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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, October 10, 2000
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Fagen and Becker followed Aja with another Top 10 LP, this one released in late 1980. At #10, the song Hey Nineteen gave 'em their biggest hit in six years; it joins the hit Time Out of Mind (featuring Mark Knopfler); Gaucho; My Rival , and more!
The multiplatinum success of Aja made Steely Dan, the musical conceit of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, a household name. But that prosperity came bundled with a fateful triple-whammy for rock's dyspeptic duo: unrealistic commercial expectations, a critical backlash spawned by punk's nascent mewling, and the long-simmering meltdown of their artistic partnership. But the cool, perfect sheen of 1980's Gaucho tipped its hand to none of it. Ironically, those fashion victims who sniffed up their sleeves at Don and Walt's decadence-tinged Me Decade manifesto couldn't have had a clue that just maybe Gaucho's typically oblique protagonists had uncomfortably blurred from the third-person to the first this time 'round. At least that's what Becker and Fagen hint at in their smart-assed notes to this digitally remastered, definitive edition (all original artwork and printed lyrics restored) of the final album before their 20-year hiatus. Pristine and sonically polished (three years and seven studios worth), time has served Gaucho well. Even its sense of laconic detachment now seems but a logical bridge to the two-decade removed Dan of Two Against Nature. To their credit, Becker and Fagen didn't trash the first half of Steely Dan's legacy on Gaucho, they simply burnished it to oblivion. -Jerry McCulley
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