Author Topic: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown  (Read 2817 times)

I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« on: November 05, 2020, 10:46:10 AM »
I am. I've set myself a goal.

So far I've listened to "Can't Buy A Thrill" (which I think I used to own) and have just started "Countdown To Ecstasy"

I already know "Showbiz Kids" thanks to Super Furry Animals but I was unprepared for how good "Bodhisattva" was.

Please join me on this journey.

SpiderChrist

  • "the law of averages says you'll survive"
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2020, 11:04:48 AM »
Steely Dan are ace. Countdown is my favourite album of theirs, but it's all gold (yes, even Gaucho).

Weirdly, I got into them after hearing Donald Fagen's Nightfly album, which is a bit arse about face I suppose.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2020, 11:49:08 AM »
How I love Steely Dan, a band whose work I assumed for so long would be some kind of bore-a-thon that made grown men talk for hours about "chops". And it is, actually, but it's so much more besides.

Gaucho gets the cold shoulder so often and yet I adore it. Every song is a burned-out commentary on a lowlife or a failure of some kind, all served up with desert-dry humour and ludicrously tight playing. Every song is a winner, plus the title track is like an alternate universe version of the Taxi theme tune. I still think it's their best work. Aja is marvellous but it does limp to a slightly dull conclusion.

The Cloud of Unknowing

  • And that's... okay
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2020, 12:15:11 PM »
Every song is a winner, plus the title track is like an alternate universe version of the Taxi theme tune.

Or Keith Jarrett's 'Long As You Know You're Living Yours'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM36ykdccsQ

He gets a co-composer credit now.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2020, 12:24:44 PM »
I have the double CD 'Show Biz Kids' compilation, which is so extensive that I've never really felt the need to pick up the actual albums - it has five of the seven songs off 'Aja' on i, for example. I might pick up 'Pretzel Logic' sometime, just because of 'Barrytown', which isn't on the comp.

'The Nightfly' is a good album, but something about it makes it fall short of the Dan's best work. I think it might be to do with the general sound of it, which is a bit 80s for my liking - normally I can enjoy that, but I suppose I prefer to hear Fagan's voice in a different context.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2020, 12:28:18 PM »
Or Keith Jarrett's 'Long As You Know You're Living Yours'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM36ykdccsQ

He gets a co-composer credit now.

I had no idea. I can see why he got a share of the publishing!

shagatha crustie

  • Hung a star in the book of liars by your name
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2020, 04:04:22 PM »
How I love Steely Dan, a band whose work I assumed for so long would be some kind of bore-a-thon that made grown men talk for hours about "chops". And it is, actually, but it's so much more besides.

Yeah gotta agree with this - with those 'transcendent sleaze' lyrics and the unique attitude to composition, they're far more than just a wanky chops band. Every single solo or instrumental passage on a Dan album has feeling in spades. Becker and Fagen are kinda taking the piss out of everything - even their own music. The sarcasm just drips from every note, which makes it all the more beautiful when the real feeling comes through.

Gaucho was underrated for years - just now getting its due. It's the third best for me (behind Aja and Countdown). Could never get with the two reunion records though.

Non Stop Dancer

  • Nice apple tart
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2020, 06:15:33 PM »
Absolutely incredible group. I prefer the stuff from The Royal Scam onwards personally, when they fully cross over into jazzy soulfulness. Donald Fagan's chord progressions are just ridiculously good.

Right, I'm off to listen to Haitian Divorce.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2020, 09:39:56 PM »
Yeah gotta agree with this - with those 'transcendent sleaze' lyrics and the unique attitude to composition, they're far more than just a wanky chops band. Every single solo or instrumental passage on a Dan album has feeling in spades. Becker and Fagen are kinda taking the piss out of everything - even their own music. The sarcasm just drips from every note, which makes it all the more beautiful when the real feeling comes through.

Gaucho was underrated for years - just now getting its due. It's the third best for me (behind Aja and Countdown). Could never get with the two reunion records though.

This completely nails their appeal. And when they are open-hearted it's just transcendent, like "The Caves Of Altimira" or "Any Major Dude Will Tell You".

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2020, 09:12:30 AM »
I'm fully on board with the first two now but have especially fallen for "Countdown To Ecstasy"

The knackered lead guitar sound on "My Old School" is a thing of beauty.

Also, looking at the back cover of the album, I did once own it but, along with about 2 foot of records it got left at my ex's house when she ran off with a bearded man.

I'm moving onto "Pretzel Logic" and "Katy Lied" tomorrow.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2020, 11:59:08 AM »
I have the double CD 'Show Biz Kids' compilation, which is so extensive that I've never really felt the need to pick up the actual albums - it has five of the seven songs off 'Aja' on i, for example. I might pick up 'Pretzel Logic' sometime, just because of 'Barrytown', which isn't on the comp.

'The Nightfly' is a good album, but something about it makes it fall short of the Dan's best work. I think it might be to do with the general sound of it, which is a bit 80s for my liking - normally I can enjoy that, but I suppose I prefer to hear Fagan's voice in a different context.

Pretzel Logic I find as maybe the most uneven album, some absolute belters that are on that compilation but besides that only really Barrytown would be at the same kind of level for me, perhaps a symptom of them being most focused on touring around that time?

I would say personally Can't Buy a Thrill, Katy Lied and Aja are the most consistent albums, Katy maybe my favourite as a halfway point between their two career phases, stuff like Rose Darling, Daddy Don't Live In That Newyork City and Your Gold Teeth II are all classics not on the compilation. I'd guessing the Thrill choices for that album are based a bit on what Fagen does the vocals on but Midnight Cruiser and Brooklyn Owes The Charmer would be up their with my favourite Dan tracks.

Honestly at this stage I'm struggling to think who I might put ahead of them in terms of favourite US bands, maybe Talking Heads if live stuff and the Bryne/Eno album is included.

Ominous Dave

  • Still can't be arsed to upload an avatar.
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2020, 12:24:03 PM »
The first side of Aja is perfect, the second has this big tedious gap between 'Peg' and 'Josie' that I can't be doing with. Ultimately there's only so much antiseptic LA session muso stuff you can put up with, even when the album is sneerily satirising it the same time.

On the other hand, 'Reeling in the Years' is the best answer-song to Cat Stevens' 'Father and Son' even if it wasn't intended to be.

shagatha crustie

  • Hung a star in the book of liars by your name
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2020, 12:29:00 PM »
Pretzel Logic I find as maybe the most uneven album, some absolute belters that are on that compilation but besides that only really Barrytown would be at the same kind of level for me, perhaps a symptom of them being most focused on touring around that time?

Pretzel trails right off - 'Through With Buzz,' 'With a Gun,' 'Charlie Freak' and 'Monkey in Your Soul' are not bad songs but they're the closest things to filler they did in their '70s run.

Katy I think is equivalent in quality but more evenly interspersed throughout - 'Daddy Don't Live...' and 'Chain Lightning' sound to me like stuff that would have taken them 20 minutes, compared to superlative material like 'Dr Wu' and 'Your Gold Teeth II.'
« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 01:19:26 PM by shagatha crustie »

shagatha crustie

  • Hung a star in the book of liars by your name
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2020, 01:28:07 PM »
I fuckin love 'The Bear', which with 'The Second Arrangement' also included would have easily made Gaucho their best album:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu8dMG0PB-4

The eerie Rhodes waltz at the beginning... that nasty Clav groove... Fagen's acidic double tracked vocal...

Sir I parked my juggernaut at your gate

Only SD could get away with an opening line like that.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2020, 05:09:13 PM »
The first side of Aja is perfect, the second has this big tedious gap between 'Peg' and 'Josie' that I can't be doing with. Ultimately there's only so much antiseptic LA session muso stuff you can put up with, even when the album is sneerily satirising it the same time.

No! No, I won't have that. "Home at Last" is fucking sublime. "I Got the News," on the other hand, is probably the worst thing they ever released. (Even the original liner notes to the album seem to say so, which I thought was ballsy on their part to allow for a note of critical derision on the innards of their own record. Then I found out they wrote the liner notes under an assumed name, which makes me love those weirdos even more than I already did.)

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2020, 05:46:16 PM »
Gaucho is my most listened to of their records, silky smooth goodness from start to finish, not a bad tune on there. They're one of those bands I could never see the appeal of and then one day it just clicked. It's uncle music, isn't it? Not quite dad rock, but uncle rock.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2020, 06:45:12 PM »
Pretzel trails right off - 'Through With Buzz,' 'With a Gun,' 'Charlie Freak' and 'Monkey in Your Soul' are not bad songs but they're the closest things to filler they did in their '70s run.

Katy I think is equivalent in quality but more evenly interspersed throughout - 'Daddy Don't Live...' and 'Chain Lightning' sound to me like stuff that would have taken them 20 minutes, compared to superlative material like 'Dr Wu' and 'Your Gold Teeth II.'

Alot of the rest of Pretzel is really lacking the same kind of polish you'd associate with them, the songs arent bad but lacking in the shear number of hooks and more complex arrangements.

Stuff like Chain Lighting and Your Gold Teeth II are quite simple songs but do have that extra polish and some really nice Denny Dias soloing. To return the favouri for their nicking from Jarret Herbie Hancock did a pretty good cover version of the latter...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htxP1rNBkRQ


Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2020, 08:24:19 PM »
I love the first half of Pretzel Logic. The second half does drift off into irrelevance somewhat. But I think Katy Lied is the weakest of their main run of albums. It's got some OK songs but the whole thing drifts by in a cloud of impenetrable lyrics and unmemorable melodies.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2020, 08:58:13 PM »
Nice one

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2020, 08:59:09 PM »
I've nailed the guitar solos for Kid Charlemagne and Peg - that's how much of a fan I am.

What next?

shagatha crustie

  • Hung a star in the book of liars by your name

SpiderChrist

  • "the law of averages says you'll survive"

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2020, 11:01:13 PM »
Great vid of Jay Graydon teaching the Peg solo if anyone wants to take a crack:
https://youtu.be/Ghp88V3Qm8w


non capisco

  • Don't wanna hear those vile trumpets anymore
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2020, 11:14:02 PM »
The solo in the middle of Rikki Don't Lose That Number is utterly wonderful. Go on, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter!

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2020, 01:16:54 AM »
Ten Favorite Steely Dan Tracks That Never Seem To Make It Onto Compilations, In Chronological Order:

1. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again
2. Your Gold Teeth
3. Barrytown
4. Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More
5. Your Gold Teeth II
6. The Caves of Altamira
7. Home at Last
8. Glamour Profession
9. Almost Gothic
10. Jack of Speed

The Cloud of Unknowing

  • And that's... okay
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2020, 01:31:17 AM »
^ The languid horn motifs in Jack of Speed are superb.

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2020, 07:06:02 AM »
The solo in the middle of Rikki Don't Lose That Number is utterly wonderful. Go on, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter!

Fuck yeah. And the way it goes into that little 'you tell yourself you're not my kind' bit before the chorus, a little melody twist, typical of the Dan.

Skunk was great, he lifted so many songs on the first album too (not that they needed it!)

This is worth a watch - the star of the show, seated, 40-odd years later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xN0hmNS_IU


Cottonon

  • Let The Spinning Wheel Blaaaah
Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2020, 08:09:55 AM »
Once you hear the outtakes from Gaucho (namely The Bear, Second Arrangement, Talking Bout My Home and Kulee Baba) you really get a sense of what it could of been. I love it but it is haunted by what was left off. Though wasn't a new tape of Second Arrangement found this year by Roger Nichols daughter?

Still contains two of their finest moments in the title track and Glamour Profession. Love that kind of cross-key piano solo and the Szechaun Dumplings line still raises a smile.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2020, 12:32:15 PM »
I'm having a hard time with "Pretzel Logic" and "Katy Lied" They both seem a bit on auto-pilot and songs aren't as distinct from each other as they were on the first two.

I might push ahead and come back to them.

Fuckinell "The Royal Scam" has the worst LP cover I've seen in a long time.

Re: I'm Really Going To Get Into Steely Dan During This Lockdown
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2020, 12:54:09 PM »
Fuckinell "The Royal Scam" has the worst LP cover I've seen in a long time.

Becker and Fagen agree with you - "the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy a Thrill)" was their assessment.

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