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Thread: Ok, what's so great about... Steely Dan?

  1. #26
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progeezer View Post
    And it's not so fine anymore when you compare it to what's grown indoors by botanical stoners all over the world now, so spell it any way you want.
    Either one probably shouldn't be forced to be in the same sentence as Cuevo Gold.
    Let's blow this dinosaur heap.

  2. #27
    Howdy Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Back when I bothered to listen to music on the radio, I didn't change the station when they came on like I did for about half of whatever got played on the radio.
    Never bought any of their stuff, though.

  3. #28
    In all honesty WHAT they wrote was brilliant. I may not like their style, but there is no doubt in my mind they were impeccable at their writing. And just a little insight on covering the material.....In the early 80's I traveled with a band that featured a Steely Dan show. I was hired on the reputation of playing Jean Luc Ponty solos on electric guitar and some other thing like somebody's sister's cousin married to a booking agent saw me .. Whatever?? First I'm asked to learn everything note for note . It took about a month . It required skill because after mastering the guitar solos I still had to warm up before playing them live. Steely Dan's music is structured in such a way that when performing it 5 and 6 nights a week to be perfection it can and will get the best of you. Their music demands technique and skilled control. If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed with a headache... take some Excedrin , plug in quietly and warm up. Otherwise you're gonna blow it! Lol! Interestingly ... if you've played Classical guitar, Jazz Fusion, Prog...Steely Dan would be another style that you could add to your Pandora's Box and it's not. Not easily you wouldn't. You have to communicate regularly with the other musicians on stage , kind of like an M.D. and even though the musicians are skilled they are not one hundred percent in their memorization of Steely Dan's material until it is cemented over time. You can practice it to perfection, but you're going to meet up with a different animal during live transmission.

  4. #29
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I mostly like the rocker stuff they did (Reelin' Bodhisatva, etc). Love the harmony guitar leads.

  5. #30
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    They had a brilliant run in the 70s, and were able to straddle commercial and critical success.

    Plus, they sound like no one else.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  6. #31
    Their spontaneity and rough edges. I don't listen to 'em much anymore, but I'd go with Count Down To Ecstacy, Royal Scam, and Aja out of the original seven.

  7. #32
    Jefferson James
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    Steely Dan illuminated the true potential of "rock" music, that it could be harmonically complex, verging on jazz, and yet still keep a greasy rock undercurrent. I got off the train with "Gaucho" but was delighted to find some gems on "Two Against Nature" like "Almost Gothic."

    Great songwriting.

  8. #33
    I found a used copy of the Citizen Dan box set for about 20.00. Only then did I realize how many of their songs I had heard on the radio and enjoyed, but didn't know who it was.
    The first thing I will say about them is they are among the most meticulous of any artist in their studio craft. The recording quality and mastering is almost always top notch. They weren't afraid to use a wide array of studio musicians for each album.
    You won't find a lot of excitement in the Dan's music, but I often find enjoyable grooves and nice hooks that aren't so repetitive that they can make you quickly hate them.

    My favorite Jazz vocal album of all time is Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly". For me, it beats any of the Dan's albums. That said, I won't compare his total solo output to the Dan's, as they had many great songs over the years.
    Here are 20 GREAT ones.

    Do It Again
    Dirty Work
    Midnite Cruiser
    Reelin' In The Years
    Bodhisattva
    My Old School
    Rikki Don't Lose That Number
    Black Friday
    Doctor Wu
    Chain Lightning
    Throw Back The Little Ones
    Kid Charlemagne
    Aja
    Peg
    Deacon Blues
    Josie
    FM (No Static At All)
    Babylon Sisters
    Hey Nineteen
    Everyone's Gone To The Movies

  9. #34
    Always have loved them - completely blown away by the level of musicianship and songwriting - their chord progressions are fucking killers.
    I notice a lot of posters saying they find the Dan too 'slick'. What does that actually mean? When I think of slick I think of King Crimson or Allan Holdsworth, as in possessing mind-blowing technique which I don't really think applies to Steely Dan - maybe two cultures separated by the same language?

  10. #35
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    When they moved to the west coast , the Dan got really tweeky with the tracks, tempo, production, etc.

    That's where the slick adjective comes from.
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  11. #36
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosebone View Post
    They had a brilliant run in the 70s, and were able to straddle commercial and critical success.

    Plus, they sound like no one else.
    Intelligent, somewhat ironic/sarcastic lyrics, amazing musicianship from everyone concerned, not your run-of-the-mill rock progressions or arrangements, and extreme hi-fidelity sound, all presented in "poppish" songs with memorable melodies and phrases. And yes, name me one other band that sounds remotely like the Dan.

    I'm a fan.
    "And this is the chorus.....or perhaps it's a bridge...."

  12. #37
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    I think slick refers to their pristine production values more than anything else.

  13. #38
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    What's NOT great about Steely Dan?

  14. #39
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    The one somewhat reasonable critique I've heard--or the one that jibes SOMEWHAT with my subjective sensibilities, to answer your question, Sean--is the nasal and somewhat snarky vocal tone. There are times I don't relate. But many times I do.
    "And this is the chorus.....or perhaps it's a bridge...."

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by wideopenears View Post
    And yes, name me one other band that sounds remotely like the Dan.
    Samurai.

    The Dan boys had better chops and production values, but all the basic ingredients of Steely Dan are in that sole Samurai album: the jazz chords in a pop setting, the tricky horn charts, the vibes, the sarcastic half-spoken lyrics.

    I'll bet that Donald and Walter listened to Samurai a lot before their Steely Dan fame.

    PS: I enjoy all eras of the Dan, and solo Fagan as well.

    EDIT: I may as well provide an example...



    "I love you Miss Maudie James. But would you stop your naughty games..." That could be pure Fagan.
    Last edited by arturs; 02-15-2017 at 04:54 PM.

  16. #41
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    I think slick refers to their pristine production values more than anything else.
    This.

    It was never their intention to be a touring "rock" band. They explain it all in the liner notes of all the remastered CDs.

  17. #42
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    My biggest problem with the Dan is that my favorite album changes over the course of a few months.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  18. #43
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    The first two albums are set in stone for me. After that it varies between Katy and Royal, and Pretzel.

  19. #44
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    I never bothered to pick up any of their LPs back in the daze, but, of course, heard the AM hits and the FM staples. I knew objectively that they were really good, just not to my taste (particularly the later couple of LPs).

    A couple of years ago I picked up all of the 70s albums and think they're ridiculously good, although I was somewhat surprised by their patchiness. Saw them last summer and was suitably impressed. Arguably, the best American band of the 70s.
    Michael: "Harold, don't you have any other music, you know, from [last] century?"
    Harold: "There is no other music....."

  20. #45
    Matt! polmico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    What's NOT great about Steely Dan?
    Apparently the slick.

    Also the polish.
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  21. #46
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mogrooves View Post
    Arguably, the best American band of the 70s.
    I rank them behind Chicago of the early 70s. Similar style with the horns, keys, vocals, great guitar, great songs.

  22. #47
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Samurai.

    The Dan boys had better chops and production values, but all the basic ingredients of Steely Dan are in that sole Samurai album: the jazz chords in a pop setting, the tricky horn charts, the vibes, the sarcastic half-spoken lyrics.

    I'll bet that Donald and Walter listened to Samurai a lot before their Steely Dan fame.

    PS: I enjoy all eras of the Dan, and solo Fagan as well.

    EDIT: I may as well provide an example...



    "I love you Miss Maudie James. But would you stop your naughty games..." That could be pure Fagan.
    Holy Shit!

    I thought that I was the only one who made this comparison!

    I agree wholeheartedly!
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  23. #48
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mogrooves View Post
    Arguably, the best American band of the 70s.

    Absolutely!
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  24. #49
    I'm probably a bit weird but Gaucho is one of my favourite albums of theirs.

  25. #50
    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    I'm slowly starting to collect their albums. I think maybe they are a bit of an acquired taste. I didn't used to like them much but I think I'm finally starting to warm up to them. Some of their songs have been played to death on the radio but you could say that about a lot of bands.
    Last edited by Digital_Man; 02-16-2017 at 05:03 PM.

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