Steely Dan

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by chet again, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Tele-Meister

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    When I was a kid just musically coming of age, Gaucho was their current album and getting radio play, so that record has always had a special place for me, especially "Time Out of Mind". Pretty early into the CD era I picked up a copy of A Decade of Steely Dan, which introduced me to their older stuff. I always liked them, but I only really came to appreciate them later on, after years of listening to and playing music. As I learned more about music, I've come to understand how a lot of my youthful favorites did what they did, a bit of pulling back the curtain, which doesn't necessarily mean I like songs less, but they may not be as amazing and mind-blowing as they were when I was younger. Except for Steely Dan. Decades on, I'm still blown away by what they do. The more I learn about music, the more I can get out of their work.

    I don't think anybody else in the last 60 or 70 years has managed to meld the sophistication of jazz with the catchiness and accessibility of pop the way they did. Unfortunately some fans from each side of that spectrum looked down on them for the influences of the other, but in the grand scheme of things I think history will vindicate them.

    A few years back, they did a series of shows here in Chicago in which over several days they played shows featuring the full start-to-finish albums of The Royal Scam, Aja, and Gaucho. Aja has always been one of my wife's favorite records so we went to that show, although left to my own devices I would have opted for Gaucho (but I love Aja as well). Walter Becker was still around. In retrospect I wish I'd just bit the bullet and gotten tickets for all of them, because they had Larry Carlton playing with them for the Royal Scam show.
     
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  2. Muddslide

    Muddslide Friend of Leo's

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    For the most part, Steely Dan are a little too close to fusion for me. I find a lot of their work a bit too polished and smooth for my liking.

    That said, they also have a lot of songs that I think are clever and brilliantly executed, with great musicianship.

    I dig some of their tunes peppered throughout their discography, but my favorite album by them, hands down, is Countdown to Ecstasy. For some reason, the majority of Steely Dan songs I like are on that album.
     
  3. chet again

    chet again Tele-Afflicted

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    I re-read the Larry Carlton interview and he said he used an old Fender Tweed Deluxe for the Royal Scam solos (along with his Gibson 335).
     
  4. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Vermoulian, interesting points. If you think of other acts around that time that were also trying to blend jazz, rock, and pop, Steely Dan definitely stands out, IMO. Chicago was one.
    Then there were fusion acts like Return to Forever. I'm sure there were many others that don't come to my mind at the moment, but that's kind of the point. There's a whole bunch of Steely Dan songs
    that have stood up over time. Not only were they at the pinnacle of analog studio production, but they knew how to write catchy tunes with interesting lyrics and strong hooks.

    Or to think of it another way, nobody else sounded like Steely Dan. All great acts develop their own unique, signature sound that doesn't sound like anybody else. They did that. Love them
    or hate them, but at least they were unique. I can respect any band that pulls that off successfully, even if I'm not a fan of the music. I generally don't have much interest in bands that
    seem totally derivative to me. Of course all acts borrow from others....and so there can be debate as to how iconic a particular act really is. But I don't think there's much debate on the uniqueness
    of SD.
     
  5. MDent77

    MDent77 Tele-Afflicted

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    Brilliant writing with many fantastic guitar solos. IMO still worth seeing live Donald Fagen can be a little rough vocally but the band is top notch; Keith Carlock {Drums} & Freddie Washington {Bass} have killer groove and they're like glue.
     
  6. Muddslide

    Muddslide Friend of Leo's

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    Well said. I agree. Like I say, I dig quite a few SD songs, but most of their work is not really up my alley.

    They fall into a category for me of bands or artists who I admire but don't necessarily care to listen to much of.
     
  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would put Zappa in that category, too. I can admire him for his uniqueness, but I don't really care to listen to it.
     
  8. Dr. Bill

    Dr. Bill Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't forget Donald Fagan's The Nightfly. Basically Steely Dan without quite so much irony.
     
  9. bcorig

    bcorig Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Ha! I’ve had that thought on several occasions. Phil Woods’ solo is breathtaking (I had a College Dorm mate who was a jazz guy and loved Phil Woods so I actually knew who he was).
    I recall when the Beatles showed up American R&B songs, which I grew up on, usually included sax solos. They just replaced that with guitar solos and fills. And Roger McGuinn was listening to Coltrane. The DC 5 had a sax but it was mostly for rhythm or instrumentals.
     
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