Tuesday, February 3, 2015

TAKE TWO: STEELY DAN


Steely Dan made a major impact on the music scene throughout the 1970's with their own unique brand of jazz-rock. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen are essentially the band while using a long succession of studio musicians to help fill out their sound.

These two musicians met while attending Bard College in New York and began working together after discovering they had very similar tastes in music, particularly jazz. After finishing school in 1969, Becker and Fagen went to the famous Brill Building in Manhattan to try and sell their songs. Kenny Vance of the pop act, Jay and The Americans took an interest. The duo recorded several demos and went on tour with the band for a short period.

Since their complex tunes didn't easily fit in to the narrow confines of popular music of the time, Becker and Fagen decided they needed to find their own way. Taking their name from a strap-on dildo in the novel, "Naked Lunch", Steely Dan was born and released their debut, "Can't Buy a Thrill" in 1972. The duo wrote the album together with Becker playing bass and Fagen on keyboards and performing most of the lead vocals (with David Palmer providing additional vocals). "Reelin' In The Years" and "Do It Again" became top-twenty pop hits and the album went gold.

Although Steely Dan initially went on tour to support their music,  Becker and Fagen were never really comfortable in the spotlight and stopped performing live in 1974 to focus on just working in the studio. Many other successful albums were made with more hits including "Rikki Don't Lose That Number", "Peg", "FM (No Static At All)", and "Deacon Blues".  After a series of legal and personal difficulties, Steely Dan came to an end in 1981. Walter Becker retreated to Hawaii for a more quite life while Donald Fagen recorded a solo album "The Nightfly" that became a million seller thanks to the hit, "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)".  In 1993, Becker produced Fagen's second album, "Kamakiriad" and actually went on tour together to promote the release.

This helped open the door for a reunion of Steely Dan and after twenty years, they released their eighth studio album, "Two Against Nature" in 2000.  The long-awaited record sold over a million copies and won four Grammy Awards including Album of The Year. Three years later, Steely Dan released "Everything Must Go". Becker and Fagen have discovered the joy of live performing late in life and gone on to tour the world extensively since their last album. Steely Dan has sold over forty million records and were inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Enjoy two of my favorites from Steely Dan:

"Peg" - Steely Dan (1977)

"Hey Nineteen" - Steely Dan (1980)

As a bonus, here are Steely Dan performing their early hit "Reelin' In The Years" on the outstanding live music program of the 1970's, "The Midnight Special":

PINK ASKS "WHAT ABOUT US?"

The last time we heard from Pink it was with her musical contribution to Disney 's 2016 " Alice in Wonderland " sequel, &...