The Record Room / The Rubber Room / Archives / 05-27-2009 / Steely Dan Education

Topie: Steely Dan Education Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
January 25th, 2009 01:20 PM
Summ-a-Briz
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:


You're so right. It is a case study. Trying to solve a mystery you don't know the predicating facts of, like Zodiac. The pieces all fit in the puzzle, but what the hell is it a picture of?


wow. love this.

I'm not a huge Dan fan, but as a result of this board I know I need to spend some time with the record. I don't think I would ever see them as being that stupendous if I just went by their radio hits. I can live without stuff like Babylon Sisters and Rikki. Love Reeling In The Years, Deacon Blue, My Old School even.
January 25th, 2009 01:25 PM
IanWagner Folks who dig the dual level of Dan should also get into Paul Simon. It is there, to a large degree as well. I mean, all that stuff in Me And Julio about "what the mama saw was against the law" and "the radical priest comes to get me released and we're all on the cover of Newsweek"?
January 25th, 2009 01:26 PM
Craig https://www.yousendit.com/download/...qTSs5bEFLSkE9PQ

"Do It Again", live in London on that amazing 1974 tour...May 20, 1974 exactly.

Featuring an amazing band...
Donald Fagen - keyboards, synth, vocals
Walter Becker - bass
Michael McDonald - electric piano, vocals
Jeff Porcaro - drums
Jim Hodder - drums
Denny Diaz - guitar
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter - guitar, pedal steel
Royce Jones - percussion/vocals
Stuart “Dinky” Dawson - engineer/mix

And a great job of engineering from the legendary Dinky Dawson. I'm trying to get more of these tapes...they're cassette mixes right from Dinky's board of that tour, and one of them showed up on the official box set after being released as B-side. I heard Dawson say they were his own cassette tapes which were the source of that B-side, but who knows who leaked them.

Everything I've heard from that tour has floored me, as far as a band of kick-ass musicians playing the hell out of the songs. Not a bit of laziness, not a bit of who-gives-a-shit attitude, not a bit of rock star-itis infecting the music.

This stuff is great.

2:32 "Go Get 'Em, Denny!" and the amazing Diaz launches into some tasty modal jazz soloing on guitar, rather than sitar.

Porcaro is simply amazing throughout all of these I've heard. He drives the beat and you can totally hear his energy coming through.

Palmer was good, really good at times for the situations, but listen to Fagen deliver the lines live on this and he's more convincing as the narrator. IMO.

January 25th, 2009 01:26 PM
jdavolt JD, check out Royal Scam. No hits to skip, very bleak record, but maybe the apex of their vision, where the picture comes closest to clarity, for me.
January 25th, 2009 01:28 PM
IanWagner Killer, Kraig. I love that they changed Do It from laid-back NY kool to frantic, almost James Brown syncopation.
January 25th, 2009 01:32 PM
Summ-a-Briz I do like Royal Scam. Great production. Should go back and give it a spin again. Probably need all their LPs.
January 25th, 2009 01:53 PM
Craig
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:
Killer, Kraig. I love that they changed Do It from laid-back NY kool to frantic, almost James Brown syncopation.


Good call: It's killer stuff, everything I've heard from that tour. They take the songs into another realm, often playing the hell out of them and boosting the tempos and adding a funk feel to songs which were still cool, but straighter in the studio.

I think that shift in feel is due a lot to Jeff Porcaro, and the kind of kick-drum and hi-hat syncopations that caused a stir in the LA studio world in the 70's. He was *that* good of a drummer just out of his teens that the older players had to learn what he was doing to keep up with the work! His father Joe said he had legendary drummers asking him what his son was playing to make those feels come alive.

And a great moment buried somewhere on that UK tape - I have to listen again - comes from either Becker or Fagen (I think it was Walt) who says a very heartfelt thanks and praises the UK audience for really listening to the music and getting into it. It's really something to hear a thanks like that, and it obviously meant a lot to the musicians on that stage.
January 25th, 2009 02:35 PM
Craig "Dirty Work" from the same 5/74 show...

https://www.yousendit.com/download/...nUzhFd2ZIRGc9PQ

I post this one not for a blow-out performance or anything, but instead to ask why Fagen did not want to sing this song! This is backup singer and percussionist Royce Jones taking the lead from the original David Palmer vocal, with a *very* prominent Michael McDonald hitting the high harmony and what sounds like Fagen sheepishly in there on harmony as well.

So what was it about this tune anyway that Fagen didn't take the lead?

And one section to note: Minus the brass section, Skunk Baxter substitutes for the horns on on pedal steel, and plays a wicked off-the-wall steel solo (typical bizarre Baxter-isms...) right at the 2:52 mark.

Skunk barely gets credit as a fine steel player, yet compare this solo with similar bizarro work from "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow, who gets a lot of notice.

And Jeff Porcaro, in this same solo break, adds in a lot of those same syncopated/funk rhythms that were all over tracks he later did on Katy Lied and all of his other session work, but here he adds them to what was a basic Ringo Starr kind of groove originally. Great to hear Porcaro's grooves as a contrast to Hodder's straighter feel, since they're both playing together!

I love this stuff.

January 25th, 2009 03:01 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:


You're so right. It is a case study. Trying to solve a mystery you don't know the predicating facts of, like Zodiac. The pieces all fit in the puzzle, but what the hell is it a picture of?


Yes. Like the Zodiac crimes, there is a very mannered ugliness in their music, which is something they turn into humor, just as he though those misspelled greeting cards were funny.

One of their most sadistic "love" songs:

Quote:
Drive west on Sunset
To the sea
Turn that jungle music down
Just until we're out of town
This is no one night stand
It's a real occasion
Close your eyes and you'll be there
It's everything they say
The end of a perfect day
Distant lights from across the bay

Babylon sisters shake it
Babylon sisters shake it
So fine so young
Tell me I'm the only one

Here come those Santa Ana winds again

We'll jog with show folk on the sand
Drink kirschwasser from a shell
San Francisco show and tell
Well I should know by now
That it's just a spasm
Like a Sunday in T.J.
That it's cheap but it's not free
That I'm not what I used to be
And that love's not a game for three

Babylon sisters shake it
Babylon sisters shake it
So fine so young
Tell me I'm the only one

My friends say no don't go
For that cotton candy
Son you're playing with fire
The kid will live and learn
As he watches his bridges burn
From the point of no return

Babylon sisters shake it
Babylon sisters shake it
So fine so young
Tell me I'm the only one


Also, the self-absorbed puns and (pseudo?) "date rape" of "Hey Nineteen":

Quote:
Way back when
In Sixty-seven
I was the dandy
Of Gamma Chi
Sweet things from Boston
So young and willing
Moved down to Scarsdale
Where the hell am I

Hey Nineteen
No we can't dance together
No we can't talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

Hey Nineteen
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember
The Queen of Soul
It's hard times befallen
The sole survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old

Hey Nineteen
No we got nothing in common
No we can't talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

The Cuervo Gold
The fine Colombian
Make tonight a wonderful thing

No we can't dance together
No we can't talk at all


Very funny, very upsetting. Hard to imagine they made a career out of this stuff and it was/is very popular. In their own right they are probably one of the few pop phenomenons worthy of serious academic analysis. This song has so many layers for such a benign-sounding hit. On one hand it's a tired reflection from a boring character who needs more female property. On another this guy sees himself as sort of the last man on earth, trying to preserve the artifacts of his time, which he can hardly appreciate. He likes soul music? And on another there is something disconcerting about his method of seducing this girl, not even taking into consideration her age. Their is a career of "Walk on the Wild Side"s, but from a very jaded view point.
January 25th, 2009 03:02 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
Craig wrote:
"Dirty Work" from the same 5/74 show...

https://www.yousendit.com/download/...nUzhFd2ZIRGc9PQ

I post this one not for a blow-out performance or anything, but instead to ask why Fagen did not want to sing this song! This is backup singer and percussionist Royce Jones taking the lead from the original David Palmer vocal, with a *very* prominent Michael McDonald hitting the high harmony and what sounds like Fagen sheepishly in there on harmony as well.

So what was it about this tune anyway that Fagen didn't take the lead?


It may be their only song that's supposed to sound sweet, which adds another layer to the story. On their other songs Fagen is perfect because his voice is kind of detached, which suits the clinical music and observational lyrics.
January 25th, 2009 03:03 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
Summ-a-Briz wrote:


wow. love this.

I'm not a huge Dan fan, but as a result of this board I know I need to spend some time with the record. I don't think I would ever see them as being that stupendous if I just went by their radio hits. I can live without stuff like Babylon Sisters and Rikki. Love Reeling In The Years, Deacon Blue, My Old School even.


Oh man, really? No Babylon Sisters or Rikki Don't Lose that Number? What don't you like about those?
January 25th, 2009 04:12 PM
Beckner
Quote:
It's hard times befallen
The sole survivors


I thought it was "soul survivors" in reference to Aretha, who the generation had forgotten!
January 25th, 2009 04:22 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
Beckner wrote:


I thought it was "soul survivors" in reference to Aretha, who the generation had forgotten!


Oh, it's definitely both, even though it's written as "sole."
January 25th, 2009 04:23 PM
IanWagner
Quote:
Chris D. wrote:


It may be their only song that's supposed to sound sweet, which adds another layer to the story. On their other songs Fagen is perfect because his voice is kind of detached, which suits the clinical music and observational lyrics.


Yep, like Candy Says on the third VU.
January 25th, 2009 04:36 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:


Yep, like Candy Says on the third VU.


Despite the heavy Jazz allusions, VU are always the group I compare Steely Dan too. Of course, VU were jazz fans too, but still, their music doesn't strike you as similar right away. Great comparison, because it makes total sense. The song "Gaucho" may be their "After Hours."

I have mixed feelings about Gaucho. I feel like, though it's imperfect, it was a doorway into a totally new way of music for them, but they weren't sure how to make it (sort of Eno ambient with their lyrics, which may have been too hard to mask with such subtle music. and music that suble was probably too far removed for them from the r&b and jazz they love). So Royal Scam andAja end up being their zenith, taking pop as commentary on pop as far as it can go.
January 25th, 2009 04:49 PM
Chris D. Here are some interesting Fagen quotes about influences:

Steely Dan Influences

This in particular makes a lot of sense: "The fact that I didn't understand it made it very powerful for me."
January 25th, 2009 05:35 PM
Chris D. Don't know if you like Ween, Dave, but I had to post their Steely Dan tribute:

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January 25th, 2009 06:32 PM
MoogDroog Steely Dan - Gaucho (MFSL Ultradisc UBCD 545 - 1991) [1980/FLAC/Lossless/Log]
Steely Dan - Aja (MFSL Ultradisc UBCD 515 - 1988) [1977/FLAC/Lossless/Log]
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam (JVC Japanese pressing) [1976/FLAC/Lossless]
Steely Dan - Live At The Record Plant (Pre FM Master Reel) 03-20-74 [1974/FLAC/Lossless]
Steely Dan - You Go Where I Go [1971/MP3/192]
Steely Dan - Katy Lied (Steve Hoffman master) [1975/FLAC/Lossless[LOG]]
Steely Dan - Aja (Steve Hoffman edit) [1977/FLAC/Lossless[LOG]]
Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic (Japanese import) [1974/FLAC/Lossless[LOG]]
Steely Dan (Donald Fagen & Walter Becker) - Android Warehouse - The Original Recordings of... [1999/MP3/256(VBR)]
Steely Dan - Live in Irvine Meadows '94 [1994/FLAC/Lossless/Log]
Steely Dan - Gaucho (demos & outtakes) [1980/FLAC/Lossless] (Two discs, 19 tracks)




Just going through the torrent site i use for any intersting bits and pieces and came across the above. I can paste some more info about them or just grab them and upload them here if there's any interest?


I've also got a 1974 live show called Memphis Blues Again

EDIT - which is as follows:

Quote:

Steely Dan: Memphis Blues Again April 30, 1974 (Soundboard)
Steely Dan: Memphis Blues Again
Venue: Ellis Auditorium
City: Memphis
State: Tennessee
Date: April 30, 1974

01 - Bodisatva
02 - Boston Rag
03 - Do It Again
04 - Brooklyn
05 - King Of The World
06 - Funky Scare Tactic Orch Blues
07 - Rikki Don't Lose That Number
08 - Pretzel Logic
09 - Introductions
10 - My Old School
11 - Dirty Work
12 - Reelin' In The Years
13 - Show Biz Kids
14 - This All Too Mobile Home


and is fantastic.

Been getting back into them loads the last few days after reading this thread. Can't get over Haitian Divorce - the chorus is so heavy. It still floors me every time it comes in. It reminds me of Deacon Blues in that the verse is kind of difficult, melodically - quite an uneasy feel.. then the choruses on both are completely overwhelming. Can't see me listening to much else for a while
January 25th, 2009 06:39 PM
IanWagner Yo, Moog, while yr on there, they got the Purple Chick Nilsson Aerial Ballet mono? Thanks, man!
January 25th, 2009 06:44 PM
MoogDroog Nah, sorry - the only Purple Chick stuff up there at the moment is Beatles stuff and a "Smile recreation" that follows BWPS. Anything else you're after?
January 25th, 2009 06:45 PM
Chris D. Great list there, Moog.

Listening to Two Against Nature. As much as I do like the Nightfly (nice music for driving home late at night after saying goodbye to someone you really like), this is the real follow up to Gaucho. It's like Gaucho and Aja slowed down, spread out. And, while characters abound here, I almost get the feeling that this was the first album they did that was kind of reflective. It's more about a sense of loss than cynicism, which is no slight on the earlier stuff (I prefer it, probably), but I'm fascinated by their ability to inject some personal feelings into music designed to hit you like a dildo. Some of this is pretty sublime (the "Almost Gothic"). Of course, I feel like a 55 year-old in khakis and a Cape Cod sweatshirt listening to it.
January 25th, 2009 06:47 PM
IanWagner Hmmm, can't think of anything, but cheers! Whenever the Lily Allen drops, lettuce know!
January 25th, 2009 06:48 PM
IanWagner
Quote:
Chris D. wrote: Of course, I feel like a 55 year-old in khakis and a Cape Cod sweatshirt listening to it.


January 25th, 2009 06:50 PM
jdavolt Bwahaha...yknow, other than BWPS, that's the only BB solo CD I have...
January 25th, 2009 06:50 PM
Chris D.
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:





TH4T IZ TH4 J4CK 0F SP33D
JR 3W1NG IN PUTT1N SH03Z N TW33D
WH1L3 J3FF M4S0N'Z S4V1NG L4T1N
N W4TCH1N GR33D
January 26th, 2009 12:40 AM
Craig
Quote:
Chris D. wrote:


Oh, it's definitely both, even though it's written as "sole."


Add another layer I always heard in that line - "The Soul Survivors" were a soul/R&B group that could boast the first Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff hit song and production, "Expressway To Your Heart" in 1967, a record still keeping the grit and groove that made late 60's soul of the variety Fagen was into so cool.

Remember too Fagen later did the New York Rock And Soul Revue project where he along with Michael McDonald, Phoebe Snow, even Becker himself and other famous names would knock the kind of songs he's singing about in Hey Nineteen out of the park on stage, and have a blast doing it.

Then, remember the state of music in the time when he wrote Hey Nineteen - Gamble and Huff as a production team had their early 70's Philly Soul groove sterilized and made into a formula which became the FM automated-programmed version of Disco, using the same elements as a cookie-cutter template.

So soul, in the form of the kind of music Gamble and Huff were making and cutting for people like "The Soul Survivors" had turned into something sterile and formula bordering on robotic, save for a few truly great records.

Take Gamble and Huff riding that wave either as primary architects or as those whose innovations got caught in the whirlwind of the formula which was selling at the time, and hard times had indeed come for the Soul Survivors in the form of innovators like Gamble and Huff. Not hard financially, but otherwise, perhaps artistically. The current records "Hey Nineteen"'s character would be seeing with a Gamble and Huff credit were miles away from 1967.

So that's my own personalized take on the soul (or sole) survivors line. Just like Van Dyke Parks on Smile, the multi-layered meaning trip can mean something different depending on who hears it.
January 26th, 2009 12:46 AM
Craig Get the Record Plant title, pronto. That is good. The Memphis concert '74 is one of the prizes of my live collection - spectacular. The early recordings are interesting but not as vital.

In my opinion, and remasters or re-edits or whatever of Steely Dan is sort of redundant. The sound of albums like Katy, Aja, and Gaucho is so superior in its original state and even on the reissues that remastering them would be like re-framing the Mona Lisa or something.

I've personally tested mixes, monitors, and speaker setups with Aja, especially Black Cow, and that came from the tip from a real pro engineer who said he used "Gaucho" tracks like "Babylon Sisters" for the same purpose.
January 26th, 2009 07:38 AM
Chris D.
Quote:
So that's my own personalized take on the soul (or sole) survivors line. Just like Van Dyke Parks on Smile, the multi-layered meaning trip can mean something different depending on who hears it.


It was an Annandale Gothic trip.

Great post.
January 26th, 2009 04:37 PM
andy rooney this has really been one of my favorite threads in a long time. told craig offline, it must be something with the stars, because i too only recently started spelunking past the familiar fm sounds to find the craggy stalacmites that is the steely dan. i put the four disc box on random and was stunned, all day, over and over. these are not your usual songs to come pop up on the radio.
January 26th, 2009 04:41 PM
andy rooney and by golly, let's get some live d/l's here for us to devour and salivate on!

all i have this this "fixed up" version of metal leg:

http://qualityboots.blogspot.com/2008/08/steely-dan-metal-leg-1974-tooleman.html
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