At last! The STEELY DAN Album-By-Album Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ohnothimagen, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    As an aside I got my copy of Gold the other day, gave it a listen this morning. It sounds good...I see that Roger Nichols digitally remastered the tracks used for the release. You can sort of tell, especially where the extended fades of "Green Earrings" and "Deacon Blues" are concerned. "King Of The World" sorta sticks out on Gold but I think they wanted an earlier track on there for contrast- it serves as a good reminder of just how good the Steely Dan BAND was. "FM"- it occurs to me that Becker's solo at the end almost seems David Gilmouresque. The overall sound of the track sorta makes me wish they'd started working on the followup to Aja right them and there using that "FM" momentum. Becker and Fagen were totally on it on that song.

    I may just be compelled to scarf up a copy of Greatest Hits now, if I can find one cheap enough.
     
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  2. zebop

    zebop Well Known Stranger

    I have Greatest Hits on yellow vinyl, it's great. Yep, the time when they were recording FM sounds more "musical" less remote and digital, a full album from SD around that time would have been great.
     
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  3. dvakman

    dvakman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Orleans
    My personal ranking of the first eight albums:

    1. Aja
    2. The Nightfly
    3. Gaucho (could have been a contender for number one with a completed The Second Arrangement in place of Gaucho)
    4. The Royal Scam
    5. Pretzel Logic
    6. Countdown to Ecstasy
    7. Katy Lied
    8. Can't Buy a Thrill
     
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  4. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Well, I just gave 11 Tracks Of Whack a listen, so I'll do my writeup on that one tonight. I liked it, I must say- I think what turned me off the last time I heard it was I was expecting it to sound like a Steely Dan record (which it decidedly does not for the most part) and 'cos I wasn't used to Becker's voice. Yes, live drums on the all the songs would have been nice and I chuckled a couple of times at Fagen's keyboard patches 'cos they sounded very much a product of their time (a keyboard that sounded not dissimilar to the one I just bought as a matter of fact) But overall I dug the whole loose (or looser, at least) homemade aspect to the record. Forgive me for saying it, but Whack is like Becker's McCartney II IMO (that's meant as a compliment). As far as Walter Becker's solo stuff I still prefer Circus Money, though, mainly due to its organic sound (more melodic, too)
     
  5. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Music Appreciator

    Location:
    Eastern Iowa
    my thoughts on Kamakiriad coming tonight.
     
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  6. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Mine too! :)

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
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  7. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Phew! Glad to see it's not just me about the "Expecting To Dan" around 11 Tracks! I like the way you put it.

    Initially for me, it was like "This is the Dan right? But - it's not the Dan... but it is the Dan.. but it's not... help...me.."

    Once you listen to it on it's own terms, it's pretty cool. I'll be interested to see your write-up.

    For those who haven't heard 11 Tracks Of Whack, it might be kind of hard to find. It's on Spotify, if you're in a pinch:

    11 Tracks Of Whack

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  8. Black Thumb

    Black Thumb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV
    That puzzles me a bit. It got to #11, back when you still needed fairly healthy sales to get that high. It ended up in the cutout bins, so Giant obviously printed up a lot of copies.
     
  9. WilliamWes

    WilliamWes Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    '11 Tracks of Whack' may be the furthest from the Steely Dan sound that we get. It's funny how he used the slang 'whack' as in 'crap' but the expression is considered old now so the title might seem strange.
     
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  10. Black Thumb

    Black Thumb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV
    Way way back in the early days of this thread, a clip was posted of Donny and Marie doing unspeakable things to "Reeling In The Years".

    My friends, I have discovered an entire album of Steely Dan covers that dwarf that little atrocity by several orders of magnitude.

    May I present ... STEELY DANCE!

    Steely Dance - YouTube
     
  11. zebop

    zebop Well Known Stranger

    Hit or miss, so weird, I think it all gave me a migraine if not a mini-stroke.
     
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  12. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Okay - my Kamakiriad review will have to wait just a little bit. My copy of Live At The Beacon arrived. This is by The New York Rock and Soul Review - organized by Libby Titus - produced by Donald Fagen and Elliot Scheiner - recorded March 1st & 2nd, 1991.

    Donald wrote the liner notes - an introductory paragraph and track by track comments. It's also on Azoff's Giant record label - the Warner associated label that Walter Becker and Steely Dan would eventually join. Donald apparently had a pre-existing contract with Warner/Reprise that would take over Steely Dan's final album.

    I may not post a full review of this - but I want to listen to it before tackling Kamakiriad. I'm guessing the "dense" sound of Kamakiriad is based on the charts Donald had been doing for this project. I'm wondering if Donald and Walter were recreating this big sound in the studio by themselves.

    I've also been wondering if both Kamakiriad and 11 Tracks Of Whack had budgetary concerns. Like - since they weren't Steely Dan - and Donald hadn't done an album in 11 years - if the budgets were smaller than they were used to. Hence the "let's take our demos and flush them out" feel of both albums. Yes - Kamakiriad is more ornate - but the programmed drums and bass lines are what I'm wondering about here.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
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  13. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
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  14. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Okay - one more post. Continuing on from the speculation in my previous post - it wasn't budgetary - it's more a control issue. Donald says:

    The album took about two years to complete because Walter lives in Hawaii and didn’t want to spend that much time away from his family. He would come to New York, where I live, for six weeks. And I would perhaps write a couple more songs and then I’d spend six weeks working with him at his home studio in Hawaii. So there were a lot of breaks and it was not a particularly hurried schedule, it was kind of relaxed. But altogether it took about two years.

    On this record, I felt that I wanted to have more control, you might say even more control, than I had on other records, so I played all the keyboard parts myself, and arranged all the rhythm tracks myself. I even, in fact, did the horn arrangements myself. In the past, I always had someone help me with the voicing of the horns. I felt that if I wrote the arrangements fairly simply, the music would be more unified, if everything was bent to my own conception.

    I think that the music is unified in the sense that one of the most important things to me when I was doing the arrangements was the groove of the tune. I was looking for something very specific in the way of groove, and in fact made essentially the demos that I used to start with the very specific absolute groove. I wanted the groove to be aggressive and yet very relaxed at the same time. The groove is so consistent that when you get to the end of the album, it’s easy to loop around back to the first tune.

    With Walter producing, we first started to think about other musicians we would use and we realized, certainly I realized, that the bass player I would most rather have play on the thing was Walter. So he ended up doing all the bass parts, and all the lead guitar. If it sounds like a Steely Dan record, there’s a good reason for it.

    I feel that, more than any other record, I got the finished product to sound the way I imagined it would come out.​

    That's from the link I just posted above. :)

    I'm imagining that Walter had similar ideas too. So - in a way - you really were hearing their "demos" - as in - what they would each create if other musicians weren't as involved. I think this is what Don and Walt would do if left to their own devices - as opposed to them jointly leading the Steely Dan Band - or even their later solo careers where they had each assembled more of a solo band.

    Fascinating, really.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  15. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Well, I do believe I will hold off the 11 Tracks Of Whack discussion for one more day so that @pool_of_tears and @Paul P. can finish their Kamakiriad thoughts (and anybody else, of course)
    Indeed- it would have been nice, say, for Two Against Nature, if Donald and Walter played all the keyboard, guitar and bass parts themselves alongside a drummer, horns etc. They're capable musicians in their own right, as Kamakiriad and Whack prove easily. Just leave the Casio keyboard at home, Don:laugh:
     
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  16. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Okay - I found the cigarette story. I was pretty close. This is from an interview for Morph The Cat:
    Q&A: Donald Fagen

    Cheers,
    Paul

    ---------------

    Would it be fair to say that you guys have an almost telepathic relationship?

    Neither Walter nor myself have smoked a cigarette for a long time. When I started making this record, I bummed a Parliament from our drummer. It was the first time I'd been smoking since, like, '85, and I started smoking, like, half a pack a day. It was great — I like smoking. I've since quit, but it was a great year for me [laughs]. Anyway, I hadn't seen Walter in a while. We went out, and I said to him, "I started smoking again — I gotta get some cigarettes." Walter pulls out a pack of Parliaments. He'd started smoking again. The same brand. That's a pretty good example.
     
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  17. Scurvy

    Scurvy Member

    Location:
    Oregon
    HOLY MOLY, what a find.
    This'll freak the kids out for sure, thanks!
     
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  18. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Okay - the New York Rock and Soul Revue really has no bearing on Kamakiriad. A couple of songs are based on repetitive grooves - but really - not a factor in Kamakiriad, except that it got Donald out of the house and feeling creative again, I think.

    So - yeah - it's basically what it sounds like - a nice live concert of Rock and Soul. It seems Donald's live version of Green Flower Street was taken from this, if that helps any.

    You can hear it here:
    Live At The Beacon

    WARNING: There is much Michael McDonald on this. If you're allergic - please - use caution.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  19. Fullbug

    Fullbug Forum Resident

    a
    I think of FM as peak Dan. They were all over the radio in late 77 and early 78.
     
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  20. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Heh - this is cracking me up. Donald made a comedy album. I'm not kidding.

    Tom & Don Tapes, Vol. 1

    WARNING: Explicit content from time to time.

    I stumbled across this while doing some The Nightfly Trilogy research - although it apparently dates from 2013 or so.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
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  21. GeoffC

    GeoffC Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Hi, just wondering if you are going to detail the singles and promos, as I have several myself?
     
  22. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    We'll be doing those at the end, I believe. I'll definitely be reviewing my Trilogy: 10 Extras CD. :)

    It's included in The Nightfly Trilogy MVI set, and the Cheap Xmas digital box set:

    Donald Fagen - Nightfly Trilogy

    https://www.amazon.com/Cheap-Xmas-Donald-Fagen-Complete/dp/B009KN9VLM

    OOOOH - Cool! Amazon is saying that they're releasing physical media of this on October 20th!!!!

    https://www.amazon.com/Cheap-Xmas-Donald-Complete-Boxset/dp/B075CRMPKQ

    I know I have these discs already - but I'm going to get this!!!

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  23. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    You know, Pet Shop Boys should really cover "FM"...
     
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  24. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Music Appreciator

    Location:
    Eastern Iowa
    I got caught up in the cubs game
     
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  25. Galactus2

    Galactus2 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Virginia
    Ugh. A travesty so bad that I want to go outside and punch baby squirrels.
     
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