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Steely Dan - Aja CD (album) cover

AJA

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.08 | 180 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 1. Black Cow - 5:10 2. Aja - 7:57 3. Deacon Blues - 7:37 4. Peg - 3:57 5. Home at Last - 5:34 6. I Got the News - 5:06 7. Josie - 4:33

Undoubtedly, the pinnacle of this great band's career. I've always seen SD as being a prog band through and through, and now that Miles Davis has been added to PA's massive discography, it has made way for more and more jazz rock bands that are not as highly recognised in the prog world as say, Mahavishnu Orchestra. I am very pleased with this, and the direction PA's now going in. Now on to the actual tracks.

There isn't a single bad song on this album, as with all legendary albums of any era. Black Cow is a stunning chilled out number with what sounds like Bernard Pretty Purdie on drums, splendid Fender Rhodes and some great backing vox. This is one of my favourite songs by Steely Dan. But then comes the all time classic, arguably one of the best song EVER, Aja is a masterpiece in the highest of rights. From the very first notes on the piano, it is the perfect progression that demonstrates the songwriting genius of Donald Fagen. The jazz style guitar is truly brilliant and the drum solos... Oh my god! The drum solos, courtesy of the great Steve Gadd, are world class and should be listened to by every self-respecting drummer! I really mean it. Enough said, you have to listen to it yourself: a true epic.

Deacon Blues eases down into mainstream territory, but still keeps the musicianship of the previous two songs on a high. A fantastic tune with one hell of a saxophone solo to close it off. Only Steely Dan coined this style of song perfectly, and if you like jazz then you will, without a doubt, love this. Peg is a funky number that puts me in a good mood everytime. The rhythms portrayed by Bernard Purdie and Walter Becker are truly dancing quality and extremely tight. Complex vocal harmonies elevate the chorus to the standard of the rest of the album, so this is yet another strong SD track and a favourite at live shows.

Home At Last is a ballady type number with some tasteful piano and quite a cropped arrangement, once again a skill that is easily recognisable in Donald Fagen. I Got The News is another funky number with some splendid electric guitar and some really solid jazz influences. Underneath the vocal line, i perceive this as quite a complex song with a very classy rhythm in the backing. It almost reminds me of the small jazz groups of the 50s like The Dave Brubeck Group etc... Josie tops the album off very nicely indeed, and is a personal favourite of mine out of the entire SD catalogue. Some brilliant rhythm guitar is a pleasure to listen to, tight drumming and a stylish use of brass even more so. Recommended!

Altogether one of the best albums of all time, for jazz, rock, pop and even prog, there is something for everyone. Of the prog community, you will probably favour Aja the most for its progressive jazz nature, but all the songs are splendid in their own right. 5 stars, a masterpiece of music, let alone prog.

The Pessimist | 5/5 |

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