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

  1. #601
    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Philly burbs PA
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    It's their best album, Jed.
    The pretzel logic pretzel guy is on his way to your house to have a word with you.
    You can't take a photograph of Uzis on a street corner.

  2. #602
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    The Planet Lovetron
    Posts
    10,792
    ^ That'll be fine. Pretzel Logic isn't even their 2nd best album, imo. Countdown To Ecstasy is.
    Last edited by moecurlythanu; 07-02-2022 at 11:50 AM.

  3. #603
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    La Florida
    Posts
    6,427
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    ^ That'll be fine. PretzelLogic isn't even their 2nd best album, imo. Countdown To Ecstasy is.
    It's a big contender for best album. Not sure where I'd rank it. But just for shits, I rank Aja at the bottom. It's a good/great album but I like all the previous albums a lot more.

  4. #604
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Greater New York Area
    Posts
    14,175
    I know people here are all over the place for which is the best album - always a good sign!
    I like all the New York references, and my son went to Bard College too!
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  5. #605
    Member since 7/13/2000 Hal...'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Buckeye Nation
    Posts
    2,765
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    A few months ago or so I picked up Gaucho. It's ok but I'm not a really big fan of it.
    Gaucho is their 2nd worst album, imo. There are only three good songs on it: "Babylon Sisters" (one of their best), "Hey Nineteen", and "Time Out of Mind".

    Nonetheless, I plan on getting the rest of the ones I don't have. I'll probably skip the last two though.
    Two Against Nature is a very, very good album - if you can get past the sound of a piccolo snare, which is really difficult for me. Lyrically, I think it's their best album. "Jack of Speed" is one of their all time best songs, imo, and "Janie Runaway" is their funniest. And if Donald Fagen wasn't singing the title track, you'd be hard pressed to come up with the name of the band, given what a departure it is from their usual style. And while I've never been a fan of Walter's lead playing, it fits really well with the feel of the songs.

    As for Everything Must Go, I thought the title was very apropos when I heard the album for the first time. It sounds to me like a collection of rejects that they recorded for contractual reasons and is what I'd rank as their worst. That said, there are three really good songs on it: "Godwhacker", a great up-tempo song; "Green Book", a song with a nice groove and a double lead solo with Don on synth and Walt on guitar, plus a reference to the old film noir movie Kiss Me Deadly; and "Lunch With Gina", which is my favorite from that album, with some wry humor, Walt providing a very tasty bass line, and Don's best synth work since... ever? I'm not sure I'd say those three are worth the price of admission but they're typical solid SD tunes.

    BTW, another album I think is really good is Don's Morph the Cat. I think it's better than Gaucho, Everything Must Go, and Don's earlier two solo albums.
    Many years ago, I started a misanthropic club. I'm still the only member.

  6. #606
    Member since 7/13/2000 Hal...'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Buckeye Nation
    Posts
    2,765
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    The title track of Royal Scam is a masterclass in dynamics.
    One of my fave SD songs.

    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    Pretzel Logic isn't even their 2nd best album, imo. Countdown To Ecstasy is.
    Countdown To Ecstasy is my favorite. With the exception of "Pearl of the Quarter", every song is at least an A– and two are A+'s: "Show Biz Kids" and "Your Gold Teeth". "Razor Boy" could have been an A+ if not for that godawful pedal steel guitar solo, which really grates on my nerves (if I were God, Steve Howe would be the only person allowed to play that wretched instrument). The others are all A's in my book.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I know people here are all over the place for which is the best album - always a good sign!
    Here's how I rank them, with scores (I'd never broken them down song-by-song before and wasn't sure the order of some of them, hence the scoring)... not that anyone cares, but:

    1. Countdown to Ecstasy (10)
    2. Aja (9.5)
    3. Royal Scam (9)
    4. Pretzel Logic (8.5)
    5. Two Against Nature (8)
    6. Can't Buy A Thrill (7.5)
    7. Katy Lied (7)
    8. Gaucho (4.25)
    9. Everything Must Go (3.5)

    Edit: my scoring is not a 1-10 type scoring. Just wanted to point that out.


    As for their songs, these are what I think are the crème de la crème (in chronological order):
    Do It Again
    Only A Fool Would Say That
    Your Gold Teeth
    Show Biz Kids
    Night by Night
    Charlie Freak
    Doctor Wu
    The Royal Scam
    Black Cow
    Aja
    Babylon Sisters
    Jack of Speed

    If I had to pick one of their songs that qualifies as most underrated, based on what I've seen people say, it would be "Monkey In Your Soul". How any SD fan could not like this song is an absolute mystery to me.
    Last edited by Hal...; 07-02-2022 at 07:50 PM.
    Many years ago, I started a misanthropic club. I'm still the only member.

  7. #607
    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Philly burbs PA
    Posts
    3,423
    Quote Originally Posted by Hal... View Post
    Gaucho is their 2nd worst album, imo. There are only three good songs on it: "Babylon Sisters" (one of their best), "Hey Nineteen", and "Time Out of Mind".


    Two Against Nature is a very, very good album - if you can get past the sound of a piccolo snare, which is really difficult for me. Lyrically, I think it's their best album. "Jack of Speed" is one of their all time best songs, imo, and "Janie Runaway" is their funniest. And if Donald Fagen wasn't singing the title track, you'd be hard pressed to come up with the name of the band, given what a departure it is from their usual style. And while I've never been a fan of Walter's lead playing, it fits really well with the feel of the songs.

    As for Everything Must Go, I thought the title was very apropos when I heard the album for the first time. It sounds to me like a collection of rejects that they recorded for contractual reasons and is what I'd rank as their worst. That said, there are three really good songs on it: "Godwhacker", a great up-tempo song; "Green Book", a song with a nice groove and a double lead solo with Don on synth and Walt on guitar, plus a reference to the old film noir movie Kiss Me Deadly; and "Lunch With Gina", which is my favorite from that album, with some wry humor, Walt providing a very tasty bass line, and Don's best synth work since... ever? I'm not sure I'd say those three are worth the price of admission but they're typical solid SD tunes.

    BTW, another album I think is really good is Don's Morph the Cat. I think it's better than Gaucho, Everything Must Go, and Don's earlier two solo albums.
    Good to know. I have the Nightfly and think it's pretty good but maybe a bit on the mellow side. I have to be in the mood for it.
    You can't take a photograph of Uzis on a street corner.

  8. #608
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    small town in ND
    Posts
    5,665
    Two Against Nature is always worth the time just for the closing "West of Hollywood" with that loooooooong outro.
    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

  9. #609
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Greater New York Area
    Posts
    14,175
    Barry, thanks a lot for your recommendations (or thumbs up, anyway) on particular songs. I'll make a playlist of some of those or at least jot them down so I can pay attention to them if my attention starts to drift while listening to the lesser albums.

    BTW, what to you think of the song Haitian Divorce? I find it really funny - I get a kick out of these lines and the way Fagen sings them:

    She takes the taxi to the good hotel
    Bon marché, as far as she can tell
    She drinks the zombie from the coco shell
    Last edited by JKL2000; 07-02-2022 at 05:42 PM.
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  10. #610
    My favorite album is probably either Pretzel Logic or Katy Lied, but my fav song is easily "Black Cow". Such fantastic lyrics.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hal... View Post
    Gaucho is their 2nd worst album, imo. There are only three good songs on it: "Babylon Sisters" (one of their best), "Hey Nineteen", and "Time Out of Mind".
    I can't agree with this. "My Rival" is a really good tune, and the title track is brilliant both musically and lyrically. In fact, the only song on it I don't care much for is "Babylon Sisters".

    Even if Gaucho isn't peak Steely Dan, it's still essential IMO.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hal... View Post
    BTW, another album I think is really good is Don's Morph the Cat. I think it's better than Gaucho, Everything Must Go, and Don's earlier two solo albums.
    Morph the Cat is great! Although I still prefer The Nightfly and Kamakiriad over Morph, I'd recommend all three to anyone who likes Steely Dan.

    Sunken Condos wasn't as good IMO, but I'm still glad to have it.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  11. #611
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    My favorite album is probably either Pretzel Logic or Katy Lied, but my fav song is easily "Black Cow". Such fantastic lyrics.




    I can't agree with this. "My Rival" is a really good tune, and the title track is brilliant both musically and lyrically. In fact, the only song on it I don't care much for is "Babylon Sisters".

    Even if Gaucho isn't peak Steely Dan, it's still essential IMO.




    Morph the Cat is great! Although I still prefer The Nightfly and Kamakiriad over Morph, I'd recommend all three to anyone who likes Steely Dan.

    Sunken Condos wasn't as good IMO, but I'm still glad to have it.
    So outrageous
    And the code is a play, a play is a song, a song is a film, a film is a dance...

  12. #612
    Member since 7/13/2000 Hal...'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Buckeye Nation
    Posts
    2,765
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    BTW, what to you think of the song Haitian Divorce? I find it really funny - I get a kick out of these lines and the way Fagen sings them:

    She takes the taxi to the good hotel
    Bon marché, as far as she can tell
    She drinks the zombie from the coco shell
    Oh, yeah. Great song.

    They wrote a few humorous and/or ironic lyrics, over the years, if you pay attention to them.

    One of my favorite lines is from "Hey Nineteen" during the instrumental section when Donald says, "skate a little lower now". After all these years, it can still make me chuckle.

    Their funniest lyrics are from "Janie Runaway":

    Let's plan a weekend alone together
    Drive out to Binky's place
    The sugar shack in Pennsylvania
    Or would that be a federal case?
    We'll take Big Red - the Blazer - it's nice inside
    And guess who's coming along for the ride

    Who has a friend named Melanie?
    Who's not afraid to try new things?
    Who gets to spend her birthday in Spain?
    Possibly you - Janie Runaway

    So, basically, the lines about going to Pennsylvania being a federal case implies "Janie" is underage since they'd be crossing state lines. And up until now, the song has been solely about the singer and Janie. But in the last chorus we learn Melanie is coming along with them. Why? Because, since Janie's not afraid to try new things, the second line implies some sort of sexual adventure with Melanie included (a threesome?). And how is the singer going to talk Janie into this? By bribing her with a trip to Spain on her birthday... if she goes along with it.

    So lecherous and so funny.

    Here's another I find humorous, from "Green Book":

    I tango down to the smoky lobby
    My eyes adjust to the light
    The new cashier looks like Jill St. John
    Can that be right?

    BTW, Jed, you should also check out "What a Shame About Me", if you like references to NYC. Actually, "Janie Runaway" has a couple, too.
    Many years ago, I started a misanthropic club. I'm still the only member.

  13. #613
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Utopia
    Posts
    4,315
    Quote Originally Posted by Hal... View Post
    "Razor Boy" could have been an A+ if not for that godawful pedal steel guitar solo, which really grates on my nerves (if I were God, Steve Howe would be the only person allowed to play that wretched instrument).
    Dude, Sneaky Pete Kleinow!

    (Solo at 1:47)

    Not to mention B.J. Cole...
    Hurtleturtled Out of Heaven - an electronic music composition, on CD and vinyl
    https://michaelpdawson.bandcamp.com
    http://www.waysidemusic.com/Music-Pr...MCD-spc-7.aspx

  14. #614
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,595
    In my view, "Aja" is their masterpiece, and the rest are awfully good. I think "Gaucho" gets less love than deserved, above, especially with a little overlooked ditty called "Glamour Profession" on side two. In fact, the last 3 tracks on "Gaucho" are among the best that F & B had to offer, ever (in my view). It's hard for me to conjure up a more fanciful closing suite for an album as "Glamour Profession", "Time Out Of Mind" and "Babylon Sisters". Yikes...

  15. #615
    Quote Originally Posted by SunRunner2 View Post
    In my view, "Aja" is their masterpiece, and the rest are awfully good. I think "Gaucho" gets less love than deserved, above, especially with a little overlooked ditty called "Glamour Profession" on side two. In fact, the last 3 tracks on "Gaucho" are among the best that F & B had to offer, ever (in my view). It's hard for me to conjure up a more fanciful closing suite for an album as "Glamour Profession", "Time Out Of Mind" and "Babylon Sisters". Yikes...
    Good album. But the song order is mixed up on your copy apparently..?

  16. #616
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Greater New York Area
    Posts
    14,175
    Last night I listened to most of Walter Becker’s “11 Tracks of Whack” and, aside from the synthy-sounding drums, I enjoyed it. Did Becker write the lyrics? I was surprised that his lyrics seemed almost the equal to those on SD albums. Did Becker write lyrics for some of the SD songs? For some reason I imagined they were all Fagen’s work.

    Songwriting credits would be useful to me at this point! Where can I find those, my friends?
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  17. #617
    Member since 7/13/2000 Hal...'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Buckeye Nation
    Posts
    2,765
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Last night I listened to most of Walter Becker’s “11 Tracks of Whack” and, aside from the synthy-sounding drums, I enjoyed it. Did Becker write the lyrics? I was surprised that his lyrics seemed almost the equal to those on SD albums. Did Becker write lyrics for some of the SD songs? For some reason I imagined they were all Fagen’s work.

    Songwriting credits would be useful to me at this point! Where can I find those, my friends?
    All but one of SD's songs were co-written by Becker and Fagen.
    Many years ago, I started a misanthropic club. I'm still the only member.

  18. #618
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    343
    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    As for the Royal Scam, I have that one too but have only listened to it once so I need to play it again. I do remember liking it. I think that's the one with the infamous "gas in the car" line if I'm not mistaken.
    The line's from Kid Charlemagne which also has one of the greatest guitar solos ever - Larry Carlton is magic on it.

  19. #619
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    La Florida
    Posts
    6,427
    Heard a bit of Nightfly and Morph.

  20. #620
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Last night I listened to most of Walter Becker’s “11 Tracks of Whack” and, aside from the synthy-sounding drums, I enjoyed it. Did Becker write the lyrics? I was surprised that his lyrics seemed almost the equal to those on SD albums. Did Becker write lyrics for some of the SD songs? For some reason I imagined they were all Fagen’s work.
    As mentioned above B&F cowrote nearly all the songs. (There was the Ellington cover on Pretzel Logic, "The Fez" where they gave co-credit to keyboardist Paul Griffin, and maybe a few other exceptions I'm forgetting.) My understanding is that they generally worked together on both lyrics and music. From some of their comments I think the dark wit of the words was more from Becker and the jazzy music more from Fagen.

  21. #621
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Greater New York Area
    Posts
    14,175
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    As mentioned above B&F cowrote nearly all the songs. (There was the Ellington cover on Pretzel Logic, "The Fez" where they gave co-credit to keyboardist Paul Griffin, and maybe a few other exceptions I'm forgetting.) My understanding is that they generally worked together on both lyrics and music. From some of their comments I think the dark wit of the words was more from Becker and the jazzy music more from Fagen.
    After listening to a solo album from each, I’d say you’re correct.
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  22. #622
    Member jake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    949
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    As mentioned above B&F cowrote nearly all the songs. (There was the Ellington cover on Pretzel Logic, "The Fez" where they gave co-credit to keyboardist Paul Griffin, and maybe a few other exceptions I'm forgetting.) My understanding is that they generally worked together on both lyrics and music.
    Technically there is one other exception - the song Gaucho is listed as co-written with Keith Jarrett as a result of Jarrett suing them for plagiarism of his 1974 tune "Long As You Know You're Living Yours". Apparently B&F didn’t even contest it.

  23. #623
    If you've got some time to spare I highly recommend a browse through the Steely Dan Archive - https://sdarchive.com/ - for more of an insight into Messrs Becker and Fagen. I particularly enjoy the area devoted to humorous memos from WB - https://sdarchive.com/wbmemos.html

    P.S. IMHO - Don't ignore the two reunion albums. There is plenty to like there and my personal favourites are:
    • What A Shame About Me - a devastating and funny account of the failure to live up to one's potential.
    • Two Against Nature - a musically brilliant song using the metaphor of battling voodoo to describe SD's return. Rhythmically wonderful with a great piano hook.
    • Jack Of Speed - a tale of drug addiction, musically a successor to Kid Charlemagne.
    • Things I Miss The Most - another lyrically devastating and humorous track - this time focusing on a man's life post-relationship break-up.
    • Godwacker - I'm not religious so I don't know if this would ruffle feathers. A song about the team tasked with taking out gods that are past their due date.
    • Pixeleen - about a mindless Hollywood action flick where a teenaged spy/operative takes on the enemy while interrupted by annoying interactions with her father and boyfriend.
    "One should never magnify the harsh light of reality with the mirror of prose onto the delicate wings of fantasy's butterfly"
    Thumpermonkey - How I Wrote The French Lieutenant's Woman

    TESTING TESTING

  24. #624
    ^ I love “Pixeleen” a lot. Those two reunion albums are definitely worth hearing, and I’m really glad to have them.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  25. #625
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,595
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    Good album. But the song order is mixed up on your copy apparently..?
    You're correct. I got them mixed up when copying the source. Thank you.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •