Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Steely Dan - Citizen Steely Dan CD (album) cover


Steely Dan

Jazz Rock/Fusion

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Kind of hard to see these guy's output from 1972-1980 as distinct albums for me. Although they were well regarded amongst my fellow prog fans in the late '70's, the music didn't really click with me. Then in 1993 (hungry for fresh prog meat) I treated myself to this box set. Pretty much all of phase I of SD crammed into four CDs.

I finally "got it" although it means I can never appreciate or review the albums on an individual basis. Frankly there's no bad music in this collection. It's a mixture of just simply great music with many progressive moments. I think I was originally biased against them due to their commercial success. Now I am totally accepting of their progworthiness. King Of The World is my favorite, but they all have their "charm". It's the only one with an apocalyptic theme. Most of the rest is just about everyday life, even if some of it isn't applicable to most of us. What really hooked me on Steely Dan was just the sheer quality of the musicianship and the well done genre traveling and transcendence of the music. There's got to be something in there for just about anyone.

One experience helped to endear the music to me to me. I had just had this box set for a short while when I went on a company field trip to survey public housing units in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and took it along for the ride. Had my first visit to strip club (it's a military town, though the show was rather tame). Lots of risqué themes in the songs shall we say.

Report this review (#181256)
Posted Sunday, August 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is 70s band that I had never paid any attention to because I thought the band did not deliver something rockin' until in 2002. I was at local CD store famous to classic rock / progressive rock collectors in my country. I saw this boxed set and was not interested to buy, actually. But when my next visits to that store rpeat many times and I found no new prog or classic rock CDs that interested me at that store, I then looked at this Steely Dan's boxed set. I was surprised looking at the printed price Rp. 125.000,- (USD 14) I thought it was mispriced but the store keeper (after phoning the head office) told me that the printed price was correct. What? Typically, compilation boxed set with four CDs would cost around four times of that printed price. So I called up my colleague to know who Steely Dan was. My colleague told me that Steely Dan was one of major acts of 70s music. So I purchased it , even though I knew nothing about the band.

Well .. at first spin of the first CD, there was nothing that really catchy for my ears. All music flows naturally and nothing really hooked me in melody or composition, it's just easy listening plain music, no challenge at all to listen to the music. I then moved to second CD, almost the same feeling's just an easy listening music with no catchy song. I forced myself to play all four CDs even though I was bored at CD Two, actually .. as the music is just flows to my ears and not really engaging my mind to observe further. I can conclude the music is a blend of pop and rock plus some flavor of jazz ... Do you know El Chicano? Some of the music reminds me to El Chicano. The music of Steely Dan is I think only suitable for relaxing ...not for thos proggers who really take an adventure and challenge with progressive music.

So, I think this compilation serves good for Collectors. It's not a bad compilation at all. I enjoy the booklet telling the history of the band. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#182001)
Posted Sunday, September 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I don't like compilations, and box-sets in particular. It must be really something unique to attract me and convince me buying the old stuff in new clothes. I prefer original albums as produced, played and even visually designed by artists. It was their statement, no matter how imperfect or flawed in technical terms it may have been.

Citizen Steely Dan is a lump sum of all their studio albums from 1972 debut till 1980 Gaucho that marked the end of that period of their work. Even the tracks are sorted chronologically in exact listing as they appeared on original releases but sequences are discontinued between discs, so if you want to listen to Countdown to Ecstasy only, you will have to change from disc 1 to disc 2.

If you are a fan that keeps all original albums in collection you don't need this package unless you are a die-hard completist. Oh, yeah, there are several bonus tracks: Bodhisattva live showing that SD was in fact a real rock band once upon a time, Here at the Western World which already appeared on their first compilation Greatest Hits in 1979 and negligible demo version of Everyone's Gone to the Movies. Nothing crucial to justify the purchase. A friend of mine made a copy for me and I plan to rip them all into mp3 player, divide them into original albums track listings and add cover images. Only in such a way I could listen to it.

Report this review (#235047)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Steely Dan, as much as I like a lot of their music, is one of those bands that make me scratch my head when I find them included here. Sure, they have more jazz influence than most other rock or pop bands out there, but they are way too poppy to be fusion, and the prog moments are few and far between.

There. I got that off of my chest.

For the Steely Dan newbie (are there any?), I guess if you can find this set at a good price, it's worth picking up. It contains everything from the seven original LPs, plus a few B-sides, a live recording of Bodhisattva, a demo version of Everyone's Gone To The Movies, and of course, the track FM, originally released on a movie soundtrack. If you already own all of the albums, there's not much to draw you to this collection.

So, there are some very good songs on this, although by the time they recorded "Aja" and "Gaucho", their sound was becoming formulaic, and often boring. But there are plenty of good tracks.

Report this review (#458268)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When I first came on to the page for Steely Dan, I was shocked at the low rating for this compilation. I couldn't understand how I was seeing ratings of two and three. Luckily, through the power of reading, I understand and can see the reasons behind the lower ratings.

None of that stopped me from giving them a easy five star rating for this one.

I was born in seventy-two, I was three when Gabriel left Genesis, Return to Forever released their last album when I was four and Steely Dan broke up when I was nine. (Yes, I realize that both Return to Forever and Steely Dan reunited at some point, but stick with me, I'm going somewhere here). Most of these artists were bands that I really discovered many years after the initial peak, and a lot of times the discoveries included the words, 'Oh yeah, I remember, my Dad used to have that tape, we'd listen to it in the car'.

As I insinuated earlier, Steely Dan, is one of those bands. I was looking at my Dad's CD case not too long ago and found the compilation. I said, "Hey, what's this?" I was familiar with Steely Dan, but didn't recognize the set. He explained that his record player didn't work anymore and the cassette tapes had long since bit the dust so he got the set of all their earlier songs. I was pretty impressed and borrowed the set. Every song was like going down memory lane for me, I was still familiar with many of the more popular tunes that still get airplay, but some of the deeper ones were so cool to hear again. "Pretzel Logic", "Josie", "Dr. Wu", "Fez", "Don't Take me Alive" and "My Old School" were just fantastic to hear again. The hits are fantastic to me as well, "Peg", "Dirty Work", "FM", "Rikki Don't Loose That Number", "Hey Nineteen", "Deacon Blues" . . . I could go on.

They are fantastic musically, Donald Fagan is one of my favorite piano / keyboard players, and Walter Becker is no slouch either. Their songs are intelligently arranged with catchy melodies and intricate solos.

You won't find a twenty-five minute epic with multiple costume changes, but you will find crafty, and admittedly, poppy songs. I don't know how proggy I would consider them, but the important thing here is that someone else has considered them proggy enough to be included here. I never had the original releases, so for me, the compilation gets full credit rather than a lower mark as simply a reissue of material that I already owned. For me, this is easily a five star set.

Report this review (#903433)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This box set, released in 1993 during Steely Dan's original comeback tour, collects every original album track released during the first phase of the group's career (1972-1980), in chronological and album order on 4 CDs/cassettes, plus various non-album rarities scattered throughout. One could almost think of this as replacing the original albums in that case, arguing that if you have this box set, you really don't need the albums, and vice versa (of course I'm crazy enough to own both sets.), so this is essentially a review of the non-album tracks, of which there are four.

The live version of "Bodhisattva" from the July 5th, 1974 show in Santa Monica, CA (the Dan's last gig for 19 years), is the only one to be officially released during the's band original tenure, as the B-side of "Hey Nineteen" in 1980. Prefaced by a memorable two-minute introduction by Steely's MC-in-residence, the constantly inebriated Jerome Aniton (who actually introduces Donald Fagen as "Mr. Steely Dan"), the band powers through with a fire not heard on the studio version. Even though Becker/Fagen did not like performing live in the least, the band nonetheless had a reputation for producing exciting, high-energy concerts, and some say that the '74 band was their best, with the double-drumming of Jim Hodder and Jeff Porcaro. The sound quality may not be that great today, but Steely's live engineer, Dinky Dawson, was a genius in his time (being the first person to mix the audience live with the band), and so this recording should be listened to with that in mind. This rendition appears in the middle of disc 2 in between the tracks from Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied.

The next track, "Here at the Western World" on disc 3, was originally released on 1978's Greatest Hits compilation and recorded during the Royal Scam sessions (and appears here between those tracks and Aja) but probably would have fit better on Katy Lied, as it's a gentle, piano-based medium-tempo tune typical of that album. This song about hanging out at a brothel (the "Western World") contains a typically stellar guitar solo by Dean Parks, emotionally affecting in its own way. Pop fans take note: one of the background singers on this track is the late Kasey (Kvitka) Cisyk, a national treasure in her ancestral homeland of Ukraine, best known for singing the original "You Light Up My Life" before Debby Boone replaced her vocal tracks for a Big Hit cover version of the tune.

Two rarities abound on disc 4: "FM," from the little-known 1978 film of the same name, also appeared on 1985's compilation A Decade of Steely Dan as the lead-off track. For the second and final time, Becker/Fagen employ a string arrangement, this time by Johnny Mandel of "MASH" fame; the chart employs rich, full jazz chords and string sections typical of Mandel. In another return appearance, Pete Christlieb ("Deacon Blues") blows his tenor sax again, and here's where we have an exclusive to this box for the first time; the version heard on the FM soundtrack and Decade feature a Walter Becker guitar solo at the end, but the version on this box, previously heard only on the closing credits to the movie, feature another Christlieb sax solo over the same ending loop. Christlieb gives it his all on this one, and his collaborations with Becker/Fagen would prove fruitful, as they produced his jazz album with fellow tenor Warne Marsh, Apogee, released in 1978 on Warner Bros. (Longtime Dan guitarist Denny Dias also assisted with production duties on that album, which by the way is essential listening for any fan of post-bop and West Coast jazz.) "FM" appears here between Aja and Gaucho.

The final track on disc 4, and on this box, is another exclusive: the rare 1971 demo of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" (a song which originally appeared on Katy Lied) with the original band of Fagen, Becker, Dias, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and Jim Hodder. Stripped down to the basics, this version is much funkier than the later version (that guitar line will stay with you for days) and has less restrictive chord movement in the verses (the choruses are basically the same); of note is that Fagen's (?) keyboard solo on the album version was originally a Skunk guitar solo with the chorus at the end, as it appears here. Background vocals are supplied by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of the Turtles, who were calling themselves "Flo and Eddie" around this time; their parts should be fairly easy to pick out.

Although some people probably thought this was the complete representation of Steely Dan on record at the time, that couldn't be further from the truth. The pre-Can't Buy a Thrill singles "Dallas" and "Sail the Waterway," as well as various pre-Dan demos released as bootlegs, are conspicuous by their absence, solely because Becker/Fagen had trouble finding anything in the vaults that they liked. Of course now, most everything by the Dan can easily be found on places like YouTube, including those early bootleg demos, which certainly wasn't the case in 1993! The booklet includes a hilarious letter by Becker/Fagen to MCA vice-president Andy McKaie on this very subject, along with a lengthy press release regarding the comeback tours as well as various Dan artwork and paraphernalia. Only the most die-hard Dan fans will care about this sort of thing, though, so as great as this music and box are, I can only recommend it to them despite my high rating. 4.5 stars out of 5.

Report this review (#1630578)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2016 | Review Permalink

STEELY DAN Citizen Steely Dan ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of STEELY DAN Citizen Steely Dan

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives