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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Steely Dan September 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve never owned a ‘proper’ Steely Dan album. Indeed I’ve owned precisely two Steely Dan records in my life – one a Greatest Hits on vinyl which I purchased second hand in the mid-80s, the other a more expansive Greatest Hits on MP3 which I purchased about fifteen years ago. Worse, I’ve never heard a Steely Dan album all the way through bar those two. Indeed just thinking about it I’ve probably heard a tenth of their overall output. Possibly less.

Years back I featured Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly in this slot – an album that I cherish (yeah, that’s the right word). But I’ve never listened to any of his other albums, bar a single or two which I loved and downloaded from later work.

And I can’t quite explain this phenomenon. Because those two Greatest Hits albums I played to death – and beyond. And The Nightfly has been a constant companion across the decades since I purchased that more or less when it was released.

I would tentatively hazard that it was because the songs were so great that I was uneasy about delving too deeply into the back catalogue for fear of being disappointed. I don’t know. Or perhaps there was too much else (I have a similar issue with Prefab Sprout, having two exhaustive compilations that again I’ve played constantly but avoided the studio albums).

Nor, though I was briefly tempted, did I buy tickets to see them play in Dublin later this year.

Yet the sad news of Walter Becker’s death was a shock. He was still relatively young, and they were still gigging and getting very very good reviews, so the idea he’d be snatched away now seems almost incomprehensible.

For me Reelin’ in the Years was the entry point – played incessantly on late 70s and early 80s radio (and thereafter). A song which had a rocky punch and a very Steely Dan articulacy as well as a fine strand of utter cynicism that, oddly looking back on it seems to me to have dovetailed neatly with that of new wave and punk somewhat later (or perhaps I’m stretching). What was fascinating to me listening to their other work was to realise that RIY was not really typical, but that then all their tracks were both distinctly different to one another but also shared some essence. Pretzel Logic is nothing like RIY, but it is a track of surpassing genius both melodically and in all other ways. Likewise with Rikki Don’t Lose that Number. And their ability to meld jazz and pop and pretty much whatever the hell they liked was something else.

Steely Dan are such a great group and there’s been mountains of words written about them, there’s little more I can write – suffice it to say that this is a very very small selection of tracks of theirs I like. Any of those tracks from studio albums that people think I’m missing all suggestions gratefully received in comments…

Do It Again

Pretzel Logic


My Old School

Reelin in the Years


1. sonofstan - September 16, 2017

All the original Dan records are great, and all different. Treat yourself! I’d start with Katy Lied, one of the bleakest records ever.


WorldbyStorm - September 16, 2017

I’d been afraid that would be the answer 🙂


2. Cymro Alltud - September 16, 2017

And while you’re at it…! You really NEED to listen to Steve McQueen by Prefab Sprout.

Liked by 2 people

3. Phil - September 17, 2017

If you haven’t heard Razor Boy yet, you owe it to yourself.


WorldbyStorm - September 17, 2017

Just heard it now. It’s great.


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