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Steely Dan - Gaucho CD (album) cover

GAUCHO

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.59 | 102 ratings

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Isa
Prog Reviewer
2 stars |D+| A pretty disappointing follow up to the wonderful Aja.

Steely Dan is a great band that I've been getting into quite a bit the past couple years, and I bought this album around the Christmas before last after falling in love with Aja, for this was the follow up album, and I had heard from others that this was one of the duo's best works. To this day I still just can't really get into it nearly the same way, and I've listened to it plenty of times, enough I think to make a fair judgment on the album's quality, which is pretty much in the average department. As with many pure pop albums, this album has a couple good hits to start of, and the rest is very filler sounding material to me.

In this album, versus many of the band's previous albums, Steely Dan seems to blend the jazz, pop, funk, and synth-ish prog rock flavors of their music less effectively. It seems like I'm always hearing one or two of those combined, rather than a cohesive combination of all at once as it was in previous albums. It's like putting food in a blender and not finishing the job, getting a chunkier, less tasteful result. The horn arrangements are very good (and what caliber of musicians; we even have the Brecker Brothers!!!), one of the better qualities of the album, but serves to compliment the music less effectively. Same with the keyboard arrangements, which are the prominent component of the proggy flavor of most of their music overall.

There are some additional things that the duo used to make the music different from the previous album, none of which I'm too fond of. There is much more use of the high pitched female vocals than ever before, which gets a bit irritating in some tracks where they clearly weren't needed and do little to enhance the music. Also Fagon's voice has a more nasally tone to it, which I also find slightly irritating, though that's a relatively minor flaw. Another thing: just look at the huge number of musicians on this album. I think the band got overboard with it and so focused with this that they forgot some of the things with the composition itself.

But what mainly bogs the album down, in my opinion, is the shear amount of what sounds to me like filler. The only songs really worth hearing (and they're quite excellent) are pop-rock standards Babylon Sisters and Hey Nineteen, as well as the proggier and jazzier Gaucho, probably my favorite track on the album. Everything else is pretty much mediocre at best or very below par (the last two tracks would have just been better never thought of and put on paper, let alone on a Steely Dan album). Glamor Profession was way too drawn out for the musical ideas it presented, which weren't necessarily bad ideas, just mediocre. Time Out of Mind is pretty average as well.

I would only really recommend this album to Steely Dan fans or collectors of what has been dubbed crossover prog. Really, the band's classics can be found on a good compilation anyways, and other than the track Gaucho, everything else can be pretty much ignored.

Isa | 2/5 |

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