Saturday, April 25, 2009



Damn you Fagen and Becker! There are very few perfect creations kicking around the planet, though "Pretzel Logic" holds down a spot in the top ten. Bending genres to make them do their bidding, they stretch the brain of the listener as straight blues morphs into jazz-rock with perfect harmonies and a decorative, muted horn arrangement. Precisely why I return to these songs so often. Welcome to the studio craft of Steely Dan.

How about the rest of this LP?


Why do they show the credits at the end of a movie? Because they are lengthy and have no plot. Seeing that this is a low budget review of an excellent album, here is a "for whom without this would be just two guys with mind blowing songs" list:

Michael Omartian - keyboards
David Paich - keyboards
Timothy B. Schmit - bass, vocals
Wilton Felder - bass
Chuck Rainey - bass
Denny Dias - guitar
Jeff Baxter - guitar
Ben Benay - guitar
Dean Parks - guitar
Plas Johnson - saxophone
Jerome Richardson - saxophone
Ernie Watts - saxophone
Lew McCreary - horn
Ollie Mitchell - trumpet
Jim Hodder - drums
Jim Gordon - drums
Jeff Porcaro - drums

Subsequent releases would see the session player checklist mushroom to epic proportions. What I would give just to have been emptying ashtrays in the studio at that time.

Everything about this disc is pleasing to the ear, with not one clunker in the pack. You can almost picture everyone scrubbing up and putting the gloves on to do the mixes. Melodies flow effortlessly ("Rikki Don't Lose That Number", "Any Major Dude") with sharp lyrics around every corner ("Night by Night")

"It's a beggars life said the Queen of Spain but don't tell it to a poor man..."

Scintillating grooves are part of the package, "Parker's Band" boasting one of the finest in the set. Their lone choice of cover song is so inspired that it could be bottled and would fly off the shelves. Taking Duke Ellington's "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" and planting a pedal steel solo in it is just one of the many fun games played here. Curiously, "Barrytown" adopts the exact vocal melody of "Tell Me What You See" , a knock off track from "Help!". Inside jokes appear all over the place, with the lyrics making veiled reference to cult members standing on the corner with flowers in their hands. If you know about the "Moonies", then you are in and it all makes perfect, twisted sense.

Deserving of every superlative, this classic would initiate a cycle of crafting studio masterpieces with hired guns and staying away from live performance for nearly twenty years.

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