnipresent drug dealer, set to an insistent disco beat and swimming in a pool of heady voicings. However, they were not really necessary, as the original releases were so well-done with high standards of quality control. I think it indicates how much their lyrics leave open to interpretation. 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 … What do you look for in a song? 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. 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 “My Old School”: The girl was too cruel and the narrator doesn’t want to go back to campus in this rock/R&B hybrid, topped with saxophone riffs and barroom piano. Take “The Royal Scam”, a story of immigrants trying to get a foothold in a new country. 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 just pretended to be dad rock while playing a much longer and weirder game. Can I trawl through, say, Aretha Franklin’s catalog and find more to like versus Prince or Neil Young? 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 Leonhart’s support vocal. Copyright © 2020 InsideHook. They also know how to wed music and lyrics in ironic counterpoint. Any Steely Dan fans out there? Denny Dias is still around to lend a good solo or two, as are hired guitarists Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, and Rick Derringer, along with pianist Michael Omartian and drummer Jeff Porcaro, among others. (What an attractive voice she has.)