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Reassessing Steely Dan's "Gaucho" (almost 37 years later)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by johnny 99, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    First, WENDEL was built by Roger Nichols because he was asked to do it by Becker & Fagen. He wouldn't have done it on his own. They asked for the drum machine. Secondly, WENDEL is only on "Gaucho" and "Nightfly". To my knowledge, it's on "Two Against Nature". I also doubt Steve Gadd cared to much what happened to his drumming so long as the check cleared.

    Ed
     
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  2. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen "Live music is better!"

    Location:
    Canada
    Indeed, Nichols built WENDEL at Becker and Fagen's instigation- I just have to wonder how long it took for them to rue the decision. As we established in the Steely Dan album by album thread WENDEL actually wasn't used on 2VN, which surprised even me! (It is also used on Kamakiriad, which sounds painfully obvious when one listens to the album). And, no, Steve Gadd might not have cared if his drumming got WENDELized but I know damn well I would have had I been drumming for them, I would have been telling them to take my drum tracks off the record and use somebody else's. Listen closely to "Hey Nineteen"- they tweaked the drum track so much it throws Becker's bass line out of whack, especially when the "Cuervo Gold" section comes around, it makes it sound like Walter was rushing on the bass, which was most likely recorded with Rick Marotta's live drums.

    Sorry, I don't like WENDEL. No matter how well intentioned the idea behind it might have been, the damned machine sucked all the life out of the drum tracks. Note to Becker, Fagen and Nichols: there is a such thing as "too perfect"!
     
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  3. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I've seen no evidence in the album credits nor do I hear any evidence of Wendel being used on "Kamakiriad".

    You wouldn't have been in a position to make that demand. Session players do what they're told and they leave. The check comes and that's it. In the case of Steve Gadd who worked "triple scale", that check would have been the salve for anything that ailed him creatively...LOL! When musicians worked for Steely Dan, they knew what they were in for. It has never been in a session player's best interests to care what happens. The only thing they can be concerned about is if the check clears. You pitch a fit, you don't get hired again. Word gets around and you've got a big problem.

    I really only dislike it on "Glamour Profession" because it just feels so relentless there. Otherwise, I'm pretty much fine with it but I get why others aren't.

    Ed
     
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  4. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen "Live music is better!"

    Location:
    Canada
    I think it was used, but then the drums on Kamakiriad sound so programmed it's hard to believe that outside of "On The Dunes" where it's obvious that it's a human drummer, that they even used a real drummer at all. The drums on most of the album sound programmed to me...and really crappy sounding programmed drums at that.
    Yeah...safe to say I wouldn't last long as a session guy:laugh: I'm too used to running my own show and doing things my way musically. Such is life when yer a one man band/producer etc:p
    "Glamour Profession" I can handle, it's "Hey Nineteen" that drives me buggy, the drums make Becker's bass playing sound sloppy.
     
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  5. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    Gaucho took me awhile. I love it now but Nightfly is much better I think.
     
  6. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Searching For Simplicity

    Location:
    Midwest
    I like your point of view :)

    Re: "too perfect", I agree. I'd have told those guys: the more you think, the more you stink.
     
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  7. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Searching For Simplicity

    Location:
    Midwest
    I must concur.
     
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  8. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    Maybe not WENDEL but definitely machines all over Kamakiriad (which is the most sterile of the whole catalog. I always say that it sounds like it was recorded in a hospital.)
     
  9. blaken123

    blaken123 Your Greater Tri-County CD Superstore

    Location:
    United States
    I'm a "new" Steely Dan listener and Gaucho is my favorite (not by much... they have my favorite overall discography, along with Zeppelin). There's this idea that Gaucho is a poor reiteration of Aja, but I don't agree! Gaucho is a pretty innovative album, I think. It gives the impression of a single, album-length groove, broken up here and there with some lyrics and riffs. It's kind of like My Bloody Valentine's Loveless... there are individual motifs, but they all kind of blend together, which I think is great, but I could see how some people would think it's boring or monotonous. Maybe one needs to "chase the dragon" a little (or even catch it?) to fully appreciate this record?
     
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  10. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    This is the first I'm hearing of that too. I've never detected them nor do I see anything in the credits alluding to them.

    Ed
     
  11. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    If that's true, we wouldn't have gotten "Aja". This wasn't about overthinking; this was about them trying to figure out where to go after "Aja" and, IMHO, not being able to do it. If I were them, I'd have stopped after "Aja" rather than "Gaucho".

    Ed
     
  12. strummer101

    strummer101 The insane on occasion aren't without their charms

    Location:
    Lakewood OH
    I'm happy you're not them. I love Gaucho.
    :tiphat:
     
  13. sonofjim

    sonofjim Forum Resident

    Gaucho’s about where I got onto Steely Dan. Hey Ninteen was on the radio about the time I was in 8th grade and I immediately loved it and could tell it was different somehow. Fast forward all these years, I’ve discovered the whole catalog. Still love that song and the whole album. It sounds fantastic on the original vinyl too but a quiet copy is hard to find.

    I know I’m in the minority but I would buy a One Step Ultra of Gaucho way before Bridge Over Troubled Water.
     
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  14. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I think I was a little harsh, honestly. Sometimes we do that. I dearly love "Third World Man" so I'd have missed that if we didn't get "Gaucho". "Glamour Profession" is alright too even though it's a bit claustrophobic sonically. If only for those tunes, I'm glad they did "Gaucho". I just wish the rest of it were a bit more memorable.

    Ed
     
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  15. strummer101

    strummer101 The insane on occasion aren't without their charms

    Location:
    Lakewood OH
    No worries. I like to tip my hat to any fan who knows what's best for the band. Just a gentle ribbing, meant in good fun. :cheers:
     
  16. Nostaljack

    Nostaljack Resident R&B enthusiast

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Touché! LOL!!! I know nothing; none of us do. We're just fans who want our favorite groups to get it right and when we feel they don't, it bothers us. To my ears, they got it so right on "Aja" and seemingly didn't know what to do on "Gaucho". It should have been titled "The Afterburners of Aja". They obviously took much time on it and I just wished for a better end result. I don't hate it; just wish it were better. :)

    Ed
     
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  17. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen "Live music is better!"

    Location:
    Canada
    Can you imagine a Steely Dan album produced by David Briggs?:laugh::yikes::laugh:
    I think I said that in the album by album thread- once they realized they couldn't out-Aja Aja, they basically decided to hell with it, let's not even bother. And it shows.
     
  18. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Searching For Simplicity

    Location:
    Midwest
    That’d be interesting, to say the least :)
     
  19. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    For those looking for a review of Gaucho as self satisfied and pointless as the album itself. They should have included this review as liner notes on later copies.
     
  20. Same with me. The only song where the drums really lack energy.
     
  21. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Happy with the sacd.
     
  22. bigredheadone

    bigredheadone Active Member

    Location:
    North Texas, USA
    :laugh:
     
  23. maxwell2323

    maxwell2323 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    What about Wendell II ?
     
  24. misteranderson

    misteranderson Forum Resident

    Location:
    englewood, nj
    Harvey Mason, from a 1981 issue of Modern Drummer:

    Then there are times when what an artist may demand seems unreasonable. Mason has experienced relatively few such situations, but like many musicians, cited Steely Dan as being extremely difficult to work with “and with the money they wish to pay, it isn’t worth the mental anguish. They repeat and repeat, with no explanation as to why, so you really don’t know why you’re having to do it. I do like their records, but they really don’t have any earth shattering innovations for all the time and money they supposedly spend.”

    I don't remember which album Harvey was called in for, but he obviously didn't have a problem speaking his mind.

    As for Gaucho, I've loved it since the day it was released. No, it's not as good as Aja or The Royal Scam, but the title track, Time Out of Mind, and Third World Man are among my favorite Dan tracks.
     
  25. ramdom

    ramdom Hoarder Hearing

    Location:
    Perth ON, Canada
    Back in the day and after an interminable 3 year wait, and, most importantly, being the follow-up to the timeless Classic that was/is Aja, Gaucho was...perplexing and initially a little disappointing to me. But knowing Fagen & Becker I simply kept playing it as hidden charms were revealed slowly, sumptuously. It proved to be a "grower" in every sense. Yes, it was a departure; super slick production sheen; solos seeminglyburied in the mix (requiring deeper attention); songs seemed either melancholy and obtuse or bouncy disco-jazz. But it was Steely Dan. And in a way it became more of who they became with their comeback records and Fagen's solo albums (The Nightfly, Kamikiriad, Morph the Cat...) than all their previous works leading up to it. Never again would they have that Rock n' Roll sensibility infusing their work (The Royal Scam, Can't Buy A Thrill, etc) but more of a sophisticated ultra-smooth sound became the norm. Gaucho was a landmark and an end-of-run masterpiece. IMHO.
     

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