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Steely Dan's best album of the 70's

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Showing 1-25 of 97 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 17, 2012, 6:16:29 PM PST
I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for Walter Becker and Donald Fagan as songwriters, arrangers and musicians. Steely Dan's output in the 70's is simply innovative, legendary and noteworthy within the movement of modern popular music.

So, I'm curious to see what others on here think of their output and would like to discuss some of their albums. The main 3 favorites of mine are Countdown to Ecstasy, which to me, defines the core sound of the original band that included Jim Hodder, Skunk Baxter and Denny Dias, and expands on the debut Can't Buy a Thrill most convincingly.

Pretzel Logic, the next album, has a little more variedness within the group's repetoire with East St. Louis Toodle-Oo, Through with Buzz and Charlie Freak which add different sides to the group and also would prove to be the last true effort in as far as the core band remaining as a live entity.

Aja is perhaps, Becker and Fagan's peak within their songcrafts and arrangements, as well as having the "creme de le creme" of session musicians within their midst whom were totally repsonsible in the shaping of the material presented.

Fire Away.....

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 4:09:41 AM PST
onsenkuma says:
This can be a tough call, depending on which version of Steely Dan I'm in the mood for. 'Can't Buy a Thrill' is the album that had the biggest impact on me when it was released, and the one I still consistently like listening to no matter what mood I'm in. There's NO doubting that 1972 was a VERY good year for rock, and this debut is an excellent case in point.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 5:01:51 AM PST
CD Lover says:
I love all of Steely Dan's albums from the 70s, but my personal favorite is Aja for the very reasons sighted in the OP. It's about the closest thing to a "perfect album" as I've ever heard. Can't Buy A Thrill is a very close second for me, with it's varied styles (as the band seemed to be more about making great individual songs than their overall sound at that point) all done impeccably well. Every single song on both of those albums is fantastic, in my book.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 8:17:15 AM PST
Thrill is a good and solid debut album, even though David Palmer's tenure was brief, he added some great vocal harmonies to tracks like Kings, Reelin' in the Years, Change of the Guard and his lead vocals on Dirty Work and Brooklyn are tasteful and moving. Becker and Fagan claim that they "went for it" commercially when composing some of the material for Thrill and its certainly not as musically difficult as the follow-up Countdown to Ecstasy which with tracks like King of the World and Your Gold Teeth so wonderfully display.

Good Points from both of your posts....

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 9:00:14 AM PST
Johnny Bee says:
They're all great, but I always seem to gravitate to 'Katy Lied' - the best run of songs imho.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 10:13:32 AM PST
1 Aja
2 Katy

Pretzel Logic

If you are curious you can always use the Search box located on the right of the page to find things like this:

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 10:17:53 AM PST
And how about this:

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 10:18:01 AM PST
MC Zaptone says:
For me they started with a blindingly superb debut album and got progressively worse. Which is still good by most other bands standards.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 10:21:07 AM PST
I used to think that way from what I heard on the radio. But once I grew older I sat down and listened to them and found Thrill to be pretty pop in comparison.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 10:31:47 AM PST
Another vote for Thrill

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 12:49:28 PM PST
vivazappa says:
1-Katy Lied...far and away their best and most lyrically twisted...
2-Royal the hardest...
3-Pretzel Logic...a trippy record I've always liked...
4-Countdown to Ecstacy...sizzling preformances...some quirky tunes...
5-Can't Buy a Thrill...excellent first record...
--My line in the sand is drawn here but I'll list the other two just for kicks--
6-Goucho (1981)...better than Aja but not near as good as the above...
7-Aja...yep Aja is well played by the musicians but it bores me to tears...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 1:01:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2012, 1:03:58 PM PST
Lauren says:
@vivazappa My list (and rationales) would look remarkably like yours, except that I'd switch Royal Scam with Katy as 1-2 and move Aja to #5, just above Thrill.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 1:03:45 PM PST
Lauren says:
@SA Care to share why you'd rank Pretzel Logic as worst?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 1:16:00 PM PST
Look no further than those so so songs named Parker, Barry, Louis and Gun. I find Two Against Nature and Everything Must Go far better.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 1:20:48 PM PST
Lauren says:
@SA I see. I enjoy Parker's Band and Barrytown, the last two not so much - East St. Louis in particular seems to me to drag - but being lukewarm on half the album definitely would bring it down.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 1:35:30 PM PST
Countdown To Ecstasy has always been my favorite.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 1:36:31 PM PST
There are good songs on that album, but it is up against greatness compared to the other albums. One of them has to be the worst.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 2:00:32 PM PST
Music Lover says:
i'll cheat a bit
Tied for 1st-Katy Lied,Aja,The Royal Scam
Tied for 2nd-Pretzel,Countdown,Can't Buy A Thrill

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 2:39:03 PM PST
COUNTDOWN TO ECSTASY. It was all slowly downhill after that, IMO.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 8:09:49 PM PST
I can't fathom listing ANY album from their 70's output as being bad...i.e. Pretzel Logic, are you kidding me? To each their own, but while Logic may not be as sophisticated musically such as Katy Lied or Aja, and it may not be as guitar heavy as Royal Scam, its variedness in composition styles(i.e. Monkey in Your Soul to Any Major Dude to Parker's Band to East St. Louis), not to mention the musicianship displayed stands on its own merits of worth and muscial innovation. Maybe I have Steely blinders on, but their latter day efforts in Everything and Nature are nowhere near what they accomplished in the 70's.

Gaucho is a little too Obsessive-Compulsive as a result of Aja being such a success and I think some of the songs like Third World Man, Glamour Profession and My Rival have a tendency to be generic and bland within their compositional crafts.

I mean no disrespect to anyone's opinion as this was my purpose in doing this thread, I just can't get over the Pretzel Logic bash, but that's why music is subjective(at least to me) and it also illustrates how people interpret music as good, bad or indifferent.

Posted on Dec 18, 2012, 9:48:37 PM PST
Auntie Lynn says:
Second (or third or fourth) the motion for Countdown - in fact, I think it's one of the best of the century...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 1:31:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012, 3:56:12 AM PST
MC Zaptone says:
Once a huge fan, I thought Can't Buy A Thrill to be cool laid back intelligent pop. While Countdown and Pretzel were fine, fine albums.
Apart from radio airplay I never listen to Steeley Dan anymore, Every time I try it seems the need to be musically cleverer and cleverer (sic) gets in the way. I can never quite work out where the obsessive/compulsive production ends and the self parody starts. That is something even the band have alluded to on occasion. I grew older and my tastes changed. They remain great at what they did and very fitting for the time.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 4:37:24 AM PST
CD Lover says:
I'm a huge fan of Pretzel Logic. "Any Major Dude" is my favorite Dan song of all-time; "Monkey In Your Soul", "Barrytown", "Night By Night", "Through With Buzz", "Charlie Freak", the title track - all probably in my top 20-25 Dan songs. I knock it down a couple pegs (no pun intended) for "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" and "With A Gun", which are among my least favorites but overall, an excellent Steely Dan album.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012, 5:07:09 AM PST
"Never seen you looking so bad, my funky one". One of the greatest opening lines to an album ever. I still like all of their 70s albums. Thrill hooked me right out of the gate, and I looked forward to every album that followed. I wasn't too taken by the later comeback albums, despite the Grammy. It's those early ones I return to on a regular basis.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012, 5:51:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012, 5:55:12 AM PST
vivazappa says:
Re: Pretzel...I've always liked Rikki BUT I must hear the long bass intro or it doesn't's the moment the bass drops off and the very soft first notes of the tune kick in that make it a favorite...and it was the first Dan record I bought...I went in to buy Can't Buy a Thrill and Pretzel had just come out...I figured "what the hell" and it opened up a whole new style of music for me...I found Thrill and Ecstacy a short time later at a used record store...both had really bad F'd up covers but the records were 25 cents apiece it may have been the best 50 cents I ever spent...I still have both of them...covers and all...oh yeah and Ecstacy was missing the lyric sheet which I pulled out of another used copy and shoved it in the sleve of the record I was buying that day...anyone else ever make that move?

Post Goucho my favorite record is Fagen's Nightfly!
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Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  22
Total posts:  97
Initial post:  Dec 17, 2012
Latest post:  Jan 24, 2013

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