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Steely Dan - Aja CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.17 | 262 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Smooth

Those familiar with Steely Dan know their style - pleasant jazz/rock with a hint of prog that makes for a very nice listen. While this is not what all proggers are looking for in their music it certainly makes for a nice combination and a good addition to the crossover category. Aja is often considered to be Steely Dan's best offering out of their limited discography, and it's not hard to see why. The euphoric blend of sounds makes for an album to sit back and indulge in, and while it may not be the most demanding piece of music ever written it still makes fora good time.

One of the most notable qualities of the music is just how 'unoffensive' it is. This works as both a plus and a minus, really - it means that you can put this album on in the background and walk away from it, let it play and come back a little bit later and comment how nice of an experience that was, but it also means that if you're looking for a sonic barrage that could be put on by the likes of Gentle Giant with their complexity, or the aggression of other groups then you're very much in the wrong place. Aja is quite radio friendly (which is probably the best way to put it), and while it may be high ranking on the list of sophisticated jazzy pop-rock it will never have the same amount of oomph as other, more dense records that catch on with the 10th listen and change your life when they do. With this album it's more of a ''what you hear is what you get,'' and while that is some good pleasing music, it never really makes you want to run home and slam the album on so that you can partake in its mysteries.

Still, what they do, they do very well. The musicianship on this album may not be wildly experimental like other seminal artists, but it is very tight and well written. The album is very 'soft' in its approach, but it does go strait to the heart with its melodies, so while it may not be an album that yells at you to listen to it again it does hit the spot when you finally find the time to put it on. The first side of the album is particularly impressive, with opuses like the magnificent title track, Aja and the melodramatic Deacon Blues carrying its sad notes throughout. The second side tends to be a little more 'accessible' with more traditional structures and songs that you've probably heard played to death on fm radio. Peg has some pleasing saxophone stings in the short and catchy tune while Josie is a little bit more upbeat and fun. Home At Last probably makes the best use of the sax in the context of the album, and moments of it even feel like more traditional jazz before coming back into the more rock aspects of it.

In the end this is a very good album. Worth many listens, but it will probably never grab the average prog head quite like other releases will be able to do. 3 stars out of 5 for a good album - recommended for those who enjoy some jazzy rock, but people who may consider the softer end of the rock spectrum to be boring should be warned, because they may just find themselves calling the album just that.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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