Steely Dan’s Original ABC/Dunhill Reissue Notes, Part 6: Aja

Reprinted–nay, stolen from the band’s website whole cloth, out of fear it will be taken down there. (Hopefully they won’t force it to be taken down here. This is Dan Fan gold.)

In the 90s, Andy Mckay of ABC/Dunhill Records asked Donald and Walter if they’d write liner notes for a reissue of the their Dunhill albums. The notes appeared in sequence on each album as it was released. They are now collected here: 



Just yesterday, at long last, we finally had the opportunity to reply to the inane natterings of the arch-traitor Michael Phalen (see the original notes for the Aja album). 

Unfortunately, we were not at our swashbuckling best. By an astonishing coincidence, we had both freshly returned from lengthy sessions at our respective dental surgeons and were still in the delicate, brittle period before the Lorcet kicks in. 

Notwithstanding, we managed to get the “journalist” (now an exec at VH-1) on the horn and had it out with him, once and for all. What follows is more or less a transcript of our hastily arranged conference call. 

Operator: Your parties are all present now. You may go ahead. 

Becker: I’ll drink to that. 

Phalen: Hello? 

Fagen: You bastard! Becker: Liar, liar! 

Fagen: You little shit-heel, we’re gonna…

Phalen: Is that Donald? 

Becker: Guess again, dicknose. 

Phalen: Walter? 

Fagen: Dream on, son… 

Becker: All right Phalen, where are they? 

Phalen: What? Oh jeez, is this still about Stephanie and Diane? Because if it is, all I can tell you guys is what I told you last time and the time before and… 

Fagen: Who do you think we are, Phalen? A couple of chumps? 

Phalen: Listen, fellahs – I’ve told you this a thousand times – I took them out to Roy’s on Sunset, we had the Chinese chicken and then I drove them to their car, which was parked in the lot at Tower Records, and that was it! I never saw them again, Never! Okay? And how many freakin’ years ago was… 

Becker: Tell me Mike, how’s your Beamer holding up? 

Phalen: Jesus! Un-unh, not again.You stay the fuck away from my car! Those tires cost 400 bucks apiece to replace. Really, if anything happens, I… 

Becker: You? You what? – You and what armed division? 

Phalen: Oh c’mon, you guys must be joking, or insane. For one thing, those girls are, like, middle-age moms by now. You know, if you guys come anywhere near my car, there’s no way your new album’s gonna be played on VH-1, you understand that? No way. I mean it, this… 

Fagen: Pay attention, Michael – we’re only gonna say this once. Bring the girls to the lobby of the Lowell Hotel on Madison and 63rd Street tomorrow at midnight, or else. 

Phalen: And MTV won’t play it either! Where do you two get… 

Becker: (hangs up)

Damn if that didn’t feel good! 

When we called Phalen back the this morning, we were told that he had “moved on” from VH-1 and could no longer be reached there. Of course we wish him all the best, and it’s good to know that there’s no better time to buy residential property in Oswego than right now, should Michael decide to go that way. 

Incidentally, for those lucky fans who may have purchased a reissue of the Pretzel Logic album on which the intro to Rikki is missing, or else a reissue of Katy Lied with the incorrect sequence of tunes, you may rest assured that you have come into possession of a valuable collector’s item. These particular rarities are even now fetching a handsome price on eBay, and we suspect they’ll be worth more and more as time goes by. The circumstances surrounding the accidental release of these flawed reissues make for an interesting story which we have been prevailed upon to save for another time and another venue. 

As for the Aja album proper, so much has already been written about this ’70s blockbuster as to put it in imminent danger of becoming somewhat overly praised. Not wishing to add greatly to the bulk of verbiage expended so far, we would like to make the following announcement: 

When we recently sent for the multitrack masters of Aja so as to make new surround-sound mixes, we discovered that the two-inch multitracks of the songs “Aja” and “Black Cow” were nowhere to be found. At one point, we were told that the producer had apparently abandoned the entire set of multitracks at A&R Studios. Several decades later, when A&R closed down and the tapes were finally returned, the two songs in question had somehow become separated from the other boxes. Then we heard a rumor that the original masters were incinerated when a fire that swept the backlot at Universal Studios spread to the nearby tape vault. 

Nevertheless, anyone having information about the whereabouts of these missing two inch tapes should contact HK Management at (415) 485-1444. There will be a wopping $600.00 reward for anyone who successfully leads us to the tapes. This is not a joke. 

Happy hunting. 

Yours truly (and remember, at our age, it makes sense to get a checkup once a year) – Donald and Walter 

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