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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moody and brilliant bunch of whack!
11 Tracks Of Whack
This is a most interesting CD if you're a Steely Dan fan. Just what was Walter Becker's contribution to the sound and writing of Steely Dan's music ? Well, I think this superb CD answers a lot of that question.
First off, Becker is the funkier of the two writers (the other being of course - Donald Fagen) and secondly the laid back feel...
Published on January 10, 1999 by jtabacco@usa.net

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Got Better
I didn't start out liking this CD very much. But over the past year, in between listening to the entire Steely Dan catalog on a regular basis, I kept returning to "11 Tracks" and finding myself slowly getting the point. The emphasis on failed relationships, addiction and seedy subcultures are the bread and butter of Steely Dan's subject matter, and apparently, Becker's...
Published on April 10, 2008 by A reader


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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moody and brilliant bunch of whack!, January 10, 1999
By 
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
11 Tracks Of Whack
This is a most interesting CD if you're a Steely Dan fan. Just what was Walter Becker's contribution to the sound and writing of Steely Dan's music ? Well, I think this superb CD answers a lot of that question.
First off, Becker is the funkier of the two writers (the other being of course - Donald Fagen) and secondly the laid back feel behind Becker's singing and tasty guitar playing is nothing short of genius. You can't buy it. You either have or you don't. He seems to have provided the bottom glue and feel to all those great Steely Dan tunes not mention the odd musical breaks here and there that clearly match his absurd sense of humor. One can check this out by comparing this CD with Fagen's excellent Nitefly CD and Kamakiriad collection.
Though most of these tunes are not as harmoically dense or as melodic as Fagen's outings or for that matter Steely Dan (most probably because Becker's singing range is limited and he is composing with a guitar which in most cases lends to a much more rhythmic approach to song writing) it doesn't matter. The cutting edge phrasing hugging the biting personal lyrics (something Fagen seems more apt to shy away from) make up for it. Not to say there isn't a good melody here. The hook to "Hat is Too Flat" and "Girlfriend" are excellent as well as "Junkie Girl" and the guitar/vocal riff in "Lucky Henry". The production is a little loser and more atmospherieric than your average Steely Dan masterpiece (check out the monks chanting in "Surf or Die") and some very odd keyboard and guitar solos abound. The engineering is pristine as usual but a bit too sterile for my taste and I would have preferred a real drum kit on the opening cut "Down At The Bottom" (The snare drum will rip your head right off - probably what WB intended knowing his twisted mind.)
To my ears this collection of tunes is kind of a song cycle depicting the craziness that Becker has been going through since the 80s. It's very personal. He writes about his son, the death of a close friend, his ex-wife and of course his own short comings (This Moody Bastard). He seems to have grown a lot and shed some skin with this CD and working again with Fagen who produced it, is an extra bonus.
Listening to this collection makes it so clear how perfect a team Becker and Fagen really are. Rich harmonic structure - intellectual sarcasm and perfection (Fagen) blended with lose street smart funk and wacky cynicism (Becker). Amazing. We're lucky they found each other or so much great music may not have been written by these two geniuses.
11 Tracks of Whack is a wonderful piece of honest work that really grows on you. Buy it and live it. And ya get 12 songs not 11. Which song is not the whack? Not sure. My guess it's the last one about his son but with WB ya never know.
- John Tabacco
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Half of the Steely Dan Story, April 28, 2004
By 
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
According to a 1979 Hofstra University Chronicle, Steely Dan wasn't exactly a band, but rather like the Star Trek character "Captain Pike, a mutilated individual who possessed an intelligent brain but was without a body." The duo that comprised Steely Dan, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen had become one person musically, in a manner of speaking, so naturally when the outfit broke up in 1980 it seemed one could not survive without the other (maybe they were right--Steely Dan would reunite in the early 90s and participate in each other's solo projects, remaining active to this day). But since Donald Fagen was the first to come out with a solo album (1982's "The Nightfly"), not to mention soundtrack and literary work, it was assumed that it was he who had been the more creative half. Walter Becker meanwhile pursued a quiet producing career. But after the Steely Dan reunion tours, Becker surprised any skeptics with a 1994 solo album "11 Tracks Of Whack."
Nothing beats Steely Dan, but as far as solo albums go, Becker establishes himself musically and completely blows away any claim that he was a lesser element to Steely Dan. One instantly recognizes the cynical black humor that made Steely Dan's music so unique. Normally, if a solo album sounds just like the band the soloist is a member of, it would be a flaw, but here it serves to prove one thing: Walter Becker and Donald Fagen share a very unique, striking musical bond that one seldom sees these days. Becker's lazy-cool vocals describe a world of losers, mind-boggling characters and relationships ('Lucky Henry,' 'Girlfriend') self-mocking situations ('Book of Liars') and slums-with-a-smile ('Down in the Bottom,' 'Junkie Girl') the very same things that came from Fagen's voice in Steely Dan. This proves that credit for Steely Dan's magic should be given equally to Fagen and Becker-after all, they're one of the few bands that doesn't have a history riddled with disputes over songwriting credits.
But even so, each man brought his own element to the music; whereas Donald Fagen's solo outings were more elegant and evocative, "11 Tracks of Whack" meanwhile is more hard-nosed and rough around the edges. Fagen's solo albums may remind the listener of something like 'Deacon Blues' or 'Gaucho,' where "Whack" reminds one of songs like 'Bodhisattva' and a lot of "Countdown To Ecstasy." Becker's lounge-lizard voice fits so well with his lyrics and music, it makes one wonder why he didn't sing more with Steely Dan. Perhaps it's because his vocals have gotten more seductive with aging. His voice would have slithered well on 'Chain Lightning' or 'Razor Boy.' The instrumentation meanwhile is tight yet stripped down, but never sloppy. "11 Tracks of Whack" definitely lives up to its name, and the twelfth track 'Little Kawai' is just as interesting, even if it was decided that the word "whack" didn't describe it best. It's hard to discuss Donald Fagen or Walter Becker without referring to Steely Dan numerous times; but their solo works put an eyeglass on the elements that each man brought to that dark, cynical team.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest, moody piece of work that grows on you., January 23, 1999
By 
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
This is a most interesting CD if you're a Steely Dan fan. Just what was Walter Becker's contribution to the sound and writing of Steely Dan's music ? Well, I think this superb CD answers a lot of that question.
First off, Becker is the funkier of the two writers (the other being of course - Donald Fagen) and secondly the laid back feel behind Becker's singing and tasty guitar playing is nothing short of genius. You can't buy it. You either have or you don't. He seems to have provided the bottom glue and feel to all those great Steely Dan tunes not mention the odd musical breaks here and there that clearly match his absurd sense of humor. One can check this out by comparing this CD with Fagen's excellent Nitefly CD and Kamakiriad collection.
Though most of these tunes are not as harmoically rich or as melodic as Fagen's outings or for that matter Steely Dan (most probably because Becker's singing range is limited and he is composing with a guitar which in most cases lends to a much more rhythmic approach to song writing) it doesn't matter. The cutting edge phrasing hugging the biting personal lyrics (something Fagen seems more apt to shy away from) make up for it. Not to say there isn't a good melody here. The hook to "Hat is Too Flat" and "Girlfriend" are excellent as well as "Junkie Girl" and the guitar/vocal riff in 'Lucky Henry.' The production is a little loser and more atmospherieric than your average Steely Dan masterpiece (check out the monks chanting in 'Surf or Die') and some very odd keyboard and guitar solos abound. The engineering is pristine as usual but a bit too sterile for my taste and I would have preferred a real drum kit on the opening cut "Down At The Bottom" (The snare drum will rip your head right off - probably what WB intended knowing his twisted mind.)
To my ears this collection of tunes is kind of a song cycle depicting the craziness that Becker has been going through since the 80s. It's very personal. He writes about his son, the death of a close friend, his ex-wife and of course his own short comings (This Moody Bastard). He seems to have grown a lot and shed some skin with this CD and working again with Fagen who produced it, is an extra bonus.
Listening to this collection makes it so clear how perfect a team Becker and Fagen really are. Rich harmonic structure - intellectual sarcasm and perfection (Fagen) blended with lose street smart funk and wacky cynicism (Becker). Amazing. We're lucky they found each other or so much great music may not have been written by these two geniuses.
11 Tracks of Whack is a wonderful piece of honest work that really grows on you. Buy it and live it. And ya get 12 songs not 11. Which song is not the whack? Not sure. My guess it's the last one about his son but with WB ya never know.
- John Tabacco
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool,Reserved, and very tasteful !!, November 28, 2002
By 
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
You know how Billy Gibbon's voice fits perfectly with ZZ Top's music?? You wouldn't want a CD of Billy singing Christmas carols...right??? Same with Walter. At first listen his voice seems a little weak, but then you realize that no other voice would do this CD justice.
I love this CD. There is a refreshing humor present, very unusual and tasty chord progressions, and very revealing and honest lyrics about the man's moods and experiences. Get this CD and listen to "Hat Too Flat" for a coupla days and it will become an alltime fave. If you've ever spent night after night sifting thru rerun after rerun on TV... just trying to sort things out...then you need to listen to "Girlfriend." And if you've ever been forced to take an honest look at your selfish tendencies concerning an intimate relationship with a special woman, then you can connect with "This Moody Bastard."
This is a very unique CD in all aspects....and it is absolutely brilliant...........and fun!!!!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mystery Resolved.., May 18, 2003
By 
Arthur C. Hurwitz (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
It was often said that Donald Fagen's solo albums sounded like Steely Dan records. So what was Walter Becker's contribution? Well, listening to this recording resolves the conundrum. Fagen was the musical frame but Becker's dark, perverse, and ironic sensibility made the lyrics and the counterpoint emotional feeling on the Steely Dan song lyrics and the always beautiful and continuous-feeling music in the background.
11 Tracks of Whack explores that perverse side from the distinct and now completely alone musical voice of Becker. The guitar playing is very limber and smooth. The songs all have melodies that are simultaneously unexpected and accessible. There is no tune here that can not be immediately picked up-like the music of Steely Dan.
This CD is a trip into the mind and experiences of Walter Becker; Thoughts and experiences with Junkie Girls, Girlfriends, men with flat hats, the sincere love of his child... In each instance the emotion is real but not at all sentimental. The music accompanies these feelings and Becker's distinct voice, musical and otherwise, breaks out..
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hidden Gem!, March 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
It takes a few listens but 11 TOW is an incredible creation. It's full of riveting grooves and great guitar work from Becker and Dean Parks. The tunes are complex and powerful, the lyrics match Walter's gritty, world-weary-but-"I'm-still-here" vocals. I love this album. If Donald Fagen had sung Walter's tunes, the world would have called this Steely Dan's great comeback album. I feel lucky to have 11 TOW and the new SD cd.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walter's Whack is way whack!, May 17, 2004
By 
"wbenson13" (Cleveland, TN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
What an album! I have always felt that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were the baddest White men in the music business. Is it any wonder than albums like Aja and Gaucho were among the top albums on the Black charts when they were released? This is especially noteworthy when there were not many White artists with longstanding albums on the Black music charts back then.
I discovered 11 Tracks of Whack by accident. I was reading through an issue of Stereo Review when the magazine listed their choices for the top 10 albums of the year. I was already a devout Aja fan, and loved Fagen's The Nighfly, but had no idea that Walter Becker did anything solo. Fagen is so wonderfully smooth, I was curious what Becker would do with a solo project.
I went out right away and purchased 11 Tracks of Whack. "Down at the Bottom" had me within ten seconds, and the rest of the CD was a great ride. "Hard Up Case", along with "Junkie Girl" have to be my two favorite tracks. Becker's clever wit and his deadpan delivery scored a grand slam with me. And I love his groove!
I have been crazy about these guys forever, from their early music, their 80's releases, their solo projects and their live material and latest studio work. I cried when I played the "Two Against Nature" CD for the first time. Walter....you da man!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grows on you, June 29, 2006
By 
Steven Atkinson (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
Lets just say it up front - there's a reason Donald Fagen did the majority of the lead vocals on Steely Dan records! Walter is a very limited vocalist and it wears on you for an entire album. Despite that, this is still a very addictive album for me. I can listen to it over and over because each songs seems to have little bits to discover and enjoy. It did, however, take a few spins to start weaving it's spell.

Many of the tracks could come straight off a Dan record. In fact, "Cringemaker" sounds like a demo for Cousin Dupree with different lyrics. Only "Surf and/or Die", "Lucky Henry" (except for the bridge), and "Hard up Case" sound un-Dan like, but each of these tracks have little touches which give them a Steely Dan feel. "Hard up Case" for instance contains a short guitar solo which sounds like it'd fit right in on Katy Lied.

It's these little coloration on every song that are missing from Donald Fagen's solo records. Donald's records are much more harmonically dense, while this album is much more simple musically but it is richly produced using sounds to fill in the songs. It's the combination of these two approaches which makes Steely Dan records so rich and rewarding.

The standout tracks are: Down in the Bottom, Junkie Girl, Book of Liars, Hard up Case, Girlfriend, and This Moody Bastard.

That said, there are a few things that keep this from being a 5-star record - the demo like sound on many tracks coming from using cheesy synth a little too much, excessive drum tracks, and, of course, Beckers vocals. Using a guest vocalist on a couple of tracks would have helped alot.

These small things can't keep it off my rotation, however. 11 Tracks of Whack is a very worhty addition to the Dan cannon which leaves you wishing for more Becker Solo albums.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the sound and quality you expect, July 15, 2006
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
This is very good music.The crisp,clean,meticulous production and the top notch musicianship that we have
come to expect from the Steely Dan boys is all here in spades.Walter does all of the singing on this album--
and his quasi-Dylan vocal style fits right in.
On the occasions when Mr Becker lets loose with his rock
solid,tuneful guitar solo breaks it is pure joy.
As stated,this disc contains 11 songs--none more than 6
minutes long.The tunes are a hopping mix of bop-blues
and synth driven laments.The lyrics have uncanny depth and
perception.
I will provide a short sample:
DUSTED DOWN IN SHANTY TOWN BEHIND A SKY OF RED
HOIST UPON SOME FROZEN DAWN EXPLODING IN MY HEAD
FAST ASLEEP IN TROUBLE OR WIDE AWAKE AND BURNING
STUCK INSIDE SOME SOME STRANGER'S HIDE WHOSE
KARMA KEEPS RETURNING
song #5/Lucky Henry
if you admire this type of deep,poetic songwriting along with
the aforementioned crisp S.DAN sound--then this disc
will be a welcome addition to your collection.It was to mine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious thing about this curio..., February 14, 2000
This review is from: 11 Tracks of Whack (Audio CD)
...Walter Becker manages to come up with real warmth, despite the rigidity of the drum machine that plays on most tracks. This record has all the cleverness you would expect, but at heart, it's got a lot of heart. The "cynical" songs like "Cringemaker," "Book of Liars" and "My Waterloo" are actually just deeply disappointed. The first two cuts "Junkie Girl" and "Down at the Bottom" are incredibly heartfelt, a survivor's look back at the excesses of the past. If you're not convinced, then listen to the final cut, "Little Kawai" which is about taking your stepson out for pancakes. Even the Beats get suburban one day. The challenge is to continue to make great art of out the aging & settling process, and I submit Becker's done that. Bodes well for "2 Vs. Nature."
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11 Tracks of Whack
11 Tracks of Whack by Walter Becker (Audio CD - 1994)
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