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Walter Becker is currently producing China Crisis' new album in Hawaii. Work started in early May and they are scheduled to spend a couple months there. Look out for an autumn release.
Donald Fagen had another article featured in the May edition of Premiere. It's called "The Big Rattle" and concerns a character called Eric who composes film scores on a battery of synths and computers. A possible significant (or ominous?) development is that while the earlier ones credited him as co-founder of Steely Dan, the latest omits any mention of Steely Dan.
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter was recently interviewed in a U.S. publication called "Song Talk." It's a very interesting article and quite a bit of the piece concerns Steely Dan. He talks about how they met in New York (Donald and Walter were working on an LP, which never saw the light of day, with a girl protege of Gary Katz' named Linda Hoover), they realized he could play their challenging tunes and he liked their songs so they got together. Skunk himself suggested Jim Hodder who in turn later suggested Dave Palmer for last-minute vocalist. They agreed that if "one of us was ever lucky enough to get anything happening (laughs) call everyone else and we'll do this. At first we were gonna call it Big Nardo and the Eighth Grade."
"The deal that Steely Dan signed was not the world's greatest, but we were desperate," Baxter says. Apparently, one of the demos they were hawking around the record companies at the time was called "Dr. Udu's Proto-Man". The first song Steely Dan ever cut was "Dallas" which Baxter says was released and then withdrawn because they didn't want to be labelled country and western!
He went on to explain how he was teaching himself to play Bach's Toccata and Fugue on the guitar at the time they were recording "Countdown to Ecstasy" and suggested to Donald that they should try and incorporate one particular chord pattern into one of the songs. Later Fagen came in with a song called "The Boston Rag" and had put that actual chord change in it. "It thrilled me to death, Donald listening to my ideas."
James Grant from Love and Money was interviewed very briefly on FSd in May and talked about his experiences in New York recording with Gary Katz. He didn't have time to say too much other than to remark that they did encounter Donald in the studio and that he is it "mega-shy."
Apparently it took them three months to get past merely saying hello to him! He did a horn chart for the LP, Grant said, which was really interesting but "out to lunch" as far as Love and Money's sound was concerned and so it's not on the album. He did say, however, that Donald's "new stuff is sounding really good," so perhaps a long-overdue second solo album is in the pipeline. Since the last issue, yet another album of early demo material has been released entitled "Stone Piano." It's on the Thunderbolt label and is a succeeding volume to the earlier "Old Regime" package. There are no new tracks to be found and once again the artwork and cover defy description. Quite frankly if a friend hadn't obliged me in getting my copy before I knew its merits - or lack of them - I would have kept my money in my pocket.
Hiram Bullock explained in a recent Guitar World interview why he chose to cover "Pretzel Logic." "It was the suggestion of a friend of mine, and it fit because I'm a Steely Dan fanatic. I love everything they ever did. But the thing is you never hear Steely Dan covered, because the tunes are just too personal, it's really clearly them. It would be really hard to cover the vocal."