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Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 215 ratings

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3 stars Countdown to Ecstasy ? 1973 (3.4/5) 11 ? Best Song: Bodhisattva

Still utilizing the vasty unpredictable session musician menagerie, the band steps things up a notch, stepping an inch away from pop and an inch toward pure jazz in the process. It seems the first song in any given Dan album will be destined to be a fiery dueling number where guitars, pianos, organs and all manner of instruments crash together in a slew of smartly written and fluidly performed solos. 'Bodhisattva' fills this role perfectly. It rocks as hard as you will, but maintains the line between wittiness and commercial success ? a goal the band always had set their sights upon. 'Razor Boy' is a shift toward more lightweight theatricality, with a smooth singing, and a soothing backing instrumentation. I'm actually surprised at how much I enjoy the band. Fagen and Walter Becker sure know their musical shit. The numbers are consistently exciting, just like before, if maybe a little more experimentation causes a distinct sacrifice in accessibility. It's as if a band took the Brian Wilson approach to songwriting a la 1966, but instead of focusing such 'forced perfection' in making a 'masterpiece' they focus it on just being accessible and smart ? smarter than half the shmucks who buy their records or so they'd think. So, this is perfectly accessible music. Their focusing on one side of the story does tamper with the other sides, however. Much of the music this time around feels derivative of itself as opposed to the sporadic nature of the debut, and in all the songs see a little boring when stacked together this way. Still, how can you argue with such impeccable playing ability?

Alitare | 3/5 |


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