Can't Buy A Thrill: How about that -- a good album with two hit singles attached. And as you might expect of New York natives who reside in the City of the Angels, both brim of ambivalence: "Do It Again," a catchy modified mambo with homogenized vocals that divert one's attention from its tragic tale of a loser so compulsive he couldn't get himself hanged, and "Reelin' In The Years," a hate song to a professed genius. Think of the Dan as the first post-boogie band: the beat swings more than it blasts or blisters, the chord changes defy our primitive subconscious expectations, and the lyrics underline their own difficulty of the reality to which they refer-- with arbitrary personal allusions, most of which are ruses. Original grade: B plus. Now: A.
Countdown To Ecstasy: With the replacement
of lead singer David Palmer (who fit in like a cheerleader at a crap game) by
composer-pianist-conversationalist Donald Fagen (who looks like he just got
dressed to go out for the paper) they achieve a deceptively agreeable studio
slickness -- perfect licks that crackle and buzz when you listen hard, Grass
Roots harmonies applied to worlds that are usually twisted. Not only does "Bodhisattva"
come on like a jazzed-up "Rock Around The Clock" -- it shines like
China and sparkles like Japan. But somehow I don't think Fagen really intends
to hold hands with an Enlightened One, not even out of base curiosity. Original
grade: A minus. Now A.
Pretzel Logic: This album sums up their chewy perversity as aptly as its title-- all I could ask is a lyric sheet. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" blends into AM radio with an intro appropriated from Horace Silver, while the other side-opener builds a joyous melody of Bird riffs underneath a lyric that invites one and all to "take a piece of Mr. Parker's band." The solos are functional rather than personal or expressive, locked into the workings of the music. And even when Donald Fagen's voice dominates as it comes out of the speakers it tends to sink into the mix in the mind's ear -- recollected in tranquility, the vocals seem like the golden mean of pop ensemble singing, stripped of histrionics and displays of technique, almost ... sincere, modest. Yeah sure. Original grade: A minus. Now: A plus.
Metal Leg contents | The Steely Dan Internet Resource
Last modified on 1/11/2003