The only early singles Steely Dan actually liked

Steely Dan

It usually feels like old baby photos to any artist to look at their early records. While it may be nostalgic to see the beginning of it all, there’s a good chance you’ll witness a poorly done performance. You might even see something that makes you gag the moment it starts. Donald Fagen acknowledged that the first half of Steely Dan’s career wasn’t worth remembering. Despite this, he had a reputation for being one of the coolest people on the planet when working in the studio.

Nearly every album released by “The Dan” can be regarded as the best albums ever by any other band if you look at any of their works. Their return albums left a lot to be desired by rock fans. After all, they never set out to win over rock stars. These were studio musicians who weren’t trying to compete with the likes of Led Zeppelin. Instead, they were influenced by everything from jazz to blues and everything in between.

Compared to later studio whizzes, Can’t Buy a Thrill is different. While there are some standout tracks like “Reelin‘ in the Years” and “Do It Again,” most of the album sounds different. It seems like the band was attempting to play their bizarre jazz-rock experiments on the radio. Fagen could still lay down a groove when he wanted to.

And while I appreciate David Palmer’s vocals on songs like “Dirty Work,” they are completely out of sync with the band’s sound. Steely Dan’s blue-eyed soul croon is like hearing someone like Brian Wilson try to be Lou Reed half the time. He always intended his lyrics to conjure up images of the sexiest characters you’ve ever heard.

Although Countdown to Ecstasy made an effort to address the issue, the production ultimately suffered some on the way out. While there are undoubtedly some excellent tracks on the album, such as “My Old School” and “Bodhisattva,” there are also many other songs. These tracks leave you wondering what the writers were really aiming for.

Fagen told Musician that they weren’t over their growing pains until they released the album Pretzel Logic. “I don’t listen to our old records, but if I happen to hear one on the radio, my general feeling is humiliation,” Fagen said. Some of our earlier material is really confusing to me. I believe that I first became fond of a few tracks here and there as songs I could actually listen to thanks to Pretzel Logic.

When asked about a few songs that stood out, Walter Becker was more tactful, stating, “‘Do It Again’ is a good fucking record.” “Reelin’ In The Years” is a worthwhile album. It’s simply rock and roll. They intend it for children. It’s neither Tristin Fabriani nor Gustav Mahler.

There are undoubtedly some brilliant tracks on those early albums. However, Fagen and Becker weren’t as tactful with the remainder of their back catalogue. Miles Davis’s “Bodhisattva” is a rock and roll jam, and “Dirty Work” is still a respectable soul song overall.

However, the two never entered the studio with the intention of impressing the rock and rollers. They had an ear for great records. By the time Steely Dan began recording albums like Aja, they had carved out a niche for themselves. Their music featured some of the greatest grooves ever heard.

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