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Morph the Cat CD

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Audio CD, CD, March 14, 2006
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Morph The Cat 6:48$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. H Gang 5:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. What I Do 6:00$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Brite Nightgown 7:16$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. The Great Pagoda Of Funn 7:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Security Joan 6:08$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. The Night Belongs To Mona 4:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Mary Shut The Garden Door 6:26$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Morph The Cat (Reprise) 2:51$1.29  Buy MP3 

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Biographyby Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Donald Fagen was one of the two masterminds behind Steely Dan, the seminal jazz-pop band of the '70s. Fagen's solo work has been a continuation of the band's work of the early '80s -- carefully constructed and arranged, intricately detailed pop songs that are more substantial than their stylish surface may indicate. His 1982 solo debut, ... Read more in Amazon's Donald Fagen Store

Visit Amazon's Donald Fagen Store
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Morph the Cat + Sunken Condos + Kamakiriad
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 14, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000E5N62U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,227 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first solo album in 13 years from Donald Fagan, Morph The Cat is another contemporary classic from half of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo Steely Dan. With Fagan's adventurous musical depth, uniquely layered lyrics and entertaining subject matter (from a conversation with the ghost of Ray Charles to a romantic liaison with an airport security guard named Joan), Morph the Cat is the newest chapter chronicling the most sophisticated music in rock. 2006.

For all the delight their fans take in parsing their wry and obstinately obscure lyrics, Steely Dan wouldn't command the kind of following they have if they weren't such consummate craftsmen in shaping melodies, layering keyboard and guitar effects and applying sophisticated doses of jazz, funk and soul. On his own albums, of which Morph the Cat is only the third--and the first since 1993's Kamakiriad--the group's sardonic co-mastermind Donald Fagen avails himself to more socially observant and personally revealing themes. But here, too, it's the music's dark shimmer and bumptious grooves that get under your skin, carrying his serious intentions with them. The grandly allusive "Morph," named after what Fagen describes as a "vast, ghostly cat-thing" that hovers in the Manhattan sky (not unlike Woody Allen's catty mother in "New York Stories"), reflects with no loss of irony or oblique meaning on the angst and sense of loss felt in the post-9/11 world. There are visions of death--including his own--and political oppression. There's a comic romantic encounter with a female airport security guard and a reverent faceoff with the ghost of Ray Charles, whose essence is nailed: "Well, you bring some church but you leave no doubt/As to what kind of love you love to shout about." Even when Fagen's hipster sensibility flirts with preciousness, the music is so richly, radiantly alive, the collective power of the songs can't be denied. --Lloyd Sachs

Customer Reviews

It's something you can really sink your teeth into, so to speak, and will reward repeated listens.
P. Opus
Every song on the album is great and different in its own way with a key theme of jazz that really makes the album flow relatively well.
Donald Fagen has a completely unique sound - the center of Steely Dan he comes back with one of his lyrically best works.
S. Mccartney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 102 people found the following review helpful By A. Gammill VINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Fagen's previous solo albums were "concept" albums: each had a definite theme that followed through each of the tracks. MORPH is also something of a concept album, although in a looser way. The title track sets the stage for what could have easily been called "New York City Stories," with various character dealing with their dreams and fears of post-9/11 America.

Musically, the album actually sounds more like Steely Dan than Donald Fagen...although this certainly isn't a bad thing. Fagen's trademark keyboards and bass abound throughout, but one immediately notices the prominent role of electric guitars on the disc. There's "real" brass (vs. electronically reproduced instruments) on several tracks, giving songs like "Brite Nightgown" and "The Night Belongs to Mona" extra punch. And my favorite new touch has to be the use of an organ and real piano on a few tracks. The music is uniformly tight, occasionally surprising (as in the trippy marimba flourish leading into the 3rd verse of "Brite Nightgown"), and NEVER dull.

As a longtime fan, my ongoing gripe is the brief amount of material covered here. Although MORPH has one more track than each of the previous Fagen albums, it still feels too short. And I love a good jazzy instrumental break, but a few of the tunes go on a little too long. In the final analysis: It's not as good as THE NIGHTFLY (nothing...ever...will be), but it's a slight improvement over KAMIKIRIAD.

Finally, a plea to Mr. Fagen himself...please don't make us wait another 13 years for more!
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85 of 97 people found the following review helpful By scoots on March 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Maybe I can shed a little bit of light on the situation regarding the "5.1 surround sound" of this DVD edition. Despite the fact that on the cover of the DVD it says "5.1 surround sound" and inside the case it says "this disc plays on all DVD players," these statements can be a bit misleading for those not familiar with DVD-Audio (DVD-A) systems.

A DVD-A system is an enhanced DVD player that has 6 separate channels of sound output going into a receiver (that has six channel capability), each output channel typically has its own cable from the DVD-A player into the receiver. The receiver then outputs the signal, usually identified as a "six channel output," to the speaker system.

Your standard DVD player (a DVD-V) does not have this capability. Even if you are able to output your DVD movies to a 5.1 system using some sort of optic connection, this is not the same as DVD-A system which needs those 6 separate channels. Yes, a DVD-V system will play the disc, but you will not hear the benefit of the 5.1 surround sound - in fact I think the sound heard on a DVD-V system with this album is inferior to that heard using the CD version on a standard CD player.

And as one of the other reviewers stated, there is really not a lot of video images associated with this disc (no MTV-type clips, no lyrics, no listing of musicians, etc.) So if you do not have a DVD-A system you are wasting your money buying this DVD, stick to the CD only.

HOWEVER, if you do have DVD-A, the sound is fabulous! Steely Dan was the reason I installed a DVD-A system initially and they never let me down.
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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Morph The Cat is Donald Fagen's first solo release in thirteen years. The album, must like most everything he's done with Steely Dan and his previous two solo releases, is an impeccably produced mix of jazz, rock & soul. The album is built around the fears of the post 9/11 world. Much of Mr. Fagen's lyrics are cynical in nature and while his bite is still intact, there is a more personable feel. "Security Joan" is a funny look at the sexuality of a frisking by an airport security guard. "What I Do" revolves around talking to Ray Charles. Darker tones creep into "The Night Belongs To Mona" which tells the tale of a woman afraid to leave her apartment after 9/11 while "Mary Shut The Door" is the most overtly political song that contains thinly veiled lines about the Bush administration like referring to a thuggish cult gaining control of the government. Mr. Fagen perfectly balances these darker feelings with his sardonic humor. While he is a noted studio perfectionist, the sound of the album never feels over manipulated. There is a fluidity and natural feel that allows the songs to breath.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Brian Whistler VINE VOICE on March 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Donald Fagen may very well be incapable of witing bad music. So, to criticize an artist of his caliber is almost superfluous in this age of disposable music. Nonetheless, because of the high standards he holds for his own output if may be useful to discuss his work as compared to the high watermarks of his career.

First of all, let me say that this is no Nightfly, easily the best of his trio of solo works. That being said, there are songs on here that are as musically deep, as richly textured and as lyrically savvy as anything he has ever produced.

I read in a recent interview that Fagen considers these solo efforts to be a trilogy of sorts, the first being a look at his youth, the second an exploration of mid life and this (hopefully not his last!) being a look towards the winter of his life. Death, he claims, is the overriding theme here. While there are certainly allusions to the Grim Reaper this CD hardly seems like the last creative gasp of an artist at the end of his productive years. It is interesting to note that the one song that directly addresses the subject of death (Brite Nightgown,) is delivered in the form of a lively and infectious funky groove that makes you want to get up and boogy!

Contrary to Fagen's stated intention, this CD does not seem to be a concept album per se.
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Will this be the last Fagen album?
He is a well-known perfectionist, but I would think that he probably has at least another solo album in him as well as more music from Steely Dan.
Mar 13, 2006 by P Magnum |  See all 6 posts
Morph The Cat
I can't speak to the LP, but the DVD-Audio/DTS version is awesome. It won the 2007 Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album.
Jan 2, 2009 by Steven L. Hunter |  See all 3 posts
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