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Steely Dan - Aja CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.18 | 401 ratings

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Matthew T
Prog Reviewer
5 stars They got a name for the winners in the world I want a name when I lose . Well that was not the case for the slick sixth album that was released by Steely Dan in 1977 with a sound that seemed just right for the time. Heavily influenced by Funk,Jazz and Rock and considered the bands best album by many of the critics.

Once again Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are at the helm and are Steely Dan as there is no one left but Denny Dias on guitar from the the original band and his appearance would be the last. Denny Dias was a true original as he could have been considered the actual founder of the band as it was he who advertised for the two main members. The three girls are here. Venetta Fields.Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King and a few others,including Mike McDonald doing backing vocals. There are seven guitarists alone making contributions to this album including Walter Becker and a different drummer is used on every song except Bernard Purdle ( Highly regarded session musician) gets to do two, Deacon Blues and Home at Last. Massive Production that had to be as close to perfect that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker could achieve as usual with thir approach to recording. An absolute giant of Jazz makes a contribution that being Wayne Shorter who provided the solo to the title track Aja and most likely at the time was glad to have the work.

Black Cow is the song that gets the album underway and is one funk cocktail from begining to end with the backing vocalists singing the highs and Donald Fagen doing the rest.. The title track is up second with a jazz and rock influence and Wayne Shorter leaves his stamp on the tune and could be considered the best track of the album but for me the following Deacon Blues and the song Home at Last are really the only primarily straight rock songs on the album and too this day are still my favourites as they were back in 1977 when I purchased the record. There is not a shabby track on this album either as the prevoius album The Royal Scam but this was the album that made the band a legend in modern contempary music.

I often wonder at the time of release if the music would have been funked up as much if the music scene at the time was not primarily disco and soul and that was really the only style getting the majority of airplay but whatever it really was a hybrid sounding album and one that I immediately liked and around then for me rock music and prog were in a bit of a decline.

Masterpiece definitely but no more than their other albums that I have reviewed and I started to miss the more rock and pop sound of the band from earlier days. All the same this is a must have album and one that I still play 32 years later.

Matthew T | 5/5 |


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