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Steely Dan - Countdown To Ecstasy CD (album) cover

COUNTDOWN TO ECSTASY

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 120 ratings

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tads51
5 stars Later Dan has its advocates - Ian MacDonald, for one, argues strongly for the merits of 'Gaucho' in his very fine 'The People's Music' - but I belong to the 'first 3 albums are the best' fraternity. Unlike 'Katy Lied', which, for me, marks the beginning of the Dan's decline, there's not one ounce of filler on this record. A much more cohesive affair than 'Thrill', the Dan's second album benefits from having a singular vocalist and, unlike the slick, session-man concoctions of the later years, is greatly enhanced by being the product of a working band (+ illustrious guests). The record is packed with musical incident and variety: the vibes on 'Razor Boy', the Rhodes workout on 'Your Gold Teeth', slide guitar on 'Show Biz Kids', synth on 'King of the World', etc. The Dan make a virtue out of combining mordant lyrics with a jaunty 'beat', the superb 'Razor Boy' being a case in point. But top honours go to 'King of the World'. Easily passed over at the back end of the album, this is surely one of the Dan's finest creations. Written from the point of view of a post-nuclear survivor, the lyrics are bleak, yet not without the customary wit - 'Watch the sun go brown/Smoking cobalt cigarettes' - and the upbeat arrangement, oddly enough, works with rather than against the 'story'. I find it all rather moving in an unsentimental kind of way.

Anyone thoroughly cheesed off with the Kaiser Chiefs/Arctic Monkeys/Scouting for Girls hegemony and U2/Coldplay-style corporate rock would do well to give this a spin. Not all 70's stuff involved sticking knives into Hammond organs or writing 'meaningful' lyrics about goblins and the like.

tads51 | 5/5 |

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