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111 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Albums of all time - it has it all!
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...
Published on September 28, 2004 by L.A. Scene

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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The NightFly By
Donald Fagan is a musical Genius no doubt, and has been part of a great era of music that I would call the Golden Age of Music. The 60's 70's and 80's were all great years for music that touched us in ways that any era may never quite do so again.
Steely Dan was a great sub pop culture band that struck the chord of wry wittiness that always bit nerves and struck...
Published on April 6, 2009 by P. C. macaluso


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111 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Albums of all time - it has it all!, September 28, 2004
By 
L.A. Scene (Indian Trail, NC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Nightfly (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.

"The Nightly" might only have 8 tracks, but remember that this collection was released a couple of years before CDs really hit the mainstream. But it is worth noting that four of the eight songs are over 5 minutes in length. Here is a breakdown of each of the songs:

"I.G.Y." is the opening track and the best known song. This is a 6:05 minute track and it is a masterpiece. Phillinganes electric piano combined with Fagen's synthesizers mesh perfectly with some terrific horn work (Fagan integrates a trumpet along with an alto, tenor, and baritone sax). As a result, the music is perfect for the retro/jazz feel. This is an interesting song from a lyrical standpoint because Fagen paints a picture of the future of the world from the perspective of a young man growing up in the 50s.

"Green Flower Street" from a music standpoint isn't quite retro, but Fagen does some nice crooning and gives it the retro feel from a vocals standpoint. The music is very catchy on this song and makes for some terrific listening.

"Ruby Ruby" is another song that has a terrific combination of keyboards, horns, and vocals. It almost has a bit of an "alley cat" feel to it. Definite retro feel to it. Fagen describes a girl named "Ruby" who that the young man from the 1950s was infatuated with.

"Maxine" almost has a feel going back to the roaring twenties from the way the song opens. Here's another song where Fagen uses all three saxaphones (Baritone, Alto, and Tenor). This song also features a young man is infatuated with a woman - in this case someone named Maxine. Listen to how Fagen switches gears with the vocals - especially when he sings "Mexico City is like another world". I believe Fagen does all the vocals in this song and he harmonizes them perfectly.

"New Frontier" takes us into the early 60s and the days of the bomb shelters. The vocals say "A Summer smoker underground - It's just a dugout that my dad built - In case the reds decide to push the button down", but Fagen explores other areas as well such as the modern woman (advent of the woman who has it all). This song like "Green Flower Street" is going to have some very catchy music. You'll also hear some harmonica playing that adds a nice touch to this song.

"The Nightfly" is title track and it is appropriate - this is the song that is the glue that holds the whole album together. I get the impression that the young man that Fagen references (in the liner notes) having the fantasies is 'Lester the Nightfly' (whom he sings about). This song is a song about DJ (Lester) who sings about Jazz and Conversation. After all, isn't this what this album is about - a combination of jazz music and conversation themes (i.e. romance, the bomb, the future, etc). Great retro feel to this song. The background vocals - especially the call letters 'WJAZ' are awesome.

"The Goodbye Look" is a very underrated song on this collection. This is a song that has a Latin Jazz feel. No doubt, Fagen is singing about Havana, Cuba - once a vacation paradise now in the hands of the communists is place where 'the embassy has been hard to reach'. Great song and in a lot of ways might be the strongest track on the collection.

"Walk Between the Raindrops" is the shortest track at 2:38. I consider this the weakest track, but even this isn't all that bad. It has a nice catchy beat to it. Another great retro feel with a "Miami flare".

The liner notes contain all of the lyrics as well as giving credit to the outstanding musicians that contribute to this album. As mentioned above, Fagen notes (in the liner notes) the common theme that runs through this album. This is a collection that stands the test of time. If you are a music fan, you'll want this music as a part of your collection. A must have!
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have, March 10, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Nightfly (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.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Desert Island" Disc, March 28, 2002
This review is from: The Nightfly (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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grammy that wasn't to be., November 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Nightfly (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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still The Greatest Album After 17 Years, May 26, 1999
By 
David Stadille (Monterey, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
I couldn't believe it was Donald Fagen's voice - I stopped in my tracks, pondered the matter for a few seconds and then looked up. The store clerks must have been doing this all day long to walk-ins like me. I said " Is this Donald - " and some guy behind me said " Right, Fagen, brand new", as if to say kindly: shut up and listen. That was in 1982. To this day, I've never grown tired of The Nightfly, quite possibly the greatest album ever produced. This is THE music document to have on your person for that moment in which you are called to board an ark or time machine, or for any lesser situation in which some knucklehead gives you the Goodbye Look. Just buy this CD and listen. Fagen, a true genius, is indeed the master of Pop/Rock and every song on The Nightfly is a timeless work of art. I would just like to meet Don Fagen some day and thank him for his contribution to music and my life's happiness.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand master class music..., May 3, 2006
By 
Raising Men (Southeast, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
This album has been one of my top 3 favorites of all time since my husband introduced me to it when we got married 15 years ago. I was only 19 at the time, but luckily I recognized its greatness. My hubby is an audio engineer, and he's trained me over the years to really *hear* the music. The Nightfly is one album by which he measures much of the music he mixes. I find myself pulling this cd out often. It's perfect for any occasion. I turn it up loud and groove to it while I clean house. (How could mopping NOT be fun while bouncing to "Between the Raindrops"?) Yard work becomes easier as well. We made copies of it to keep in the car. It makes great background music when having other couples over for dinner and cards. DH and I even like to listen to it in the evenings while chatting over a glass of wine. ("Maxine" is a smoooooth, bittersweet slow-dance song.) Donald Fagen's voice is classic. His use of lyric can not be matched. His songs are stories; each song on this cd is like a chapter in a book.

I can't pick out a favorite song here. I never skip any. It must be enjoyed from beginning to end. I do have favorite moments and lyrics in many of the songs that sometimes merit a re-play. In Ruby Baby, it's the spot after the second verse, right after the piano solo - when everything stops but the drums and the one bass piano note- "bomp,bomp...bomp,bomp..." In New Frontier, it's the lyrics "Well I can't wait till I move to the city/till I finally make up my mind/ to learn design, and study oooverseas..." The title track, well, what can I say? "I've got plenty of java and Chesterfield Kings/but I feel like crying/I wish I had a heart of ice/a heart like ice" They just don't make music like this anymore.

Even our sons, currently ages 13 and 10, love this album. They also like Kamakiriad and our Steely Dan albums. (But, they may have been "ruined" by their dad. They don't listen to today's music. My 13 yr old's favorite is jazz, & especially the Bill Evans trio, and the 10 yr old's is old Fleetwood Mac!) I promise, you will not be disappointed with this album.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing Up With Donald Fagen, January 29, 2003
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
I had always thought that Steely Dan were the most cynical musical [group] the world had ever known, and had always loved them for it. So who knew that Donald Fagen's first outing after the "breakup" of Steely Dan would be so warm hearted? Fagen takes a nostalgic look back at his years growing up, listening to jazz, and wishing for the amazing world of science to make the world a better place. All the while, the music maintains the high quality jazz pop hybridizing that Steely Dan fans were expecting from him.
There's more affection on "The Nightfly's" eight songs than Steely Dan put into their entire library. "I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World)" has such a bright outlook that you have to remind yourself that this is the man who once sang about a nuclear future with the words "assassins, cons and rapers, might as well die." There's longing for the first love in "Maxine" and a telling remake of Dion and The Belmonts' "Ruby Baby" to show that, despite the ennui and world-weary tone that Steely Dan often took, Donald Fagen was more of a romantic than we ever suspected.
"The Nightfly" even sports a very un-Dannish sense of humor. Witness the casual dismissal ot the titlar lovesick DJ's crank caller...
"You say there's a race of men in the trees?
You're for tough legislation.
Thanks for calling.
I wait all night for calls like these."
...before he launches into a plea for his old love to come back.
Had this been the album after "Aja" and not after "Gaucho," Steely Dan would have ended with a bang instead of the whimper. And since this was the start of a near 20 year writer's block for Fagen, it gives us all the more reason to love the night (fly) life.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mellow classic, March 22, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
Wow. Five stars in 43 out of 45 reviews, with the remainder awarding three. How many other items on Amazon have a record that good?
Guess I'll have to fill in the gap with four stars, just to be contrary, though I probably love this album no less than most of the five-star gang. That a book, record, or video happens to be a personal favorite does not mean it necessarily would suit everyone. You must explain and justify.
Steely Dan pioneered a unique combination of infectiously danceable -- hell, outright happy! -- instrumental music linked to cynical, ironic, sarcastic, and even downright bitter lyrics. I often think a lot of folks who love to hear the hits air on a classics station or played by a cover band would blanch if they knew what the songs were really about.
Brilliant as that mix turned out to be, this 1982 "solo" album by Fagen came as a breath of warm, fresh air with its low-key funk, lounge-y jazz sound, and warm, nostalgic, and even tender lyrics. There's a bit of irony in the wide-eyed prognostications about life in the technological future, in "I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)" -- that was 1957-58, for you young 'uns -- but it's not in your face.
There are no rockers on the order of "Black Friday," "Boddhisatva," or "Reelin' In the Years." Instead, the album is packed with slower, lovely ballads and bouncy, optimistic dance music.
"Ruby Baby" is the one cover tune (a Lieber and Stoller), but the original "Maxine" is even more starry-eyed than that. "I.G.Y," "Green Flower Street" and "The New Frontier" look back to simpler, happier times with bouncey rhythms. "The Goodbye Look" is the one tune one might find on a Steely Dan album: it would not be out of place on _The Royal Scam_ or _Gaucho_, with its calypso beat and lyrical threat ("I believe I just got the goodbye look" is about an impending banana republic coup, not a romantic breakup).
Despite the recall of earlier historic times, the evocation of young romance (don't forget the lovely regret of "Walk Between Raindrops"), perhaps the warmest AND funniest song on the album is the title cut, about a graveyard shift disc jockey and call-in host.
This album is not going to leap out and grab you, but if you listen a few times, it will settle in comfortably for the long haul.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TIMELESS ART, February 6, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
I own over 1,000 c.d.'s (as I'm sure many of you other sick-o's do). My collection is about 60% classical, 39% jazz, and 1% all other. I don't listen to much rock/pop/dance-types of music. My uncle bought me this album when it first came out (half a lifetime ago, literally) and I STILL listen to it regularly. I have NEVER gotten sick of this album. To me, it is a masterpiece because it is timeless. I can honestly say that I'll still be listening to this album in 40 years. There's no question about it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fagen's Masterpiece, May 24, 2010
This review is from: The Nightfly (Audio CD)
It's hard to believe that the 1983 Grammy award for Album of the Year went to Toto for "Toto IV" instead of "The Nightfly." Fagen had been producing a lasting catalog of innovative & classic rock music with Steely Dan partner Walter Becker for over a decade when he released this absolute stunner and has remained relevant well into the 21st century. One wonders if the multiple Grammy awards given to Steely Dan in 2001 for "Two Against Nature" were awarded to correct the error of 1983... In any case, "The Nightfly" is a flat-out classic. Fagen's concept album offering the artist's backward-looking examination of his forward-looking adolescent fantasies entertained in the optimistic 1950s is a delight. While a natural extension of the slick and sophisticated Steely Dan sound, "The Nightfly" is a much warmer affair than anything Fagen had done before. Steely Dan lived in a shady musical world filled with miscreants, creeps, cynicism, and detachment - a world not yet gone wrong for the young protagonist in "The Nightfly." Fagen's nostalgic affection for his material here distinguishes it from most of his other work and gives it an emotional warmth not normally associated with his music. There is not a weak song to be found and each track stands on its own while contributing to a very cohesive unifying concept. The singles "I.G.Y." and "New Frontier" sparkle with sunny idealism even in the face of the cold war threat (even a bomb shelter is just another place for our hero to meet beautiful women). "Maxine," "The Nightfly," and "The Goodbye Look" are more melancholy affairs where the narrator ruminates on dreams of romance and heartache to come. Each cut is a work of art. Matching each song's lyrical and melodic craft is a level of musicianship unparalleled. The album's personnel is a who's who list of the best studio musicians of the day. Couple the talent with the use of cutting edge recording technology (the album was one of the earlier fully digital recordings) and you have great music that sounds incredible.
If you can still remember what it was like to be young, naive, and hopeful, then you will appreciate "The Nightfly." Heck, you can appreciate the musical artistry here even if you were always a cynical jerk, you'll just be missing out on the spirit of what makes this record as special as it is.
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The Nightfly
The Nightfly by Donald Fagen (Audio CD - 1990)
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