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Steely Dan - Katy Lied CD (album) cover

KATY LIED

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 89 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

micky
Prog Reviewer
4 stars *Steely Dan Act IV: The Artist emerges from the cocoon...fully changed*

'Starting with Katy Lied, I simply accepted that, since EVERYTHING they had done to date had been outstanding, it was likely that this new thing was outstanding, too. I also knew that I would probably have to spend some time with it, before I would really get it. If things didn't sound quite right at first, I knew it was my problem...and that they would, in time, sound perfect.'

a random internet fan of Steely Dan.

'Machines 10, Humans Nil' - Walter Becker

Picking up where we left off with Pretzel Logic. With the new album in the can ABC sent the road weary band back on the road to support Pretzel Logic with another tour. This tour featured some important faces that would come to help to define Steely Dan's signature.. and very unique sound. Michael McDonald was enlisted as a background singer and Jeff Porcaro, not scared off by the noose in the barn stayed with the group. The tour, musically, was a fabulous success but it was the final straw for Becker and Fagen and after a July 4th 1974 show in Santa Monica Steely Dan folded up shop and 'broke up' as a band. Becker and Fagen found themselves back in LA with no band, no manager, no plans. After some soul searching ABC Records head Jay Lasker was approached with the idea to bring Steely Dan back to life, not as a touring band, but as a studio only outfit. Though skeptical about whether their careers would survive, he gave them his blessing and Becker and Fagen retired to their new home at ABC studios on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Once again in an unused office at the studio with only a couch, a piano, and a lamp they worked away on new songs. Steely Dan the band was dead. Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter was off to join the Doobies. Denny Dias was around and hanging around the studio and would be the only original group member to contribute to the album. Porcaro was off playing with Sonny and Cher but was brought back to play on all the new songs but one. In place of a working band Steely Dan recruited some familiar faces from past albums to play on their new songs and slowly, but happily spend the rest of the year perfecting their new songs and earning the reputation as task masters who demanded perfection from every performance. Repeating take after take till everything sounded perfect to them, as I said in an earlier review... till not a note was out of place. The album was released in March of 1975 and again was a critical success with rav reviews from the musical press. Commercially the album was again a disappointment to ABC though the album did well reaching #13 on the charts. No singles managed to dent the charts. Black Friday was the closest thing to a hit but only made it to #37 on the charts. The album is sort of a sore subject to Becker and Fagen who did not listen to the album in final form because of sonic imperfections in the recording due to a faulty machine. To this day... no credible account has come from anyone as to where these imperfections are. If you know them... again.. PM me.. I'd love to know. To these ears is a perfectly produced album. Oh yes before the review of the album itself... there is the subject of the cover. The insect on the cover is a katydid from the family Tettigoniidae, an insect more closely related to crickets than grasshoppers. The album cover was a picture that Fagen's girlfriend Dorthy White took and loved, so it was used as the album cover. The album's title was a joke based on a play of words. 'Katy lied? Katy did.' Personally it is my favorite album cover from them

The album kicks off which a beast of a cut. The fabulous Black Friday. Jeff Porcaro's crisp brisk drumming leads the 3 headed musical monster through a tale of a stock speculator who retires to Australia with his ill-gotten booty before the market crash of 1929. David Paich and Michael Omartian duel on electric piano and the brand new Bosendorfer piano bought just for the album respectively. While Walter Becker leaves the bass duties in the master Chuck Rainey's hands and delivers a blistering guitar solo. Fagen's vocals here are strengthened by the UNMISTAKABLE vocals of Michael McDonald in the songs chorus sections. A great.. great album opener. Bad Sneakers is next up. A song about the unease of living in LA and away from their native New York City. Listen carefully to the guitar solo by again Walter Becker. It reportedly was painstakingly composed..at the rate a bar an HOUR. The stand out part of the perfect piece of music by Steely Dan are Michael McDonald's soulful vocals in unison with Fagen's. Rose Darling is next up the opening line is a line that I swear I can not sing without having a smile on my face. Another song whose cryptic meaning is completely unknown to me. I think it is vaguely sexual though. Anyone know who or what Snake Mary is supposed to be hahhaa. A bright preppy tune with Omartian's piano being the star of this. Next up....ooooohhhhh... if I had to pick ONE.. only one Steely Dan song that I would only be to listen to for the rest of my life... it would be this one, Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More. The intro with Porcaro's half step snare and cymbal crash entry behind Becker's guitar just hooked me from the first listen. Stinging guitar licks galore with Fagen's snearing voice relating the tale of a broken down wiseguy. Something I noticed about Steely Dan.. more since their addition that is, I been looking even more closely at their musical structures. They often use interesting twists on song structure. The longest song on the album is just over 4 minutes. But few of these songs fit traditional song structure. Daddy Don't Live in New York City is yet another example. The song consists of 7 verse sections with the odd one.. the 5th serving as the instrumental break if you will in conjunction with a few bars of guitar. The organ leads the lead into the 2nd, 4th 5th, and 7th verses are just that perfect sonic touch that make sounds special to us. Where someone who hears this song may think.. yeah.. great song .. one of MANY great songs. That intro.. those organ leads are just the little things that make the song for me the Steely Dan song that encapsulates everything I love in the group. Doctor Wu closes the first side of the album.. maybe one of the most analyzed song in the Steely Dan catalog. Often reported to be about Heroin abuse and the tale of a love triangle between with Doctor Wu (heroin) the singer and Katy. The music is another heavily jazz influenced composition with a laid back vibe with the piano leading the melody. The saxophone solo here by Phil Woods is a classic Steely Dan moment. One of the real high-lights of Steely Dan. A classic song.. one that I heard on the radio not long after getting into them.. and led me directly to this album. Which in tern led me to becoming a life long fan of the group.

Side two opens with Everyone gone to Movies. The most depraved song you will ever hear that will have you tapping your toes and smiling as you sing. Such a happy sounding song. I giggle how many people laugh and sing along to the song not knowing.. or realizing the song about Pedophilia hahhaha. What genius's they were. The joke was on those who bought into them.. but didn't realize what they were getting into. A nice Caribbean tinged song with great harmony work in the chorus sections. Your Gold Teeth II is up next. One of real progressive workouts on the album, at a mammoth 4 minutes and change. Listen to Porcaro's drumming on this. Don't think he hadn't been listening and learning from the jazz masters. Sources are unclear on who plays the fabulous guitar solo on this.. but it might be Denny Dias. Which makes sense.. being such a jazz freak as he was. Like we like to say about Crossover prog.. this is prog any fan could love.. packaged in an easy to digest form that those who would turn up their noses at what was traditional labeled prog would love. Letter perfect. Some take 18 minutes to say what they want to say.... Steely Dan did it in 4:14. Chain Lightning is up next. Much like Pretzel Logic on the last album.. a fling with traditional blues structure. Yet ... have you ever looked at the lyrics. A shout out to who PM's me and figures out what they are referring to. They are not ambiguous... just not exactly pop related subject matter. Definitely not in a 'blues' jam. Jeff Porcaro steps out from behind the kit on the next one. Any World (that I'm welcome to) and in steps drum legend Hal Blaine. Great drumming and the lyrics really hit home as to state of the world we live in. As appropriate now as they must have been then. The album closes with a song I wanted to have as a sample here, but as of now hasn't been loaded onto the site. Another song that traditional prog fans will immediately identify with. The outro section in the song is one of my favorite moments of the song. Odd time signatures shifting meters.. and odd instrumentation. A great way to close a truly great album.

Rating the album. Another hard one to rate. Start to finish this is Steely Dan's best album so far with not ONE weak moment on it. Moments of overt prog bliss... and lots more of a more subtle nature. The album is beyond all doubt my favorite from the group and in my top 10 albums ever. This album.. and Porcaro's drumming led be to try my hand at drumming and on one memorable night to hand off my bass and sit behind the kit and sing and drum to my band's cover of Daddy don't Live in that New York City. A moment I'll never ever forget. For me 5 stars plus.. an album I'll be buried with. For the site.. 4 stars.. for you.. the best is yet to come as the jazz influences become less subtle and more overt. For me.. they equaled.. but never topped this album.

Michael (aka the big Mick)

micky | 4/5 |

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