Monday, March 05, 2007

Okay, Sometimes I'm a Little Slow

It's not that I didn't like Steely Dan. I bought their first 45 Do It Again and had a couple of their later albums (Royal Scam and Aja) but I never collected their entire catalogs the way I did bands like Chicago and the Doobie Brothers. It probably took (of all things) the soundtrack of "Me, Myself and Irene" and the covers of a number of older Steely Dan songs for me to really get it. So a couple of weeks ago I dropped $50 on Amazon in exchange for the first six Steely Dan CDs, from Can't Buy a Thrill to Aja (I didn't get Gaucho but probably will later).


I know the guys weren't exactly in high school when the first album came out - they were in their mid-twenties - but I can't think of a more sophisticated debut album. And unlike the aforementioned 70's bands, it sounds pretty timeless. Pull out your copy of the first disk and listen to Reelin' in the Years again - the sarcastic lyrical putdowns and the memorable Elliott Randall guitar solos - and see if it doesn't sound as fresh today as it did 35 years ago.

I realize that those of you who are longstanding Dan-fans are thinking "great, Tony P is going to next tell us that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west" and yeah, I realize I'm being Captain Obvious here but they do say that converts are the biggest fanatics. I'm thinking I'm a fanatic now.



At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The uncredited slide-guitar solos in "My Old School"? Rick Derringer, of all people. That's one constant -- the note-perfect, pitch-perfect, taste-perfect guitar solos. Fagen is obsessive about them, and for him it was always about the song, never the musician. He didn't *care* who played the guitar solo or whatever, as long as he got what he was after.

My taste for them pretty well stops at Aja, but even at that, "Deacon Blues" is a fine way to end a career, if you will.

Welcome to the cult.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

Pretzel Logic blows me away, as does Can't Buy a Thrill. I'm still learning to love Countdown to Ecstacy. I'd pretty much dismissed Aja years ago after it got so much airplay, but I'm enjoying rediscovering it (I'm about to do the same thing with Pink Floyd's The Wall - I played the grooves off the vinyl 35 years ago but I heard a couple of cuts recently for the first time in awhile and remembered what an incredible record it was/is).

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aja was my introduction to the band, so even though I'm not much excited by "Black Cow" or "I Got the News," I'm still relentlessly attracted to Steve Gadd's insane drum work on "Aja," Jay Graydon's git-fiddle on "Peg," and the whole of "Home at Last." And even Gaucho has a few great tracks (the title cut and "Third World Man," mainly.)

Can't Buy a Thrill is still my favorite album start to finish, though, and even thirty-odd years later, I'm still not tired of "Reelin' in the Years."


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