Then, in January 1980, Becker's girlfriend died of a drugs overdose, causing him to withdraw from recording even further. I've listened to this album five times straight this morning, it's that kind of album with melodies never obvious, always subtle and a sound that comes across as consummately professional, slick and with absolutely no rough edges whatsoever. So no, I guess I'm not a real audiophile. Instrumental interplay is all over the place, with vocal touches buried here and there, but all the ideas make themselves known. Victor Feldman's electric piano solo flows effortlessly and Tom Scott's horn arrangement is subtle but effective. If you don't understand why they used Chuck so often then take a moment and lend an ear to what he's playing on this tune. I liked the opening track, 'Bodhisattva', because Buddhism seemed to be a part of '73 a dreamy year , but listening to Bodhisattva today is embarrassing.
Aja is a bravura exercise in music production that also happens to be loaded with great songs. They got a name for the winners in the world. It's cool, groovy addictive listening! It blows away the reissue. It seemed better than it was because I was 17 and my mind was so open that my brains were falling out. It's not bad music, but it doesn't boast too many pieces of catchiness. The features jazz-based changes and a solo by saxophonist. I feel well rewarded for the cash kindling I toss onto the this fire and only wish I could have stepped into the circle of light a little sooner.
That's set against an extremely polite little groove. It is also the only track on this release to feature solos by both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. It's not a drum solo. The guitar work and keyboards is amazing, its understated but perfect. This album is pretty undemanding musically. Michael McDonald's unique tenor is unmistakable on the chorus and Jay Graydon's spectacular guitar break is one that never gets old.
It beats the Cisco and especially the thuddy Mobile Fidelity from way back when. The entire song is so cool and charming, it gets to me, anyway. You can find the track listing online but obviously given the release date, it goes from the debut album through Aja. It's not real good-time music. To me, it's very funny. Jazz based rhythms are a feature of the opening cut, 'Do It Again', great guitar parts including notable solo's also a feature. Listen, that guy absolutely hates me.
Personally, as far as originality, sound, the way the music moves me, interesting chord patterns, pristine recordings, soulful vocals, and truly captivating lyrics, I think this band has no equal and they stand in a musical genre all their own. I don't want to go into this side of things too much, it's just that 'Katy Lied' seems to sway in a lyrical direction to me, as the music isn't really all that striking compared to Steely Dan at their peak. Nowadays the very idea of being hip is so commodified - and so available - that it is simply a part of a lifestyle experience. Smooth vocals and melodies that eventually reach you, but because they are so understated, reach you more and more each time you listen and never in fact become overdone - you never get tired of them. It's kind of a minimum livable standard, really. On the table you can also see a copy of the 1958 jazz album Sonny Rollins And The Contemporary Leaders.
I bought the reissue of Gaucho several years ago and then picked up a promo copy from a radio station collection that looks like it was never played. . The cover is good too. So, Steely Dan haven't just disappeared up their own backsides after all? And it's scored for falsetto voices, which adds to the effect. It looked pretty cool, so I picked it up. Fagen takes the baton from there, his vocal slicked with just the right trace of echo, angling toward a chorus that expands and elevates.
To be fair, they treat the song with respect, but it just strikes me as being a little. Here the rhythm track supplied by drummer Rick Marotta and bassist Chuck Rainey ignites the studio with their irresistible groove. Is sweet or nice better than smooth? The first side is flawless: I really like 'Glamour Profession'! The inner groove areas on both are written in the same scrawl. Once the right guitar solo, bass line or horn arrangement had been laid down, any performers surplus to requirements would be shown the door, ruthlessly discarded by the band leaders. Great keyboard work, and the sound of the vocals interests me. But, looking back, it seems like the sort of contrived-but-well-performed track that Steely Dan did so well.
Nice to see them getting some love here. One of my only escapes was late-night radio shows that were broadcast from Manhattan - jazz and rhythm and blues. In this sense an important sign of legitimacy has been missing, but then this is what makes Fagen who he is: someone who doesn't need validation. Paying attention to a song like 'Black Friday' and following the lyrics as you listen can reveal musical nuances. Songs about crazed neighbors, homosexual social climbers, growing old disgracefully, the early 80's L. True, there is nothing at all striking here, everyone sounds so calm and relaxed that you begin to wonder what secret they have that makes them that way. Six albums in, Steely Dan is all there, coalescing in a palette that sweats every detail without getting mired in a one.