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Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic CD (album) cover

PRETZEL LOGIC

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.63 | 103 ratings

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Gorloche
5 stars Let me openly state that this album, PRETZEL LOGIC, has settled in as my favorite STEELY DAN album period. It took a long time, and it had to fight off certain strong contenders like KATY LIED and AJA, but it eventually took. As a drummer, I am particularly fond of how this album brought us the inimitable talents of JEFF PORCARO, one of the most profoundly satisfying and tasteful drummers I have ever heard. He never lets it rip on this album, which is a shame in a certain way, to be sure, but all of his drum parts provide such a strong back bone to the songs on this album that it is hard to complain.

Outside of Porcaro's amazing drum work, the songs on this album are also fierce, strong, beautifully voiced and played, and of a piece. Despite being short, these songs feel like they belong together; I've always felt this album plays more like a suite than a collection of songs, given the way that each tune feels rather incomplete alone but flows perfectly mood-wise into whatever follows. You have a cool and relaxed opener in "Rikki" which leads into the fierce and dark "Night by Night", the lyrically melancholic "Any Major Dude", the deeply in-the-pocket and grim (if poppy) anti-racism tune "Barrytown" (even though it is sung from the perspective of a racist, the way the voice seethes with contempt evokes a certain something that makes it clear that the narrator was not meant to be entirely likeable). Then we get two tunes that are placed brilliant, those being a DUKE ELLINGTON song and an ode to CHARLIE PARKER, two wonderful black musicians. "Through With Buzz" and "Pretzel Logic" seem to be songs of reconciliation, or at least an attempt at such, with uneasy music and questioning lyrics that sound like a man trying to come to grips with the world he is in. And if they are attempted reconciliation, "With a Gun" is a collapse into madness, with the tempo being picked up a substantial amount and the music compensating with a somewhat manic feel. "Charlie Freak" and "Monkey in Your Soul" let the listener down gently, letting off the building cynical steam. This is the album, in my mind, that really built their legacy as cynics bar none.

The music sounds simple, but if you attempt to play along with it or follow the chord changes, you begin to notice that Steely Dan has really started to love rapid, bebop-inspired chord changes with large extensions and interesting uses of nondiatonic chords for color. "Barrytown" shifts sonically about halfway through due to the breadth of the chords from a jazzy piano-based number to a weeping kind of honky-tonk pop piece. This album and it's breadth of sounds brings to mind THE DEAR HUNTER, with the use of early jazz sonics, interesting and progressive arrangements, and the general assortment of sounds and genres touched on that normally are overlooked by most progressive groups.

A brilliant, near-perfect album (I would go out on a limb and say the closer, "Monkey in Your Soul", is perhaps a bit TOO mild for its own good). Five stars.

Gorloche | 5/5 |

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