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STEELY DAN

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Steely Dan picture
Steely Dan biography
Founded in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA in 1972 - Disbanded in 1981 - Reunited in 1993 up until Becker's death in 2017 - Inducted into Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 (Performer)

In the year of our Lord, 1967, at the esteemed institution of higher learning known as Bard College located in Annandale-On Hudson New York, two jazz loving musicians met and decided to form a musical partnership that would cast a long shadow over American music over the 1970's and whose reputation and stature has only grown over time with new generations discovering their music and appreciating their unique and uncompromising way of making music. Never associated with progressive rock... yet.. as progressive as any group asssociated with progressive rock. Music made with crytic, highly intellectual lyrics grounded not in mythology or sword and sorcery but in the experience of living in 1970's America. Full of dark humour, social commentary delivered with a biting sarcasm by one of rock's greatest unappreciated lyricists. The music itself was a highly demanding unique treatment of the jazz-rock fusion that was so fresh and creative in the 1970's. The music though was not a mere vehicle for musical indulgence, expression, or wankery but was presented in a mainstream context with the music, and the lyrics being strengths that set the group apart from contemporaries in the jazz-rock scene. Tales abound of multiple retakes, from the greatest instrumentalists in American music, repeating complex parts over and over till they met the demands of the groups leaders. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

Fagen and Becker at Bard and discovered a shared passion for the music of Brubeck, Coltrane, Ellington, and Charlie Parker. During college.. like all of us music loving college have done..they formed several bands that explored their love of jazz. After Graduating in 1969 they left for New York City to try their hands at becoming songwriters and selling the songs they had written together. While that did not pan out for them, they did make an acquaintance in Kenny Vance of 'Jay and the Americans', that would set them on the road to success. They got their first taste of life on the road as back-up musicians and even doing the soundtrack for the low-budget Richard Pryor film 'You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It'. However their most important contact was soon to come. Gary Katz of ABC Records.

Katz took Fagen and Becker under his wing and in 1971 brought them with hi...
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STEELY DAN discography


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STEELY DAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 262 ratings
Can't Buy a Thrill
1972
4.07 | 265 ratings
Countdown to Ecstasy
1973
3.72 | 229 ratings
Pretzel Logic
1974
3.74 | 199 ratings
Katy Lied
1975
3.78 | 228 ratings
The Royal Scam
1976
4.18 | 394 ratings
Aja
1977
3.71 | 209 ratings
Gaucho
1980
3.36 | 120 ratings
Two Against Nature
2000
3.02 | 94 ratings
Everything Must Go
2003

STEELY DAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.74 | 35 ratings
Alive in America
1993
2.00 | 1 ratings
Maria McPartland & Steely Dan: Piano Jazz (Radio Broadcast)
2005
3.29 | 7 ratings
In Concert
2008
3.18 | 2 ratings
Going Mobile
2013
3.67 | 6 ratings
Northeast Corridor
2021

STEELY DAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.25 | 9 ratings
Classic Albums: Aja
2000
3.57 | 18 ratings
Two Against Nature
2000
2.18 | 3 ratings
In Concert
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Dilectus
2012

STEELY DAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
Fagen & Becker: You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It (OST)
1971
4.00 | 2 ratings
Steely Dan
1978
3.61 | 15 ratings
Greatest Hits
1979
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Very Best Of
1979
3.00 | 2 ratings
Steely Dan
1981
3.86 | 2 ratings
Walter Becker / Donald Fagen - The Early Years
1983
3.69 | 19 ratings
A Decade of Steely Dan
1985
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Very Best of Steely Dan: Do It Again
1987
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin' In the Years
1987
3.18 | 13 ratings
Gold ( Expanded Edition)
1991
3.92 | 6 ratings
Then And Now - The Best of Steely Dan
1993
3.42 | 23 ratings
Citizen Steely Dan
1993
4.00 | 8 ratings
Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980
2000
3.60 | 5 ratings
The Definitive Collection
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of
2007
3.33 | 3 ratings
The Very Best Of
2009

STEELY DAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
Dallas
1972
3.75 | 4 ratings
Reeling In The Years
1972
3.00 | 4 ratings
Dirty Work
1973
3.75 | 4 ratings
Show Biz Kids
1973
4.20 | 5 ratings
Pretzel Logic
1974
4.00 | 4 ratings
Bad Sneakers
1975
3.80 | 5 ratings
Haitian Divorce
1976
4.25 | 4 ratings
Kid Charlemagne
1976
3.75 | 4 ratings
Black Friday
1976
3.25 | 4 ratings
Josie
1977
3.00 | 3 ratings
Four Tracks From Steely Dan
1977
4.00 | 5 ratings
FM
1978
4.00 | 4 ratings
Do It Again
1978
3.67 | 3 ratings
Do It Again (Hazlo Otra Vez)
1978
3.75 | 4 ratings
Peg
1978
3.88 | 7 ratings
Rikki Don't Loose That Number
1979
3.25 | 4 ratings
Hey Nineteen
1980
3.75 | 4 ratings
Time Out Of Mind
1980
3.33 | 3 ratings
Reelin' In The Years
1982
2.00 | 2 ratings
Remastered: A Sample of Steely Dan
1993
2.00 | 2 ratings
Sampler
2000
3.00 | 4 ratings
Cousin Dupree
2000

STEELY DAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Everything Must Go by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.02 | 94 ratings

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Everything Must Go
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

3 stars Although this has some of the same issues as Two Against Nature, their previous comeback album (some lackluster songs, same slow jazz groove), it has a warmer, more engaging feel throughout as well as overall better songs, which make it a much more enjoyable listen. The best songs here are better than anything from 2AN, and 'Everything Must Go' makes for a fine and fitting final song for the band. But these later albums just can't quite live up to the earlier period albums. Best songs-'Last Mall', 'Things I Miss the Most', 'Everything Must Go', 'Godwhacker'. Weakest songs-'Green Book', 'Lunch with Gina' rating 3.0
 Two Against Nature by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.36 | 120 ratings

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Two Against Nature
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

3 stars Steely Dan made a big splash with this comeback album, their first in 20 years, and it was great to hear the unique songs and style of Steely Dan again (There is just no one else that sounds like Steely Dan). However, although the album successfully resurrects their style and warped vision once again, this is still their overall weakest collection of songs. Other than 'Two Against Nature' and 'Cousin Dupree', which stand out as the best (and most different) tracks, most of the rest of the album consists of the same slow jazz-funk groove, and relative to the rest of their catalog, are just somewhat lackluster and not very memorable. Still a decent album, but their weakest overall. Best songs-'Two Against Nature', 'Cousin Dupree', 'Jack of Speed'. Weakest songs-'Almost Gothic', 'Negative Girl', 'West of Hollywood' rating: 3.0
 Gaucho by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.71 | 209 ratings

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Gaucho
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

3 stars This was their troubled last album from the 'classic' period, which, unfortunately, has always left me a bit cold. There are some fine tracks here as well as their usual great production and musicianship throughout. But this one stretches their softer, slower smooth jazz focus to the limit, resulting in a somewhat dull and sterile feel. Production and arrangements are a bit too perfect sounding. I prefer some of the discarded tracks from the 'Lost Gaucho' sessions to those that made it onto the final album. Still a quite good album, but relative to everything that came before this, a much weaker entry. Best songs-'Babylon Sisters', 'Time Out of Mind', 'Hey Nineteen'. Weakest songs-'My Rival', 'Glamour Profession'. rating: 3.5
 Katy Lied by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.74 | 199 ratings

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Katy Lied
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

4 stars This was the first full album where Steely Dan was no longer an actual band and consisted entirely of Fagen-Becker, and an assortment of guest artists and session players, and the result was a noticeably softer, more laidback sound and jazzier pop arrangements and style. But a wonderful collection of varied and quirky songs still made this a great album, but less rockin' and a bit of a letdown from their previous (or even subsequent) efforts. Best songs-'Chain Lightning', 'Rose Darling', 'Any World Your Welcome To', 'Your Gold Teeth II'. Weakest songs-'Everyone's Gone to the Movies', 'Throw Back the Little Ones'. Rating: 4.0
 The Royal Scam by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.78 | 228 ratings

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The Royal Scam
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

4 stars Great production and great use of guest musicians (a veritable feast of session players, including guitarists Larry Carlton, Elliot Randall, and Dean Park, Rick Marotta and Victor Feldman on drums and percussion, as well as various sax, horns, and backing vocalists). Larry Carlton's killer guitar solos on 'Kid Charlemagne' and 'Don't Take Me Alive' are legendary. A much more diverse, energetic, and edgy assortment of cool songs than on Katy Lied (also a bit more rockin') boosts this one up another notch to put it among their best albums. Best songs- 'Kid Charlemagne', 'The Caves of Altamira', 'Don't Take Me Alive', 'Sign In Stranger'. Rating: 4.5
 Aja by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.18 | 394 ratings

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Aja
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

4 stars This album marked a more distinct change in style, with the full embrace of the cool jazz-funk sound and arrangements, and less rock elements. Remarkable and meticulous production, arrangements, and musicianship throughout raise this above their previous couple albums (Katy Lies and Royal Scam), even though they have some songs I like better. Just a remarkable achievement in melding expert jazz playing with the Dan's pop-rock melodies. Many great instrumental sections, such as Steve Gadd's sensational drumming through the latter part of 'Aja', etc. (but also the end of anything much resembling rock in their catalog). Best songs-'Aja', 'Deacon Blues', 'Home at Last', 'Josie'. Rating: 4.5
 Can't Buy a Thrill by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.59 | 262 ratings

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Can't Buy a Thrill
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

4 stars Their wonderful debut album filled with great pop-rock songs made its mark on the top 40 and introduced their unique sound and style to the world. Contains their most straight-forward, accessible, and radio-friendly songs, showing great melodies and hooks, but also being uniquely Steely Dan. The different lead vocals (David Palmer and drummer Jim Hodder) on some songs is a bit unsettling relative to the more familiar Fagen vocals, but the songs are great. Best songs-'Only a Fool Would Say That', 'Reelin' in the Years', 'Do It Again', 'Change of the Guard'. Sure, this is not prog, but it is still great, and has most of those quirky Steely Dan moments. Rating: 4.5
 Countdown to Ecstasy by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.07 | 265 ratings

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Countdown to Ecstasy
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BBKron

5 stars Of their several great albums, for me, this is The One! The Holy Grail of Steely Dan Albums, and one of my all-time favorite albums. Blazing start with 'Bodhisattva', one of the greatest album-opening tracks ever. They are a real band here (prior to being a a mix of studio session players), and this one mostly rocks throughout (Skunk Baxter's guitar solos are tremendous). Contains what I consider the four pillars of Dan-dom: 'Bodhisattva', 'Your Gold Teeth', 'My Old School', and 'King of the World', but the rest are great as well. Perhaps the quirkiest, adventurous, and most eclectic of all their albums ('Show Biz Kids' is flat-out weird), but fantastic stuff all around. Never been another album quite like this, even among other Steely Dan albums. Best songs- the 4 pillars already mentioned, plus 'Razor Boy', 'Pearl of the Quarter'. Rating: Definite 5.0
 Aja by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.18 | 394 ratings

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Aja
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With Aja, Steely Dan achieved worldwide success, stardom. After a long march of perfecting recording technique, mixing, and music studio production, the Fagen-Becker duo, which always had talented musicians at its side, arrives to release a great album with some 40 session-men. Becker himself play the role of a session man: he will devote himself more to composition and production control than to play bass or guitar (once he plays bass, often he plays only the solo guitar parts, in two important songs he is absent, he does not play: the first of the two sides, Black Cow and Peg, the latter will be their main hit). Donald Fagen is the absolute leader: he composes all the songs with Becker, sings (often singing backing vocals as well), plays piano and synthesizer with great taste and balance. And here's to you one of the best-selling records in rock history. A jazz- soul-funky-fusion pop disc, with retro touches of swing and be-bop. Nothing to do with real progressive rock.

1) Black Cow. The first twenty seconds immediately define the atmosphere, genre, and ideological sense of the album: - cocktail-lounge evening in New York for satisfied bourgeois; - languid, relaxing soul-funky-blues music (the drums beat time loosely, lazily, almost tired from the first bars); - reactionary, anti-rebellion music, status quo forever, enjoy Manhattan and capitalism. The squence is: Verse-Chorus with female choruses, arrival of woodwinds, Verse-Chorus, very dull Fender Rhodes solo (Viktor Feldman), Chorus, final one-minute coda where the voices repeat the Chorus while a tenor saxophone (Tom Scott) tries to liven up the song with a crisper solo than the music heard so far (perhaps too much alcohol or too many drugs in the cocktail participants: they are all narcoleptic). Loffy of high-class music, with cynical lyrics: "Like a gangster/ On the run /You will stagger homeward/ To your precious one/ I'm the one/ Who must make everything right/ Talk it out till daylight". Rated 7.

2) Aja. The atmosphere, genre and ideological sense don't change (and will not change, except for a few nuances, throughout the album). The sequence is: Verse-Chrous-Verse-Chorus played and sung with more grit than Black Cow. Convincing especially the rhythmic vocal part by Fagen. Then starts a long instrumental interlude that is perhaps one of the best moments in Steely Dan's entire discography (and also one of the few genuine prog moments in their songs). Whistle solo played by Fagen, then repeated flanked by good work by Becker on electric guitar, then the pace picks up and there is a jam piece where the drummer (Steve Gadd) and saxophonist (Wayne Shorter) give their best. The music seems to go back to where it started, but instead the sax and tribal rhythm starts up again (we are at the climax of the piece, and of the whole album), and then finally back to the beginning: Verse-Chorus-Final coda that picks up the instrumental interlude but pointing to a more sustained percussiveness, which ends on the high notes touching on psychedelia. Masterpiece of the album, almost unclassifiable syncretic jazz-rock fusion music. Rated 8.5.

3) Deacon Blues. Conventional soul floppy and relaxed like the opening, but with a less lazy rhythm. The sequence is: Verse-Chorus, Verse-Chorus, beautiful sax solo (by Pete Christlieb; the woodwind accompaniment is worthy of the 1950s), and then back to Verse-Chorus and ending with woodwinds. Of course, female choruses in the refrains. (Aja is also saved because it doesn't have these sweetish choruses). Clearly the cocktail participants all end up with diabetes, too many Daiquiris. Or too much cocaine? But, in anycase, this is not a bad song, it is just a narcissistic song. Steely Dan are masters in framing bittersweet catchy refrains:

"Learn to work the saxophone I play just what I feel Drink Scotch whiskey all night long And die behind the wheel They got a name for the winners in the world I want a name when I lose They call Alabama the Crimson Tide Call me Deacon Blues"

Rated 7.5

End of the first side. The second side is less relaxed and relaxing than the first side.

4) Peg, a soul-funky rhythm song with the structure Verse-Chorus-Solo-Verse-Chorus-Final Coda. The refrain features the usual soul choruses, this time not female but entrusted to the falsetto of Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers) and Paul Griffin. The guitar solo is by Jay Graydon. More rhythmic and upbeat song than those on the A- side. Peg was their best 45 rpm: very easy listening. Rated 7+.

5) The next Home at Last is a more serious song, opened by a jazzy piano and a syncopated blues rhythm. The (uncredited) horns trace the sounds of Deacon Blues, at least until, after the Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus sequence, comes an instrumental interlude that breaks out of the dominant musical key with a flicker (finally!) of trumpet (or Fagen's synth?) that gives a fantastic, faux-improvised jazz feel to the piece, which is followed by Becker's solo on electric guitar. Rated 8.

6) I Got The News. Another neurotic song: with this track the listener realizes that the quality of the music has risen. Again a jazzy piano appears and a syncopated rhythm punctuated by great work by Ed Green on the drums. But the best part arrives after the sequence Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus with the bridge structured on horns and a change of musical key, which becomes higher - the chorus of female voices (with in addition McDonald) plays a notable part. The song ends with a nice climax reached by Fagen's vocals, followed by a guitar solo (Becker or Carlton?). Almost improvised ending, the most jazzy part of the entire album thanks to Fagen's almost dissonant phrases on the piano, Rated 8.

With the last two songs, the second side definitely leaves behind the relaxing music of the first side and introduces into the music the neurosis present in the hedonistic bourgeois lifestyle in which it is set.

The final song: 7) Josie is perhaps the grittiest song of the Lp, with a very African-American funky groove: led by the riff of Larry Carlton and Dean Parks on rhythm guitars, the song enchants with its rhythm (Jim Keltner on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass), indulged by yet another catchy melody. Sequence: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus, then beautiful guitar solo by Becker, new chorus - and Final coda. Excellent, it almost sounds like a rock song! Rated 8+.

With this close, Fagen and Becker end the album on a high note. This snooty, snobbish jet-set music, with its impeccable production, its velvety, soft, glossy arrangement, is tremendously sophisticated and, at the same time, so darn light and catchy that it can't help but put you in a good mood - or at least relax you and make you want a cocktail.

It is a high-class easy-listening that treacherously stimulates your lower instincts, the languid and hedonistic urge to enjoy Western pleasures. You can hate this music, but it's hard, damn hard to hear it as bad, not to take the slightest pleasure in listening to it. Fortunately, there are 3 songs out of 7 that are only a masterpiece of production (as, moreover, is the entire album) and not a masterpiece of inspiration, not a masterpiece of composition (these songs are too light and slurred : I'm talking about Black Cow, Deacon Blues and Peg), otherwise I should have put 5 stars on this album. So, instead, I can stop at 8.75/10, which is 4 and a half stars.

 Pretzel Logic by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.72 | 229 ratings

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Pretzel Logic
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by OctopusFive

3 stars What do we have in this album? the third of Steely Dan.

Well, we have soft pop tunes impeccably played, fluid, and conventional (i think of Rikki don't lose that number, which is a nice ballad).

Oftentimes, we have what I would call standard rock-soft songs, pleasant to listen to, fast-paced and I noticed some chorus similar to Crosby, Stills, Nash (we can feel it, especially in Rikki Don't Lose That Number and With a gun).

And some off-the-beaten-track tunes like East St Louis, a pure traditional instrumental that seems out of place but is very welcome as an interlude (Btw, it is the single jazz-grounded track on this album), or intimist song ( Any Major Dude Will Tell You), or a saddening ritornello (Charlie freak).

Overall, it is a very pleasant album to listen though it contains several songs appreciable but unmemorable ( Night By Night, Barrytown or Parker's land) and others more atypical, more "hidden".

This is not so jazzy, kinda soft pop/rock. I saw a wink to Chicago Transit Authority, same period, similar style, in the eponym song Pretzel Logic, but excepting that, it fails to fall into the category of jazz rock for me.

I'll give this album a 3 with the desirable critic of rather an ordinary album but nice to listen to plus a few real gems.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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