Two Very Different Rankings of Steely Dan Albums

In the wake of the death of Walter Becker, we look at two websites who appraised and ranked Steely Dan’s albums, noting that the lists are very different from each other. It’s not surprising, perhaps, given the chameleonic nature of the work of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Some of it leans heavily toward jazz and some is more straight-ahead rock. Some lyrics are maddeningly obtuse and some more coherent. These things come down to personal taste sometimes. Which list do you agree with? How would you rank the work of this great band?

Video of the Week: How Steely Dan Composes a Song

With no more income from album sales, a 69-year-old rock legend has to go back on tour

(via Quartz) by Amy X. Wang

For musicians, it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times. Streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify are booming, helping the long-suffering music industry grow for the first time in decades.

But these new services make very little money for artists, with ephemeral streams paying out only a fraction of the revenue of actual album sales and downloads. Beyoncé, the highest-paid artist of last year, made the bulk of her money from a world tour. So did Guns N’ Roses, the second name on that list, and that band hasn’t even released a new album in a decade.

Another sign of the times is Donald Fagen, the 69-year-old cofounder of rock band Steely Dan, who has just announced a new tour in the US and Japan with an entirely new backup band called the Nightflyers. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), Fagen’s explanation for the new tour was decisively blunt

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Video of the Week: How Steely Dan Composes A Song

Thanks Jordan Taylor!

Steely Dan’s “Aja”: Eight Minutes of Genius

(Reprinted from CultureSonar)

steely danSteely Dan is known for jazz-influenced arrangements, quirky lyrics, and pristine production.  Even non-fans recognize the brilliance of their 1977 album, Aja. For many music lovers, it’s their first choice for a late night listen accompanied by iced Manhattans. Audiophiles use it to audition high end stereo speakers. Jazz purists discuss its intricacies with classic rock veterans.

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had formed Steely Dan as a band in the early seventies, serving as the group’s principal songwriters. They combined their love of rhythm and blues with their deep appreciation of jazz. They weren’t a rock band with horns or a jazz fusion band. Steely Dan was something different and unique — a rock band that used jazz harmonies.

By the time of Aja, Fagen and Becker were the only permanent band members (although original guitarist Denny Dias often appeared as a guest). They supplemented their instruments with the best session players in New York and Los Angeles. Their jazz rock sound, with hardly a traditional major or minor chord in sight, was recorded with the utmost care thanks to the work of producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols

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Video of the Week: Steely Dan’s ‘FM’ Lights up Empire State Building on 50th Anniversary of its FM Antenna

To mark the 50th anniversary of the installation of the master FM antenna atop the Empire State Building October 29th, light designer Marc Brickman choreographed a light show that synced with Steely Dan’s “FM (No Static at All)” and was simulcast on New York’s WCBS 101.1 (FM of course).

Video Tutorial: Donald Fagen Deconstructs Steely Dan Songs


One of the creators of some of the most sophisticated rock of the 70’s (or any other decade) discusses Steely Dan songs “Chain Lightning”, “Peg” and “Josie” in this video tutorial.

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