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Donald Fagen's 2nd solo album, 1993's "Kamakiriad," came darn close to being released as a Steely Dan album---Fagen's old Dan co-hort, Walter Becker, produced the album, plays guitar on it, and co-wrote the song "Snowbound," t'boot. But since Fagen practically wrote everything else for the album on his own, "Kamakiriad" was ultimately released as a Donald Fagen solo album (and the official return of Steely Dan would have to wait until 2000's "Two Against Nature"). But no matter---this "almost Steely Dan" album is simply terrific, filled with all of the high trademark qualities you'd expect in the music of a Dan man. It's a cool mixture of cocktail jazz/pop, featuring Fagen's hip vocals, cookin' guitars, fat drums, smooth keyboards, happenin' horns, and, for the cherry on top, great sound & production that's very crisp. Not only that, but "Kamakiriad" is a cool *concept* album, telling the story of an Everyman living sometime in the future, who takes off for a spin in his technological wonder car of the 21st century, the Kamakiri, and has several adventures along the way. Being a single album rather than a double, the storyline for "Kamakiriad" may be a lot thinner than, say, The Who's "Tommy" or Pink Floyd's "The Wall," but I don't think Fagen was trying to compete with these double-album rock epics, and the story he tells here is nice & simple, to the point, and a lot of fun, just like the songs themselves.So, hop in the car, hit the "Trans-Island Skyway," admire the "Countermoon," take your pick of "Tomorrow's Girls," chill out "On The Dunes," and head out to that "Teahouse On The Tracks." Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad" is a wonderful ride. :-)
A Steely Dan record in all but name (would it have heaped Grammys had it been under the brand label?), Donald Fagen's second solo album had high art written all over it when it first came out in 1993. It cruises along with a strange detactched swing, set to some futuristic be-bop that only the coolest of futures could allow for. Millions of miles and a couple millennia away from the nostalgia of "The Nightfly," Fagen steered his imagination into a vision of the (then) coming turn of the century, where an environmentally perfect steam driven vehicle could both transport you and grow you a salad. If you think that sounds bizarre, the truly weird thing is that the music is so slick and cool. In 1993, this was about as far off the mainstream as you could get. Of course, "Kamakiriad" was roundly ignored. Too highbrow for ear candy aficionados, too slick for the exploding grunge scene, and lacking the marquee value of being a Steely Dan record, Fagen's ode to the "Wonderful World" of "IGY" just couldn't find an audience that was swallowing Jell-O shots of Michael Bolton or huffing up the heady magical odorous sulfur residue of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." But ya know something? Having just purchased "Kamakiriad" on DVD-Audio, it probably has a sturdier framework than most of what topped the charts that year. It most certainly has grown on me over the time since I originally picked up my CD copy ten plus years ago. "Tomorrow's Girls," the first single, is what "Peg" or "Hey 19" might have been, if the women in those songs were androids. Like a b-movie from the Roger Corman drive-in flicks of Fagen's youth, these spaced invaders landed on the Jersey Beaches like some freak form of "The War Of The Worlds." Except they have a fat juicy bass pulsing under "a virus wearing pumps and pearls.Read more ›
"Kamakiri", I have been told, means "Beatle" in Japanese. The "-ad" suffix as in Odyssiad, so it's journey of the beatle. The car is "not a freeway bullet or a bug with monster wheels, just a total bio-sphere." The logical extension of "Aja", "Gaucho" and other late Steely Dan. Exquisitely well thought out, cerebral, yet funky. The story of the journey of an improbable solar powered car with a vegetable garden inside! Full of clever Fagan lyrics. Rock, jazz, R&B, New age influences, impossible to classify. A great stereo test record, spectacular recording quality! Standout song is "Tomorrows Girls", a cautionary tale diseased about beautiful Party Girls from outer space who come to earth for a good time with Earth Guys. "A virus wearing pumps and pearls". Listen for the fireworks when "some loser fires off a flare". Kamakiriad is chock full of lyrical, tongue-in-cheek songs, not a bad cut on the album. Gentle non-abrasive music. A masterwork! The only thing wrong with this album is the length of time it took Donald Fagen to do it. Let's hope he does another album soon! Kilgore Trout meets Steely Dan!
Initially, I bought this CD only because I loved the song "Tomorrow's Girls". But after listening to this CD many, many times, the rest of the songs really grew on me. Donald Fagen has done an awesome job of blending jazz with pop, with a little bit of a Steely Dan sound thrown in, too. In fact, I probably would not have paid much attention to this album were it not for the fact that I'm a big Steely Dan fan. All of the songs on this album are simply excellent, especially "Florida Room", "On the Dunes", "Trans-Island Skyway", and, of course, "Tomorrow's Girls". If you appreciate fine music, do yourself a big favor and get this album-it's really cool! It's much better than a lot of the new music out there.
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