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The Nightfly

4.9 out of 5 stars 281 customer reviews

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The Nightfly
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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Product Description

After the breakup of Steely Dan in 1981, Fagen set to work on this critically acclaimed solo debut, which would peak at #11 on the Billboard charts on the strength of the hit I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World) and its follow-up, New Frontier . Also includes the jazz-based tunes Green Flower Street; Ruby Baby; Maxine ; the title track, and more.

Donald Fagen's 1982 solo debut extends the sleek, smart pop craft of his work with Steely Dan into the realm of the concept album, taking the Dan's penchant for intricate plotting, evocative narrative voices, and allusive imagery to the logical next step. Fagen's connective thread is futurist nostalgia for the "New Frontier" as anticipated from the prosperous vantage point of late-'50s America. He romanticizes a brave new world of technology in the sultry diorama of "I.G.Y.," celebrating the coming glories of the Atomic Age. He then filters that view through his own suburban adolescence--a would-be seduction in a fallout shelter, the siren song of a graveyard-shift jazz DJ, a not-quite-hard-boiled noir adventure ("The Goodbye Look") that borrows its title from an early '60s Ross MacDonald mystery. Song for song, the set's a stunner and stands apart from Steely Dan thanks to a unique, poignant romanticism embodied in Fagen's yearning "Maxine" and a creamy update of Dion & the Belmonts' "Ruby Baby." --Sam Sutherland
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000002KXV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,538 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Ask those who follow the music industry closely and they will tell you that Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" is clearly one of the great albums of the last 25 years. Currently there is an artist on the music scene named Norah Jones who has gained some fame with a retro/jazz sound. While Jones does a nice job on this, Fagan does it even better on this album. Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" brings the jazz/blues sound to the forefront, but takes it a step further. "The Nightfly" also is a concept album. In the CD's liner notes, Fagen says that the songs on this album "represent certain fantasies that might of been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties". When you listen to the songs on this collection, you will easily see how the theme flows through - and as a result, this enhances the listening experience.

Fagen assembles an outstanding lineup of musicians to work with him on this solo effort. While Fagen plays piano and synthesizers on many of the tracks, he also gets some help from acclaimed keyboard player, Greg Phillinganes. Phillinganes is best known for co-writing on several albums with Lionel Richie. Phillinganes contributes keyboards on 6 of the 8 tracks. The late Jeff Porcaro - from Toto (ironically "Toto IV" won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1982 and "The Nightfly" was denied any awards) contributes drums on 5 of the 8 tracks. Valerie Simpson - from Ashford and Simpson contributes some outstanding background vocals on 5 of the tracks. Finally, guitarist Rick Derringer is on 2 tracks. These musicians do a simply outstanding job at making this the great album that it is, however don't underestimate Fagan. Fagen's unique vocals and crooning style are the real star of this show.
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11 Comments 117 of 124 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I remember watching Night Tracks on TBS long before MTV made it to our cable service, and I was always intrigued when the New Frontier video came on. I didn't really know what to think of it, but I knew that it was much different from anything else playing at the time. Who would have thought that a mere 19 years later, the album would still hold a top spot in my collection?
This album represents perhaps the best work Donald Fagen has ever done. That's a pretty strong statement considering the excellent body of work he and Walter Becker put together (and continue to put together) as Steely Dan, but a mere listen supports the possibility. The lyrics and sounds blend together perfectly, creating a soundscape that never fails to mesmerize. The texture of each song is different from every other, but the album as a whole flows with incredible ease. No matter how many times you play it, it is a joy to hear from beginning to end.
In an era dominated by dated synth sounds and topical lyrics that don't survive beyond their own time, The Nightfly remains a timeless work that is as fresh today as it was the day it was recorded. You could do worse than this album; you would be hard-pressed to do better.
Comment 29 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
I was a late bloomer when it came to succumbing to the charms of Steely Dan. Oh, there were a few songs I liked, but I always viewed them as an essentially top 40 band. It was their masterpiece Aja that finally got me to appreciate the sheer genius of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
Then came Fagen's solo effort Nightfly. I can think of few other albums that I could listen to daily without tiring of them. Every song is masterfully arranged. The album is upbeat, suave, romantic and an impeccable blend of jazz and rock.
The narrator of this magnificent theme album is flush with optimism throughout for both his own possibilities and for the possibilities of society at large, fueled by the efflorescence of the technological age.
The only hitch in his utopian panorama is the obvious reference to the communist takeover of Cuba in The Goodbye Look.
My favorites are the forward-looking IGY, the wistful Maxine, the hopeful New Frontier, and the tropical feel of both The Goodbye Look and Walk Between the Raindrops.
Special mention should be given to the title track. How many of us actually wish there were stations like WJAZ? I would think that all lovers of non-commercial music yearn for such a station. Only a few of us are lucky to live in a place where a good independent station plays non-commercial jazz.
Donald Fagen has earned his wings with The Nightfly. Not only is he a masterful lyricist, but he is a virtuoso musician.
I own thousands of CDs, tapes, and LPs and if I were allowed to bring only ten to a desert island exile, Nightfly might well be one of them.
2 Comments 48 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I often thought about buying this album during the 17 years since its release. In fact, I made a mental note of "The Nightfly" at the precise moment in 1983 when Donald Fagen lost the Best Album Grammy for it. The fact that he was nominated was the first thing to surprise me. The Grammy's aren't known for awarding those who rightfully should be. Then came the look of disappointment on his face and the face of the girl sitting next to him when the award went to someone else. I have never been able to forget that reaction, probably because my instinct also said he was robbed. Then again, sometimes records choose you, and who is to question. In any event, I did recently buy "The Nightfly" and am very happy I did. To wait so long to be surprised is a treat. Of course, I expected it to not be what I expected, and I was right. But that has made all the difference and will keep me playing it. There is a lot to discover here, and it takes time to unfold, like a good jazz record. This explains its longevity and adds to Fagen's credibility as an artist. I am also left to ponder the irony of "Walk Between Raindrops." For such a upbeat number, why do I get teary?
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Topic From this Discussion
the difference between the nightfly 4 disc box set?
The box set is actually 3 different CDs (Nightfly, Kamakiriad, and Morph the Cat) plus a DVD. There's some bonus stuff in there too. If you have the three CDs I mentioned, you can probably skip this. If not, it's well produced and a great way to really dive into some Fagan!
Mar 10, 2012 by Coach Dave |  See all 2 posts
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