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Steely Dan - Katy Lied CD (album) cover

KATY LIED

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.67 | 161 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

After the break up of the group (first started by Skunk's defection to Doobie Brother's infection, prior to PL's release), the group collapsed, but the masterminds stayed together as a team, vouching to become a studio band (which is what they were anyway) and never to tour again (until the 90's I think), but everything was to be rebuilt as they had no manager (probably wouldn't need one) but still a label that gave them the go-ahead under the duo's diktats. So heading back to the studio with a fill of song, they called up old acquaintances from previous album and started recording the tracks. The album came out with a very ugly insect artwork (and stupid title) and sold quite well, but there was no single and apparently the duo were extremely displeased with the album's sound, but my take is that the batch of songs was not up to par with the albums to come and the CTE album. It seems to follow up on PL's idea of having a bunch of really short songs, the longest is a reprise of Your Gold Teeth from their Countdown, and it is barely above 4 minutes all in normal usual song verse-chorus format or close enough that we don't see the difference, and those usual hate-worthy chorus lines.

Apart from a fairly lively Black Friday (the failed hit single about that '29 crisis) with good double piano play and Becker's good lead guitar, the album is a slow boring suite of songs. If Bad Sneakers is not yet catastrophic, it does sounds uninspired (excepted for the lead guitar breaks, when they come around), but Rose Darling (and its sexual antics), Daddy (upbeat and guitar-friendly but ultimately boring) and Doctor Wu (this is as close to a title track as you'll get here, with the opening Kati tried lyrics) with its unwelcome sole sax solo >> don't you hate when an instrument is popped up from nowhere, brought up to the forefront for one single solo and never heard again on the album??? For me this is an example of poor song writing that plagued the second part of the 70's. That and Michael McDonald vocals on choirs. No wonder the Doobies went stale when first Skunk Baxter than McDonald joined them.

The uneasy lyrics of Gone To The Movies are only part of the creepy groove that SD install (excellent drumming and percussions) from the start makes it an highlight. The second instalment of Your Gold Teeth (from Countdown) fails to match its predecessor, yet it is a peak in this album, precisely because it's the jazziest of all their tracks on the album. The album closes on the seriously uninspired blues Chain Lighting (ciggies of course) with Derringer's solo in the middle, the boring filler (and bored itself) Any World, the seam-less Little Ones, which punctuates the album's lack of plot and consistency.

Certainly not much an improvement on Pretzel or Thrill, Kati might just be the "group's" low point in their "studio-only years", mostly due to indeed relatively flat production and recording, but also relatively weak songwriting (by SD standards); but let it be known that a bad SD album is still a good album, because of the usual Dan-esque subtleties sprawled over the album.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |

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