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Steely Dan - The Royal Scam CD (album) cover


Steely Dan


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 202 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Looking back at Steely Dan's career arc, I might have been tempted to have left them for dead after Katy Lied. What a mistake that would have been!

It's just amazing to me how much better Steely Dan sound in nearly every aspect with Royal Scam: better lyrics, faster tempos, solos with some real passion, and most of all, not a single "throwaway" song. I enjoy each song on Royal Scam, and I think most offer a unique contribution to the album, classic Gentle Giant style.

The album opens with an absolutely killer set of songs. Kid Charlemagne features some of my favorite guitar work on a Steely Dan album, and part of this results directly from the song structure. For the bridge, there's an opening call-and-response between the keys and guitar, which only builds the tension for the extended solo, over a brilliant chord progression to boot. With Caves of Altamira, the Dan find the perfect balance--in my opinion, of course--between their smooth jazz leanings and some genuine attitude...and of course it doesn't hurt to have an absolutely infectious chorus. Right after this, we're treated to Don't Take Me Alive, with one of my favorite guitar lead-ins to any song. You're digging the groove so much, hoping--just begging!--for the guitar to take one more phrase. And what do you know? They do! Great track.

And that's just the first three songs!

Nothing that comes after equals the opening trio--at least musically--but I enjoy the generally snarky tales to be found in Haitian Divorce and Everything You Did. And the title track is no slouch, although perhaps a little overlong.

Special mention to the public service announcement against unprotected sex that is The Fez. Don't ever do it without a fez on, to all the kids out there!

All in all, Royal Scam is just a great album...perhaps my favorite by the Dan. It appears that rumors of their demise were indeed premature.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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