Donald Fagen / Dan of Steel


#21

@OneSecondBefore I listened to that album and nothing about it really caught my attention. Thanks for sharing it, though.


#22

Dang, looks like we got ourselves a musical gulf between us! Thanks for checkin’ it out though.


#23

The collection called Citizen is a permanent fixture in my listening diet


#24

I’m used to it. In fact, it’s what I’ve come to expect.

I would be interested to know why you made an association between it and Nightfly, though. They seem to me very different musical works with slim stylistic points of comparison.


#25

They’re both lush, sentimental hi-fi 80’s art-pop solo albums by major singer-songwriters. They do have pretty different moods though, with Nightfly being youthful and extroverted while Flat Earth is atmospheric, introverted, and fantastical. Nightfly is definitely jazzier, while Flat Earth is more synth-pop oriented (though “I Scare Myself” is as jazzy as anything on Nightfly). They’re certainly different in major ways, but I see a lot of commonality.


#26

I have never listened to Steely Dan. I tried one of the outtakes above which was less bad than this Gaucho track.

I could only last two minutes into Gaucho before I had to turn it off. The timbre of almost everything was completely wrong, it has this sleazy, over-friendly quality. Strong associations with airports, elevators, and the worst excesses of commercialism. A plasticky, inorganic, cloying timbre. That and the melodies/harmonies were, for lack of a better word, corny. I didn’t get the usual sense of anticipation and release listening to it, so much as a kind of monotonous ‘everything is exactly as expected’. But it did not feel like it came from a place of experimentation so much as an intellectual exercise in trying to craft ‘perfect’ music.

It was so unpleasant an experience for me that it might have triggered a mild anxiety attack. I’m only getting over it now but I had to let this post sit open for twenty minutes.


#27

it’s good dude don’t have a cow

Some more choice guitar work I wonder what ole’ Jeff is up to these days I bet he is still rippin’ and tearin’ with the best of e

More recently, he has been working as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.[1]

Oh.


#28

tulpa I bet you’re thinking “elevator” because

  1. all jazz from 80s-90s sounds like a mall now
  2. just shy of 2:00, where you gave up and let it ricochet around your head for 20 minutes, the lady vocalists sing the word “elevator” lmao

Lol that we’ve reached the point where fake vaporwave aesthetics have so popularly replaced the past that just hearing very precisely played saxophones and DX7s makes ppl think “I’m in a grocery store or other place where they would pipe in music that sounds like Steely Dan”. Not only that, people are so self-aware of capitalism that now hearing something they would’ve classified as just boring and soulless ten years ago makes them seriously fucking freaked out and uncomfortable

Unfortunately Steely Dan kind of got ruined by time. It’s not their fault that the very atmosphere they were going for got cheapened. They were already doing a finicky sort of sound based around the cusp of technology of the era and nowadays production tech is such that it’s the shitty musicians who sound really technically on-point all the time and the good musicians who know they don’t need to care. Back when Gaucho got recorded James Ferraro and Lopatin had not popularized the tradition of using jazz sounds to evoke cheapness. Those timbres were just top-of-the-line contemporary jazz sounds. It was impossible to make something sound like that for cheap. Now it’d be easy, that’s all we can hear - Now nobody would work so hard to make something that sounded so aggressively fake. Don’t take offense at my next sentence because it’s not really directed at you.

That’s why they rock, moron! Of course it’s inorganic and plasticky. It’s a bunch of white nerds born in the 50s playing snooty jazz on expensive plastic instruments a million times until they get it exactly right. How could you expect anything else from that setup? more worryingly Why would that sound upset you? It sounds like exposure to companies have redefined your opinion of extremely proficient playing of contemporary instrumentation circa 1980 so you hear it as advertisement jingles. That’s sad!

Personally I don’t listen to Steely Dan besides around Christmas, their Christmas song, Charlie Freak. It’s so fucking good. It’s fun as hell with a cohesive story, nice creative lines without being obnoxious, and a great atmosphere that plays with how lame and wrong Christmas music sounds, honoring a season that kills off the cold and alone. The drumming is stunningly snappy and well-executed by Jeff Porcaro. Of course now you could just program that in, so better get a doctors note to enjoy it.


#29

I don’t really know why I’ve kinda dodged this act insofar as:

  • The name/origin of is cool
  • I’ve been listening to Supertramp records since birth and to this day

#30

Not to speak for Tulpa, but I don’t think the anxiety comes from our expectations re: elevator music and capitalism, but just how obscenely meticulous and labored Gaucho sounds against the soullessness of the lyrics/vibes. That kind of juxtaposition makes me feel like I’m being sold something or otherwise manipulated. I mean, look at the adjectives you use to describe “Charlie Freak”–cohesive, creative, atmospheric, snappy, well-executed–you could be describing the interior of a luxury SUV.

Again talking about those first three albums, they have this tender, soulful, sardonic vibe, and the music is way more spontaneous while still pretty clean and meticulous.


#31

To me, a big difference between Supertramp and Steely Dan is that Supertramp feels authentically working class in this kind of gritty way I find appealing.


#32

I don’t think this means anything.

Also, I totally expected Tulpa’s reaction.


#33

I’m talking about their lyrics, which (as you’ve said) you don’t engage with at all.


#34

In that song? I haven’t heard it. And I feel it is important to note that I don’t really “connect” with any lyrics, anywhere, so for that to be the case with Steely Dan is not unusual or really a way to twist my own claim against me into a qualitative critique. I just don’t think you can latch onto a bunch of oft-used adjectives and say “A-ha! Advertorial materialist lingo!!” In fact, automobiles are usually described in much more dramatic terms that suggest the machine is a sublime force of nature which must be tamed.

It’s okay for music to be “well-executed”, guys. Not everything has to conform to the pedestrian SB taste formula of abrasive + lo-fi + “punk” = Authentic.


#35

It’s okay for music to be “well-executed”, guys. Not everything has to conform to the pedestrian SB taste formula of abrasive + lo-fi + “punk” = Authentic.

Hey now just @ me next time.


#36

don’t really want to get into the broader convo here cos I don’t know much about Steely Dan, but this review was definitely written in the context of 1) early 2000’s Pitchfork being and di crescenzo in particular being extremely snarky about basically everything (unfortunately forming a semi-accurate stereotype about Pitchfork that persists, much like stereotypes about certain bands… nevermind) and 2) two against nature being released to insane acclaim that was more about Steely Dan’s entire career up to that point than the album itself, eventually winning boatloads of awards in a year that was actually pretty decent for actual new music. But this is what the Grammys are always like, so whatever.

Anyway Steely Dan has definitely aged better than early 2000’s pitchfork reviews, contemporary music sounds more like Steely Dan now than it did in 2000 (fucking Michael McDonald is cool again), and probably the current generation of young music journos has less angst about baby boomer musical tastes, because their parents aren’t necessarily baby boomers

This is probably a more accurate representation of how the 'fork understands the 'dan in the current era


#37

That’s fine, I understand that attitude towards lyrics in general. Your earlier post explained it pretty well. But I can’t separate the aesthetic qualities of the lyrics and the music–the words (and their delivery) actually affect my attitude towards the music. That’s just me!


#38

I always get Steely Dan mixed up with Fleetwood Mac


#39

I don’t think that describes an sb taste formula.


#40

this is blatantly untrue, I would be surprised if anyone mistook the Lounge Lizards, Henry Threadgill, Bill Frisell or John Zorn for elevator music

White nerds born in the 50s playing snooty jazz can sound so much better than this. They can sound like jazz, for a start, instead of this awkward lifeless approximation of jazz.

The rest of your post borderline offends me because it is reconfiguring an entire genre around one sonically odious group while ignoring the vast majority of respected performers who were doing far more than anticipating the future of elevators out of some sort of misguided perfectionism. Steely Dan sounds like they tried to fix the “flaws” of jazz and the result is a lifeless white husk with no swing, no momentum, no energy. I’d rather listen to the most self indulgent free jazz.