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Circus Money

4.2 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 10, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

It's been 14 years since Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker's last (and first) solo album was released. Now, at long last, the wait is finally over for the second. Circus Money finds Becker's sardonic sensibility completely intact and each of the album's songs, inflected with jazz, reggae, and rock phrasing, is a masterpiece of musical understatement and lyrical nuance.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 10, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mailboat Records
  • ASIN: B0016KJS3I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,396 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Let me first state that I am one of those people (and we know who we are) that thinks that Walter Becker's first album,11 Tracks of Whack (affectionately called 11TOW) is one of the top 100 albums of all time. There is a genius within that recording that will eventually manifest itself years hence, and the public at this moment in time is not ready to fully appreciate the all the subtle nuances and playfulness of that CD. One needs to listen to 11TOW more than a few times for it to fully penetrate the brain and reveal all the richness contained within.

This is not the case with Walter Becker's brand new effort, Circus Money, however. Circus Money hits you right in the hippocampus at first listen and by day three you are awash in the music so much so that the tunes barely leave your brain. They continue to reveal more of their rich essence as time goes on. Circus Money is more polished than 11TOW, and in my opinion closer in feeling to a Steely Dan recording, but with more of the risk taking and wittiness that is Walter Becker's trademark. From the hilarious Selfish Gene, to forlorn protagonist in Downtown Canon one hears a musical description of the places and circumstances only to be found in a cast of characters from a great literary piece. These little auditory vignettes leave me wanting more and this recording clearly demonstrates that Walter Becker is not done yet with the fine expression of his craft. I hope Mr. Becker is planning on another recording in the near future, as I don't think I can wait another 14 years for the next one as we are all getting too old too fast.
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Format: Audio CD
Circus Money, the sophomore album by Steely Dan's Walter Becker, comes a mere 14 years after his initial solo effort (11 Tracks of Whack), and if any album has ever justified such a long wait, this one certainly does.

Take the smoothness and production of Steely Dan, add a dash of reggae, top with a voice that is remarkably suited for the songs, and you'll have Circus Money. Larry Klein (of Joni Mitchell fame, whose production work on Herbie Hancock's latest album garnered it a Grammy for Album of the Year) keeps it simple, and the production never detracts from the best parts of the album, namely Walter's intelligent and wry lyrics and the interplay between some of the finest musicians recording today, made into a cohesive unit by touring together with Steely Dan and Walter's songwriting partner Donald Fagen over the last five years. This doesn't sound like a collection of musicians so much as a real band, and that makes this album sound more cohesive than any Steely Dan related release since perhaps Donald's The Nightfly, way back in 1982.

Listing highlights on this album would be as simple as making a list of all of the songs, leaving none off, but it seems easiest to break this album down as such: songs that remind you of why you love Steely Dan (Downtown Canon, Paging Audrey, Upside Looking Down), songs that show the reggae influence most clearly (Bob is Not Your Uncle Anymore, Do You Remember the Name), and songs that show-off Walter's aptitude as a songwriter (all other tracks).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Becker's new album is, as most Dan fans will expect, superbly arranged and performed. Also, the caliber of its musicianship and the subtleties of its production are astounding.

So why three stars? If you are a loyal worshipper of what Steely Dan produced and still represent to contemporary music, you may want more, and more in the sense of originality rather novelty, this is where Becker, to me, falls a bit short. One specific aspect of this is the preponderance of songs influenced by Reggae rhythms, a genre I love but find too "slicked up" here, for my taste.

Of course, he "owns" the Dan sound as much as Fagen, and there no laws against plagiarizing yourself, still the music is too predictable, if you will, and does not take the chances in expanding the Dan universe that prior solo albums--by him and Fagen--took in the past.

This is the paradox for me, no song will join the pantheon of Steely Dan classics yet more than one of these tunes may end up one of your favorite tracks of '08. So, if you can be satisfied with more of their sound, you'd be happy, but if you're looking for a remarkable album you may not be ecstatic.

You might call me unfair in holding Becker to a higher standard than so many other people out there but consider it a tribute to the great influence his work has had in the past on me, rather than any kind of vendetta. In conclusion, more than good enough to own, yet not an album that might dominate your playlists.
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Format: Audio CD
...or at least one of them. I really cant believe how good this is.

I'll admit, I didnt see anything great about 11 Tracks of Whack. I thought it was good, but easily the worst thing Steely Dan or the two solo ever did, so when I heard Becker had a NEW album coming out, I was very hesitant. I was not planning on getting it at all, and I am probably one of the biggest Dan Fans under the age 30 on the planet. But I heard a couple 30 second clips on his website, and from the first hmmm, 2 seconds, I knew this was different, this was better, this was Steely Dan with a twist...

After listening to the album 3 times, I can safely say this may be the best thing the Dan has put out this millenium and is the second best solo album after (just take a guess...) The Nightfly.

Songs like Downtown Canon, Paging Audrey, and Upside Looking Down show a softer, almost beautiful side of Walter Becker and may be the best songs he (or Steely Dan) has done since Aja... yeah, they are that good. Just listen to Keith Carlock's drum fill at the beginning of Upside, it just opens this beautiful sound that fills your speakers... may be the best opener he (or, again, Steely Dan) has ever done.

Circus Money and Somebody's Saturday Night are probably the two "catchiest" songs on the album... I could see either being a single. These are two great, more upbeat songs, while Saturday Night is probably my fav. on the album...

Door Number Two is another killer that really starts the album great... sounds like classic Dan with a 21st century mini-reggee feel...

Three Picture Deal is a great closer... with the girls singing "1,2,3 Picture Deal!" with Becker following them, instruments building until it is a rocky/reggee/jazzy blast of absolute perfection.
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