Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Album Reviews
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-24-2010, 06:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default

"Only A Fool Would Say That" (2:57)
I really like this song. It's very Latin in influence, and the vocal rhythm is fantastic. This is basically one big hook turned into a song, which is why it's under 3 minutes in length; essentially, perfect. Because of this, there's not much to talk about! It's a cool little ditty but there's not a lot to dissect; it's straightforward, but it works and I love it. This is one of those songs that once you hear you'll never get it out of your head. It's an ear worm. Usually they're blasted things, but this is a legitimately good song and you'll never mind.

There's a cool Skunk solo in this one; the guitar work is neat all the way through and the solo's no exception. Almost a redemption for "Midnight Cruiser"'s mediocrity.

Side Two
"Reelin' in the Years" (4:37)

Despite not charting as high as "Do It Again" it's probably their most well-known song, except maybe "Rikki" (more on that later). Elliot Randall plays guitar, and the solos are all famous and such and they're neat things but it's not very Dan-like and, well, not really loved by even the band itself: Fa‎gen called the song "Dumb, but effective," which is basically a perfect summary; it's a song you can listen to when you feel like it and the guitar drives everyone wild but it's a pretty dull song. Becker said "It's no fun," which is also understandable considering the only cool thing about it is the guitar, which only makes it as good as the thousands of other songs that have nothing but 6.5-out-of-10 guitar solos.

The vocals are rhythmically interesting but you can't break anything down. Listen for the guitar solos.

"Fire in the Hole" (3:28)
This is another great one, featuring a steel guitar by Skunk. An urgent piano opens, then combines with the drums and palys even more dangerously. Then the stumbling bass line kicks in and Fa‎gen starts sneering those vocals out, oh boy. People calling him lazy? He realizes they're all crazy. SERVE, DON'T SPEAK. I'm just another freak. Brilliant stuff going on.

Then there's fire in the hole, but nothing left to burn. I suppose one could easily equate this with a mental breakdown, especially with the way Fa‎gen sings and the way the instruments play: it's all very urgent and strange. They don't blend together perfectly like most of the other songs but they still fit. It's all very odd, and this is what makes them geniuses: they can write songs like this and make them like this and it's wonderful. His life is boiling over, it's happened once before, why won't anyone open up the door? Fire in the hole, baby. Fire in the hole.

The guitar is great here. It's part of the above, the way it doesn't always blend? The drums and bass sort of do their own things while still fitting together, the piano plays it's own stuff and the guitar chips in occasionally until a tremendous section where it's still being layered under the piano and the other instruments, until Fa‎gen finishes another sentence and then plays a kickin' solo into the outro. This is easily one of the best songs on the record. It's really, really good. There's even a second piano!

"Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)" (4:21)
Oh, bloody hell, another Palmer song. Nice little guitar-led opening by Baxter here. But you hear the piano and keyboard and you know what's coming.

He sounds different now, not much but a bit, but it's not enough to make the song not suffer the same fate as "Dirty Work": it gets old. It's abrasively smooth. Interesting guitar but the bass, drums and piano is all pretty dull. The backing female vocals - so prevalent on later Dan work - just makes the song more annoying, as does the eventual country-esque tone of the guitar which somehow goes from interesting to muck without you realizing. It's more dread-inducing than "Dirty Work", but it's still worth maybe a few listens. It drags on too long. The repeated chants of "Brooklyn owes the charmer under me" is pretty nice but it sounds like a love song and IT'S NOT. It's about wheelin' and dealin' and cards and golf and movie stars. It's a nice song and it's got a solid beginning and end but a terrifying middle.


"Change of the Guard" (3:39)
Some sweet combination going on here. Guitar and bass solidify into a bangin' section while the drums carry on aided by some background chords and a neat little vocal by Fa‎gen. All about worlds changing guards and such. Cowboys and neighbors. All that. As usual with the rest of Side Two Skunk Baxter plays the lead here. It's an interesting song but it's pretty simple. There's a cool organ-vocal section that ties in with a very understated guitar solo and it fits really, really well. Then the guitar does it's own thing and Baxter demonstrates why he's really good at twanging strings and there's even a power chord in there somewhere. Hodder does probably his best drum work on the record here. A very solid tune - at times, completely separate from what Dan does both on the record and in the future, but at others it's a sign of things to come.

It's a neat tune and probably the rockiest on the album, but it's also probably the simplest (except possibly "Only a Fool Would Say That"). It sounds a lot like a tune donated to charity for something, almost like "We Are the World". Not sure why. Maybe it's Fa‎gen's call-out about how if you live here, you're feeling that guard change.

"Turn That Heartbeat Over Again" (4:58)
It's got a solitary opening, and there's a very strange sequence here. There's a piano, Fa‎gen's vocals on the right, more piano and then Fa‎gen's vocals on the left, except you don't realize what's happening until you hear it from both sides. It's almost like they channeled their inner Yes here or something. So narrator buys a gun, complains about the food, talks about loving family until they run for cover then talks about Michael and Jesus and how he's not to blame, he has a reputation! So it's got some themes of maybe a good man gone bad or a decent guy who's done something wrong. It's all very odd, especially those instruments. There's more weird prog-like vocal effects with a piano that happens.

The summary of this song is elusive. It's obscure. It dodges the mind and it doges the fingers. It's a good tune but to clarify it would require a multi-million dollar research grant and a team of highly trained professionals. There's a cool solo here that I think is courtesy of Skunk (how did he get that name..?)

The song opens solemnly and it ends solemnly. It's very long. "Do It Again" moves quickly, this paces along, as if out for a nice summer walk when there's a nice breeze and there's nothing unpleasant going on.

So, a very good opening record from the folks in Steely Dan. There's some weak tunes and weak sections of decent tunes and some very, VERY good tunes as well! I suggest a listen, but if you don't like it, don't write Dan off: like many bands, their debut is not an accurate representation of what they are and what they can be.

Then again, with this band, maybe nothing is an accurate representation of what they're like.
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2010, 04:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
why bother?
 
Bulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826
Default

Great review there, even if I don't quite agree with it word-for-word (Brooklyn one of my favourites songs!). Whenever I do listen to it though, however awesome it may be, I never get through the whole thing a lot rather than just listen to my favourites off of it. It's an album worth having for the guitar solo in Change Of the Guard alone though.
Bulldog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2010, 10:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
Veritas vos liberabit
 
Jedey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Musicapolis
Posts: 477
Default

Great review! I thought this may interest you from the Steely Dan website:

"Since Fagen was uncomfortable as the lead singer, they also decided to sign up vocalist David Palmer as the front man. Since Palmer's vocal style didn't convey the attitude that Becker and Fagen wanted for most of the songs, and they also needed to finish the album, Donald reluctantly sang lead vocals on all but three songs on their debut album, which they named "Can't Buy A Thrill.""

Luckily Donald Fagen found the confidence in his singing voice and David Palmer left the group.
__________________
My Tunes
Jedey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2010, 10:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
storymilo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,826
Default

I'm looking forward to reading more of this thread. I have a couple of albums by them, and while it may be "dad music" it's some really fun stuff to listen to. Nice job
storymilo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2010, 06:07 AM   #15 (permalink)
Groupie
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 32
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jedey View Post
Luckily Donald ***en found the confidence in his singing voice and David Palmer left the group.
It is rather amazing that David Palmer was involved with Steely Dan on any level but especially if you see footage of the band playing live. If ever anyone was ill suited for a group it was David Palmer with Steely Dan. Having said that 'Brooklyn' is one of the better tracks on the album for me.

Overall though Can't Buy A Thrill is one of my least favourite Dan albums. As the reviewer touched upon it seems all rather disparate with each member pulling in their own direction, no doubt the reason Becker and ***an soon trimmed the personnel down. The strange duos personality really isn't on this record, it could have been anyone.

The only real reason it stands out is the quality of the guitar solos. Randell, Baxter and Dias all produce some great runs on the fret board.
__________________
Music and Reviews by Aswad Vogelenzang. DOWNLOAD THE NEW JAN - MAR 2010 MIX AT http://unnaturalconducts.wordpress.com/
Aswad Vogelenzang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2010, 03:10 PM   #16 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aswad Vogelenzang View Post
Overall though Can't Buy A Thrill is one of my least favourite Dan albums. As the reviewer touched upon it seems all rather disparate with each member pulling in their own direction, no doubt the reason Becker and ***an soon trimmed the personnel down. The strange duos personality really isn't on this record, it could have been anyone.

The only real reason it stands out is the quality of the guitar solos. Randell, Baxter and Dias all produce some great runs on the fret board.
Pretty much a "tl;dr" version of the review. It's schizophrenic (****, I swear to Clean Willie I wanted to say that IN THE REVIEW but then forgot about it) but there's great guitar work on nearly every song.
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2010, 05:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default

A review is coming your way shortly. In the meantime, this was posted yesterday on the awesome Steely Dan fansite Dandom Digest. Definitely relevant to what Aswad's said a couple of times here on Pleasing Sound Discussion.

It's a very long winded post but it's right here on the front page posted by a guy named hoops, who's a sharp guy. Here's the "relevant" excerpt:
Quote:
So initially, there was something like 80% Deadheads at what we now call the Dandom Digest. Then again, I encounter many who can't stand the the Grateful Dead sound when Steely Dan's studio sound is so relatively pristine.

So when SteelyDan.com came on line in 1996, it was right after Jerry Garcia died and when, at least for me a few others, the Grateful Dead scene stopped being so magical. Given the fact that there were so many Deadheads in the Danfan community, it was clearly a ripe topic for D + W to have fun with.

A few Dangents in this part of community: Walter and Donald really seemed to like the idea that everyone got up and danced at GD shows and they liked the idea of the same at SD shows. I certainly would dance like a fool at the mid 90s SD shows. I remember for the Alpine Valley (East Troy, WI) show in 1996, I printed maybe 200 or more of the Dead-to-Dan conversion page and distributed them on windshields at the 1996 Furthur Festival shows. The Furthur Fest was a post-Grateful Dead revue featuring other members of the Grateful Dead with their own side projects. The Furthur Fest wasn't nearly as satisfying as the Grateful Dead shows. I think the lime green flyers handed out also encouraged Grateful Dead fans to come to the new Steely Dan concert scene and dance. And then the following week, sure enough, I do remember some Deadhead types there, some dancing and even a pair of "spinners" at the stage. Security came and made them sit down, although from the stage, Walter asked security to "let them stay." In the end, security only allowed 79-year-old Maggi McCoy go to come up front, her chin resting on her arms folded on the edge of the stage, practically at Donald's feet. (That's how she liked to describe it in later accounts.)

So in closing, Danfans seems to be very polarized in terms if they are also Deadheads or not, just like those who dance and don't dance at shows also tend to be two very defined groups. But it also seems quite likely that Donald and Walter like the Grateful Dead fans and dancing at shows.
The conversion page he mentions:
Conversion Chart

The whole Steely Dan network thing is like TVTropes for Dan fans. It's internet heroin.
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2010, 06:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default



Countdown to Ecstasy
1973
Best Album


Do not be alarmed that Steely Dan "peaked early", because that's not true. See, Steely Dan never peaked. They're about as consistent as the sunrise, so they never experienced a huge drop in quality or have a "Best String of Albums", as so many artists before them do. That string is 1972-1980, the original run, and then 2000-2003, covering the two albums released this century. Not surprising: Fa‎gen and Becker were perfectionists, recording individual parts thousands of times until they got exactly the take they wanted, always surrounded by immense talent. They made sure of that.

However, taking "consistent" in this case to ever mean "stylistically consistent" is about as grave a mistake as one could ever make. Steely Dan were constantly evolving, album-to-album, changing sounds. Sure, the framework remained the same, but what shined through each time was different.

Here on Countdown to Ecstasy they're still a band, but only in the loosest form of the word. There's session bassists, guitarists, vocalists and saxophonists. While on the last album background vocals were nearly all done by Hodder, Baxter, Dias, Palmer and Becker, it's now handled by almost entirely the session singers. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long after this album's release Becker and Fa‎gen took control of the band.

And that ties into the actual music here perfectly: Becker and Fa‎gen‎ already had creative control. This album's possibly the least schizophrenic they ever made: it's similar in stylistic qualities. Very jazzy, very bluesy, very interesting. So letting the friends handle not only the songwriting (which they did on the debut) but also the personnel (something most definitely not done on Can't Buy a Thrill) was a tremendous decision. But I advise against expecting anything musically uniform: there's still odd stuff going on, it's just that there's a common thread running through them.

Side One
"Bodhisattva" (5:20)

So remember how on Can't Buy a Thrill it sometimes sounded like Steely Dan were showing off, letting everyone know who they were and how much talent they had? That's what this is, except under a Becker and Fa‎gen administration. The song is five-and-a-half minutes long, and 300 of those seconds are spent on instrumental display. It's like they all went into a room individually and just did as impressive a thing as they could with their instruments.

The lyrics are the easiest to tackle here. Unlike most of the discography they're fairly simple and consist of precisely 28 words that are heavily repeated. Don't think that means you can't analyze them, however: something simple can still be deep. A Bodhisattva is basically a high elder in Buddhism: is the song literal, a man selling away his life to become a Buddhist? Or is it a metaphor of some sort - perhaps someone pledging their full attention to a partner? I've heard a theory that Becker and Fa‎gen were professing some sort of interest in Asian culture, or their own beliefs; all speculation, but that's what makes Steely Dan's lyrical content so fun. And it speaks about the quality of the lyrics and the skill of Becker and Fa‎gen to write that such a "simple" song can entertain so many ideas and theories, sparking so much discussion and debate: it's like jumping into the kiddie pool and sinking 50 feet.

The guitars are the best piece here. The riffs are simple yet skillful, still acting as opportunities to show dexterity on the fretboard. They skip along to the riff, bounding along, carrying the song with them. There's a great pluck section each time Fa‎gen starts chatting about sparkling Japans and it really reminds me of the Gregory-Partridge guitar combo that is of heavy focus in XTC.

The solos are both tremendous; the first one features an awesome call back section with the keyboard that's indescribably brilliant. It's the highlight of the song for Fa‎gen's keyboards, which are really understated on this song: they don't play the whole time and when they do it's mostly something attention grabbing but plain. Here, though, Fa‎gen really showcases his chops.

The second solo features the most prominent drumming in the song. The whole time it's been there, playing an excellent rhythm that's heavily syncopated, but on the closing solo (which is just as brilliant as the first) it gets the spotlight for a little while. The drums also feature in the intro, playing a cool little groove for the guitars to dance over.

The bass is pretty ordinary but it fits tremendously well. For the most part it mimics the guitar, sticking to the verse riff during the solos. It deviates a few times, but overall it just does its job.

It should be a testament to the guitar lines of this song that every time I wanted to mention another one of the instruments, the guitars were the focal point of the paragraph. This is the kind of stuff Becker and Fa‎gen do: they molded this song around some excellent guitar work and it's perfect.

"Razor Boy" (3:11)
One of the two songs on the album under 5 minutes and decidedly mellow in style. Fa‎gen sort of channels Palmer here: Palmer actually does some backup vocals on this album but otherwise doesn't play a role. Fa‎gen's definitely doing his best Palmer impression, though. That much is obvious. The lyrics are much more sarcastic in tone, though, much in line with Steely Dan's writing beyond these first couple of albums. The lyrics here are interesting. Fa‎gen isn't sneering and while he's sarcastic in meaning he's not sarcastic in tone. It's taunting, almost. H'e smooth like Palmer but nasty.

I haven't read too many viewpoints on the lyrical meaning to this song. My personal analyzation is that it has to do with some sort of fight over the company a woman keeps, but my personal opinion on my personal analyzation is that I'm full of shi‎t and way off the mark.

The drums get first mention because they channel the upcoming "Your Gold Teeth" which is one of the best songs on the album. You can here some quiet little snare taps mixed with some determined-yet-understated tom hits and some cymbal usage. It provides a groove that isn't really there, isn't really a part of the song, but nothing bad.

The keyboards are great. They mesh very well with the percussion in the places where they become the center of attention, and otherwise play a great line. The piano throughout the song is great, and there's a nifty solo for the keyboards in here just before the guitars start. Then there's a lead-in to the chorus again, the same sound as the previous solo (and just as cool) and there's also some synth usage which is an indication of what's to come on the album's closer "King of the World", another great song.

The guitars come in about 3/4s of the way through and do their little part. There's a very echoey, almost aquatic quality about the solo they play. It's ethereal and it's wonderful. It's not eye popping, but it shouldn't be. It should be just the way it is, peaceful and magical...just like the rest of the song.

The bass here plays the same basic part essentially the entire time. It fits nicely, just like the part on "Bodhisattva". It's peaceful and quiet but it could've been much more. Just like the song: it has a lot of potential but it only maximizes on some of it. It's the oddest sounding thing on the album, certainly: doesn't fit much of the mood at all. Has a little of bit of "Your Gold Teeth" and "King of the World" taken to odd extremes.

"The Boston Rag" (5:41)
The song opens in a bit of a melancholy tone. The guitar and keyboard blend here perfectly, and then there's some screechy little notes played to lead into the verse, which is pretty quiet and features an acoustic guitar: it's almost like a prog song here.

I love the guitar on this song. The acoustic is perfect and fits tremendously with the vocals and a little keyboard that kicks in as well. It also contributes to a kick ass chorus with some power chords tossed in - it shouldn't fit, but it does. There's an excellent guitar solo that starts very quietly, set only to a cymbal tap with a keyboard. Then it segues straight into the rockiets guitar solo Steely Dan ever did, which pretty much kicks the listener in the teeth, aided by some awesome drumming. Then all the instruments start up again and Fa‎gen sings some more about rags, drags and bringing it back.

The bass is, once again, hanging around in the background. Becker really doesn't want the spotlight here. In later Steely Dan his notes shine through every now-and-then, but here he just stays behind everything all of the time. It just blends in with all of the other instruments and doesn't try to do anything amazing.

I mentioned the keyboards earlier and they definitely hit the mark on this song, from the excellent intro to the downright five star chorus. They contribute to those power chords I mentioned (well they're sort of power chords) and it just works. It's brilliant, really. They also have some showtime during the later verses and they're pretty cool there as well.

The lyrics here are melancholy yet rebellious, and they're reminiscent of something. I've seen plenty of drugs and crime and all that, but I don't know if Steely Dan were playing on those themes this early on: yes, they're heavy on that stuff later, but we're talking about right now. I'm with those who think it's about partying during earlier times, and now everything's all down because everyone is old or gone and the party's ended. Seems much more like something Steely Dan would talk about during this time period.

Overall it's a great song, though not as great as the ones forthcoming.
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here

Last edited by OctaneHugo; 05-08-2010 at 06:48 AM.
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2010, 06:43 AM   #19 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default

"Your Gold Teeth" (7:02)
What a song. Man, what a song. Everything here is top notch. The bass shines through for the first time on the album (though in a light way), the vocals are fuc‎cking brilliant (sound and lyrics alike), the keyboards are rocking, the guitar is tremendous and the percussion is A+ work.

So, the drums. Definitely foreshadowed in "Razor Boy". There's the same kind of cymbal-tom combination going on, along with what sounds like some bongos going down. It's a tremendous beat and really catches the ear on sheer impressiveness: it's a fairly subtle line, much like everything in the song. It's good enough that you notice it anyway. Not only is it tremendous in sound and style, but it fits the song just perfectly. There can be no better percussion part for "Your Gold Teeth" than what is already here.

The keyboards play in to the drums quite a bit. They play the intro together and there's a highly understated rhythm that's played during the verses and segments without vocals. Individually there's some organ going down, particularly during the chorus (the organs are a great part the whole song, lots of quiet stuff going on that you really need to listen for to experience), and a solo that's really, really good. Some little runs and chords during this part, and the drums do some nice stuff, here too..and then it segues into a guitar solo.

The solo is great. It keeps with the rest of the song which is very soft and aimless while still sounding like a real guitar. Other than that there's some beautiful little chords that match up with the keyboard that introduce each verse and that is definitely top-notch work. It's so simple but so great. It combines with everything else and forms a complex, layered song that is actually not very difficult to break down, but all put together has a bunch of gears churning together.

Returning to the keyboards for a brief second, they play a great outro where the drums factor in prominently yet again. Lots of heavy tom rolls here along with those maybe-bongos going nuts.

The bass, as mentioned earlier, finally comes into play. It plays it's own line, sort of a combination of the keyboard-guitar combo I mentioned earlier and some little runs mixed in. It's got almost a stutter-step quality at times, sort of shuffling along while everything else is pretty straight. It's remarkable only at times, but it's definitely the start of something great and it's a welcome relief to finally here a real bass line on the album. During the solos it plays some nice runs that sort of go along with what's taking place center stage, but stand out enough for the listener to realize it.

The vocals are great: Fa‎gen sounds awesome here. He's really smooth and out there and his voice just fits the instruments perfectly. The keyboards and vocals blend VERY well, obviously something that was kept in mind when the song was written.

But what's the song about? There's killing floors, Cathy Berberian and roving eyes. What's it all mean? This song is definitely a fun one to analyze and one of the most obscurely composed songs of the entire Steely Dan catalogue, and certainly one of the most complex (not only lyrically but musically as well). It's an amazing piece of work.

The common theme in the lyrics seems to be one of suavely avoiding some sort of event, possibly financial in nature but most definitely life changing and one of high importance and risk, a grave matter: taking a risk and gambling everything on a certain plan to work out, a specific event to happen. Foolish, really; even Cathy Berberian knows there's one roulade she can't sing. In the end, though, everything works out, so long as the sarcastic, bitter narrator is the man being cheered on.

Side Two
"Show Biz Kids" (5:25)

The lead single from the album and one that failed to make much noise on the charts (it peaked at 61). It's an extraordinary song, but when you tell rich Hollywood kids to go fu‎ck themselves your song is probably going to get stonewalled.

This the most bitter, sarcastic song on the album, though. I love the background vocals (which begin after a brilliant bluesy slide guitar intro and support it as it continues playing): see, they're singing "You're going to lost wages", which is the way old Lenny Bruce used to do it. And it's brilliant. It's such excellent singing; the smooth, underlying guy grooving along as the female leads do their part.

Then Fa‎gen cuts in with what would be the beginning of his legendary sneer: "While the poor people sleepin' with the shaaade on the light". Then there's mention of El Supremo and the Washington Zoo.

The guitar here is just astounding. Rick Derringer's playing slide guitar and he's extroadinary. Every second of it is tremendous and I love it all. The miniature solos he does during the period before the verses, the major solos, the intro - all of it's great. And the plucking during the verses (which is followed by some downright sicknasty xylophone) fits great.

So the solo. It's amazing. It takes a small break for the infamous "Show business kids makin' movies of themselves and they don't give a fu‎ck about anybody else," line and then continues on during a chaotic outro consisting of a woman screaming "Donald" and a bunch of indiscernible noises. It's all kinds of bluesy sliding and plucking and brilliant sound.

The bass here goes back to your standard Becker fare, very boring and underdeveloped. Develop some confidence already you stubborn bastard.

The drums are really driving. It's a basic beat, but it lets the guitar show off and that's what works. There's a brilliant section where some instrument comes in and starts playing along with the drums. It all adds up to an excellent song.

"My Old School" (5:47)
Probably the most famous song off of the album, though that's not saying much (it charted at 63).

This is one of the few songs where the lyrical meaning is not only obvious but openly discussed by Dan themselves (well, Fa‎gen, at least. I think Becker was busy farming pineapples or something). It has to deal with a 1968 sheriff's raid on the college Fa‎gen and Becker went to, Bard. The singing is pretty great: it's more smooth stuff from Fa‎gen and there's some great backing stuff going on.

Those combine with a great horn section that ups the ante quite a bit for the sound here. The line is recognizable and pretty much takes lead of the song's rhythym section, letting the guitars do their thing unless it's the solo in the middle (which is brilliant). There's saxophones, trumpets, tubas, clarinets...it's amazing. The song could've been layered on this part alone.

The keyboards play a pretty large role with the horns as well. There's some great piano work during the verses, and then during the chorus they blend together to form a delightful mix that plays into the guitar.

Tremendous guitar work, by the way. There's some eye-popping solos combined with a catchy line during the verses, and some more show-offy intermittent stuff. It's still bluesy-jazz and it absolutely fits with the overall tone of the song.

This is another song where you can actually hear the bass doing some cool stuff. It's all alone out there doing it's own stuff and it fits right in with everything else, and helps out the drums quite a bit.

The percussion is downright amazing here. There's lots of rolls and jazz stuff going on and there's even a cowbell. Just like a certain earlier tune, it's a very layered song, except now it's not just simple stuff stacked up to present an almost falsely complicated song - it's some great instrumentation from about 40 different instruments and a fantastic vocals section all wrapped up into one marvelous tune.

"Pearl of the Quarter" (3:50)
Ah, a sad memorandum of a lost love. Well, physical love. That "pearl" of the "Quarter" is a French prostitute in New Orleans. It's a bit transparent in meaning but on first listen it definitely doesn't sound like it, especially because this was before Steely Dan started delving into those darker, more sarcastic themes. Doesn't mean they can't make great music, though.

Everything here almost combines into one. It's like trying to separate peanut butter from jelly in a sandwich. The percussion is pretty nice. It's simple and quiet but it fits the overall tone and is pretty meticulous in style. It seems almost careful, too careful, much like the rest of the song.

The guitar almost has a country tone to it. Sometimes. It's odd. It's a bit nerve racking, the guitar part, which is odd considering every other song on the album has some really cool guitar work going on. This is the weakest song here. It plays a neat little solo where it does some cool stuff with the piano.

The piano in this song is pretty good. It's the best part, probably, unless you're one for terribly simple bass lines. So the keyboards here, they fit, very carefully played. Much like the percussion.

I mentioned the bass. It doesn't stand out much, just like everything else. It follows along to the piano which is following the drums which is following the vocals, which are pretty good but nothing to brag about.

So it's a bit dull and sickening, but it's not a bad song. Just average, and on a collection where everything else is top of it's class it's forgettable.
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2010, 06:44 AM   #20 (permalink)
Goes back & does it again
 
OctaneHugo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: philadelphia
Posts: 806
Default

"King of the World" (5:03)
This song is incredible.

The guitars, drums and synth combine to create something absolutely magical. Words cannot do this part justice. They play a great opening and then go into the verse. It's an echoey guitar line that's indescribably brilliant, and the drums play a very soft but very extraordinary part that uses snare and cymbal to excellent advantage. The synth is on this whole time and during the chorus and it fits right in the middle of it all.

There's a sort-of guitar solo during the second verse, and then after the chorus here the synthesizers get a solo and it's orgasmically brilliant. It'll be stuck in your head for days. That segues right into some awesome synth-soaked guitars with some keyboards going on in the background, and then Fa‎gen and his awesome vocals.

The vocals are great. They're very out there and smooth and it's something that just sticks with you. It's ridiculously catchy. Takin' things the eeeeasy way. Lyrically I love the theory that it's apocalyptic in theme, about how there's a survivor who's broadcasting news of the area he's in and he's just trying to live and find someone else to live with.

There's more synth solo after some more time and here's where the bass and the drums pick it. The bass has been there the whole time but during the outro it's the most noticeable it's been all song and it's a great line. Then the guitars resume their solo and sounds almost "Siberian Khatru"-like.

So the drums rely on an amazing mix of snare, bass drum and some soft little cymbal hits and it's all great. It's jazzy, and it's a work of genius.

The guitars are brilliant all the way through, from a quiet-to-loud echo to some wah-wah parts that sound like they've definitely been synthed up a bit, and then the solos are great. There's some little plucking stuff going on during the chorus and if you manage to latch on you'll never want it to stop.

The bass, if you can notice it before the ending, are actually really well-done and are definitely played by a confident Becker, finally.

The keyboards and synth might be better than the guitars, but it really depends on the weather. Overall the line is brilliant.

The vocals are awesome as well, really fits with everything else with no question of it's excellence or validity here.

This song is really something that cannot be put into words; as great as bits like "Show Biz Kids" or "Your Gold Teeth" are, this is better. This is 10 times better. This is one of the reasons why Countdown to Ecstasy is so great: it keeps one-upping itself. It just keeps topping it's previous output, even when it seems like it's impossible to do so. This is why Steely Dan is so brilliant: they consistently top their previous output song-to-song.

Final Ranking
1. "King of the World"
2. "Your Gold Teeth"
3. "Show Biz Kids"
4. "My Old School"
5. "Bodhisattva"
6. "The Boston Rag"
7. "Razor Boy"
8. "Pearl of the Quarter"
__________________

If Any Major Dude Has Yet To Tell You, Click Here
OctaneHugo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.