World of Slick Music – Steely Dan

World of Slick Music
Hi everyone time for another edition of World of Slick Music.
Lately i’m been written about some great and really talented ladies but now it’s time for some gentlemen. It’s duo called Steely Dan and it consists of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. These two dudes are the very definition of perfectionists i’m mean google it and the answer is Steely Dan 🙂


Picture shows the 2 gentlemen  that are Steely Dan, left Walter Becker and right Donald Fagen.
Let’s take it from the beginning in the year of 1968 when the two met at Bird College Annandale-on-Houston, New York. When Donald was passing a cafĂ© called “The Red Balloon” he heard Walter practising on his electric guitar and Donald thought Walter sounded so professional and contemporary meaning he was very impressed and thought it sounded like a black person. So what to do then well why not just step forward  and introduce yourself, “hi i’m Donald Fagen i really like your style would like to be in a band?!” That’s exactly what Donald did!


Picture shows the guys sometime in the 70:s.
It turned out they shared the same taste in music, listening to jazz and not just that they were even listening to the same jazz stations on the radio! It was meant to be that they would meat eachother and start writing songs together. They began playing in different local bands and one of those bands was called “The Bad Rock Group” later called “The Leather Canary” and it’s drummer was called Chevy Chase…yes THE Chevy Chase the comedian, see picture below!

They played mostly covers by The Rolling Stones, Moby Grape, Willie Dixon but some own compostions as well. During college they were like super geeks and never went out of their room and stayed up all night looking like ghosts – black turtlenecks and skin so white that it looked like yogurt. Absolutely no activity, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes and dope.” Fagen himself would later remember it as “probably the only time in my life that I actually had friends.” Super geeks or maybe even freaks indeed i’ll say!

Steely Dan Highlights

Eventually they moved to Brooklyn, NYC and tried make a living as musicians/songwriters. They got a job writing the music for a Richard Pryor film called “You’ve Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It Or You’ll Lose That Beat'”. Later they said it was only for the money. After a short visit in Los Angeles trying to write music for ABC Records, turned out their songs were to complex so back to NYC again. Thou they were suggested to start their own band with guitarists Denny Dias, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer, see picture below.

Since both Fagen and Becker were fans of Beat Generation literature they named the band after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama”, a strap-on dildo mentioned in the novel “The Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs. In 1972 the groups first album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” contained the hit singles “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ In the Years“.

Picture above shows how their first album looked like.
Second album failed more or less and Donald’s theory was that it was recorded hastily on tour therefor lack of quality. From here on they started to bring more session musicians to the recordings. During the tour of second album a drummer called Jeff Porcaro was playing and he later contributed a lot on their next album called “Pretzel Logic“. Another guy who toured with them and also contributed on that album was Michael McDonald whom i’ve written about before.

As you can see the picture shows the Steely Dan “Pretzel Logic” album.
Both Michael and Jeff contiuned working with Donald and Walter during the 70:s then in 1977 Jeff along with another keyboard player called David Paich, played on the “Katy Lied”  album released 1975, left to join another band who in 1977 got a major break through  world wide with a song called “Hold The Line”…yes i’m talking about Toto! Then Michael also left to become a member of The Doobie Brothers and one of their previously member was a certain Jeff “Skunk” Baxter…the music buisness is a small world for sure.

Picture shows the “Katy Lied” album.
Still in 1977 their perhaps most famous and popular album called “Aja” was released and it has some really bad cats playing and offcourse great songs. By now they stopped touring and made sure they were established enough for the fans to by their albums anyway. During the 70:s they were very productive but when the 70:s became the 80:s things changed. They released “Gaucho” see pic below, from which today’s song is taken from, in 1980.
Then nothing happend  for the next 13 years! So in 1993 Donald released a solo album called “Kamakiriad”, see pic below, nothing like strange or weird about that but one of the musicians happens to be a guy called Walter Becker…yes our Walter and not only that he also produced the album and the other musicians would later play on the first album “real/official” Steely Dan album for almost 20 years! So what do you say is, “Kamakiriad” a Steely Dan album or not?!

Between this “Steely Dan album” and the one who came in 1999 a live album was released called “Alive in America” recorded during a tour in 1994/95. On this album/tour swedish guitarist Georg “Jojje Wadenius played. He indeed confirms that they are super perfectionists and on every soundcheck they went through everything, in their eyes, went wrong on previously gig….hm they could here or notice thing no one else did that sounds like way over the top for me thou they were nice guys he said.

Bildresultat för steely dan alive in america

So in 2001 they released their latest and last(?) album “Everything Must Go” and here we can see a change of style or attitude if you will meaning they had the same guys playing on all songs!! That itself is nothing unusually or so but come on we’re talking Steely Dan here and they arenot like others! You never know with these guys now it’s been 14 years since their latest album and i don’t know if they are in the making of one or not. However they are still touring around the U.S.
Time for the slick song then and as i mentioned earlier it’s taken from the “Gaucho” album from 1980 and the song is called “Babylon Sisters”.
Enjoy your listening as always!!
Tags: #worldofslickmusic #steelydan #donaldfagen #walterbecker #chevychase #therollingstones #mobygrape #williedixon #richardpryor #dennydias #jeffskunkbaxter #jimhooder #davidpalmer #williamsburrough #jeffporcaro #michaelmcdonald #davidpaich #toto #georgwadenius

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