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Steely Dan - Gaucho CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.69 | 156 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Gaucho could be a metaphor for the closing of a decade full of illusions (and their inevitable disillusions), and it's got definitely a downbeat to it, as if the party was over and the hangover was settling in after a short night sleep (almost three years). Having really been exposed to sD since AJA and being only 14 at the times, I had cast-off Aja as Adult Oriented Rock and with the same reasoning Gaucho a few years later and the whole of SD's oeuvre I hadn't discovered, I passed by this album royally worried with so many other more exciting music. Falling regularly on articles acclaiming SD's music in the late 90's, I went back to the library system and rented a few albums, and gradually started warming to it, but still today, I can't help thinking of finely-crafted AOR done by ultra industry professionals, and throughout the group/project's history, only Royal Scam really appears to have a bit of real RnR rebellion, the rest of their albums sticking too closely to radio-friendly FM stations with those McDonald choruses (I still have problem with those), so Gaucho seems like a quiet jazzy- goodbye to an industry that they served

If the album starts strong enough with a typical (and slightly reggae-ish) SD track, Babylon Sisters, probably the rockier track on the album, yet so suave and full of brass and studio artefacts, that the rock is almost faded out. Hey Nineteen could be a Dire Strait or JJ Cale track (from their debut album) if you make abstraction of the soooo-typical Dan-esque vocals and even has a bit of a disco beat. The album-longest track, Glamour Profession has a latter Oblivion Express feel, but again relies on disco tricks, here the awful binary rhythm, although a good pedestrian bass buys back some of the credit lost on drums

The flipside opens on the title track, which personally I really don't like, courtesy to those overly-sweet chorus vocals acting out as confession and trampling the rest of the track to bits & pieces. The binary disco beat comes back with Time Out Of Mind and are so annoying that you'd forget Dire Strait's Mark Knopfler's guitar interventions and overshadow the fine arrangements. But SD is nearing its end and it's quite obvious when listening to the lazy and uninspired My Rival, with little to stop from yawning away if the good guitar solo, while the closing Third World Man is a fitting goodbye track to their fans, but I find their mellow tones to be some sort of hiding scheme to their lack of inspiration aqs the end of the road had been reached.

With Gaucho, ends SD's supposedly perfect trilogy, and somehow it is an excellent one, but it signals the end of their collaboration under the SD tag (Becker & Fagen would often cross path in the 80's) until their revival in the 90's, which I have yet to investigate, and quite frankly, am a bit wary of discovering. So it's at the top of their game, but at the top of their disillusions as well, that Gaucho was made: literally spotless, but lacking the spark and humour of The Royal Scam, but it's likely to please most SD fans.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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