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Steely Dan - The Royal Scam CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 202 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Deciding on a final star rating for "The Royal Scam" wasn't easy. It's probably one of Steely Dan's most "progressive" efforts, in the conventional prog-rock sense. However, "The Royal Scam" is not one of my favorite albums by Steely Dan, one of my top five favorite bands. Therefore, my final rating has to be in the 3.5 - 4 star range.

I work with a guy named Tim who, besides having other great qualities, is as much of a Steely Dan fanatic as I am. It's always good to find a kindred soul, isn't it? "The Royal Scam" is his favorite Steely Dan album. Another PA reviewer, Chicapah, hit the nail on the head with the term "biting cynicism". Tim has a sardonic sense of humor, so maybe that has something to do with his opinion. "The Royal Scam" has always seemed a little cold to me.

TRS does have longer songs and is less instantly accessible than Steely Dan's other albums. In that regard, it does fit the standard definition of "prog-rock" However, complexity in itself is not always a good thing. One of Becker/Fagen's biiggest strengths is their ability to write attractive and interesting music and arrangements.

My favorite tracks on TRS are Kid Charlemagne, The Caves of Altamira, and Everything You Did. The guitar playing, which seems to be led on this album by Larry Carlton and Walter Becker, is brilliant as always. I think this is an underrated aspect of Steely Dan's music. Why more teenagers don't idolize Walter Becker, Jeff Baxter, or Denny Dias instead of Eddie Van Halen, I'll never know!

The title track, "The Royal Scam", overstays its welcome. It's simply too long, and the brass parts are grating IMO. I'll place "The Royal Scam" in the four star pile for it's progressiveness. It's not Steely Dan at their best, but Steely Dan on an off-day is better than most bands every day.

thwok | 4/5 |


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