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Steely Dan - Katy Lied CD (album) cover

KATY LIED

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 90 ratings

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Gorloche
4 stars If PRETZEL LOGIC was built out of a kind of post-Watergate rage and confusion, then KATY LIED is built from what feels at least initially as a kind of elegiac sadness. Imagine an album structured after the fantastic "Charlie Freak" from their previous album and you get the idea. Not that anger doesn't appear; the opener "Black Friday" is one of the fiercest tunes STEELY DAN ever laid to tape, having a rough-and-tumble throbbing propulsive (okay, that's enough adjectives) rhythm to it, with distorted or overdriven guitars and dark, echoed vocals. But the rest, from "Rose Darling" to "Your Gold Teeth II" to "Any World" bleed a kind of sadness and perversion. Not a sexual perversion; perhaps dementia would be a better way to describe it. You can hear a combination of hope and pain in these songs that would gestate into the kind of blistering (for Steely Dan, anyway) rage of THE ROYAL SCAM.

For a long time, this was my favorite album by Steely Dan. This was primarily due to the dense atmosphere conjured on this album, rife with a kind of sadness and hazy heavy-heartedness that appealed to me. I think, looking back on this album, that these elements are what make this album interesting in the face of both Steely Dan's other records and fusion in general. In fact, it may be best to generalize this outward to Steely Dan's output in general; while a great deal of fusion was built around an admittedly somewhat masturbatory approach to exploring texture (and don't get me wrong; I own my fair share of fusion records and it is a big musical inspiration for me), Steely Dan was focused on writing songs. And with that territory, of songs versus instrumental pieces, there comes a focus on building mood, development of mood, and all of these other things that are part-and-parcel with pop songwriting. It grounds their musical excursions and those of their guests in a way that I think is somewhat alien to a lot of listeners of this type of music and is perhaps why they were held back from the archives for so long; while other bands free up their sonics to explore anything that may fit the moment, Steely Dan stayed true to the emotional intent of the piece, keeping them relatively unadventurous internally, even if no other group sounds like them.

That having been said, there is a kind of... disconnection here, for lack of a better word. These songs are perhaps not as polished as I would have liked, which is ironic given their record. And there is certainly an amount of roughness or directness missing from the mix which I think hurts these tunes. But overall, it is still a wonderful album. Four stars.

Gorloche | 4/5 |

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