A love/disdain for Steely Dan?

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Just wanted to throw this one out there, because this isn't the first place I've heard this. In fact, I get it from all around me. Some people absolutely love Steely Dan, or they absolutely hate them. And I really haven't come across a middle-of-the-road Steely Dan fan, either. You either love 'em or hate 'em.

Does anyone know what this would be caused by? I like them, some things I don't like so much, but I don't go commando and decree that they suck. Was there something they did back in the day that turned off 50% of the music listening population? I was doing my solo act the other week and did "Josie" towards the end of the gig and it was like half the room got up and danced and the other half got up and left! Very strange.

Maybe they were like the Taylor Swift of their day, and some people just hate her, while others love her. Weird. What do you guys think?
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I might be the first one, then, 'cause I like Steely Dan. Not love, not hate, just like. I've downloaded the songs I like but never bought an album. I think they're talented, but some of their songs just don't really connect with me.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I can't stand them.

You know how people complain today's music is over quantized and over auto-tuned to the point there is no feeling left?

That's how I feel about them, only they did it without computers.
The whole "we'll record each song with different studio musicians and pick and choose with performance we like best" just shines through in the total LACK of emotion in Steely Dan songs. Everything is so perfect that it leaves the songs cold.

Yeah, they have a lot of good drum tracks performed by the greats, but there is no vibe about the songs because it's been perfected to death.

Per Wiki, they used 42 different studio musicians and 11 engineers to make Gaucho. Come on, you have to be kidding me. Almost every album lists dozens of different studio musicians, which just kills any sense of band vibe.

Even in the vocals, their is a total lack of emotion in the delivery.
I don't care if Ricky loses that number of not!

It's all just so contrived.
 

PreppieNerd

Silver Member
I love Steely Dan. I am a younger guy (20) and got really immersed into classic rock in middle school.

To me Steely Dan stands out as something unique across the spectrum of music. I saw them live a few years ago, and they put on a great show, I thought.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
For my money, technically, their recordings have always been great, but I'm not really keen on their lyrics. Don't know if it's because a lot I don't understand or they just seem silly. But to hear a snare drum like it was right next to you is fantastic. They have had some great drummers on their recordings. Love no, hate no, but generally like their stuff.
 

jordanz

Senior Member
I love Steely Dan. However, it's easy to find fault with them. The lyrics are impenetrable; the recordings are heavily produced (as others have pointed out); Donald Fagan's voice is pretty bad.
 

Average

Senior Member
I'm a Steely Dan FIEND. I used to study to the Dan when I was in college and graduate school. Here are just a couple drummers who played with the Dan over the years - Gadd, Porcaro, Gordon, Hodder, Purdie, and Carlock. I've revisited the Dan as I've been transitioning from playing almost entirely jazz to almost entirely rock/blues. Listening to what those guys did has been very helpful to say the least.

Plus, go find a torrent of a live Steely Dan show. Its incredible. These guys really can play all that stuff.

Anyway I get why some people might not dig them because of the production involved etc. Its all good. Its a big world and we can all have different likes and dislikes and still be friends.

I don't really like Everything Must Go. Unfortunately they took one of the best drummers currently playing and bridled him. They've smoothed out too many rough edges in my opinion.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I don't want to know anyone that doesn't love Steely Dan!
I learned how to play by listening to their music.
I still listen to "The Dan" to this day!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Among my fave bands. I have everything up to Gaucho. After that, I lost interest. Some of their drummers have had a major (if perhaps futile haha) influence on me, especially Jim Hodder, Rick Marotta and Steve Gadd.

I think of them as a perfect band, but not in a quantised way (apologies DED). Just that they tick all the boxes ... their songwriting is a cut above ... sophisticated chord voicings, melodies and harmonies, attractive rhythms and FANTASTIC lyrics (apologies GD). The arrangements are superb. Jazz and pop for grownups who aren't always in the mood for noodling or banality ... two qualities of music that are often reviled, but things I can enjoy if I'm in the mood. I can enjoy my fave Dan songs any time, any mood.

I don't like all their songs but some of them totally hit the spot for me. Babylon Sisters is, for me, one of the most complete songs ever recorded. I love those lyrics so much ... "don't you know by now that it's just a spasm" is one of my fave lines of all time. Then add the gorgeous melodies, Purdie shuffle and killer arrangement ...

Aja is a dream. Show Biz Kids and Botthistatva (sp?) kill it. Do It Again, King of the World, Your Gold Teeth, Dr Wu, Night By Night, Rikki, Royal Scam, Don't Take Me Alive, Kid Charlemaine, Josie ... I can listen to these classics forever.

Certifiable Dan fan here ... :)
 
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KBadd

Silver Member
Let's see......Steely Dan and music go hand in hand. I don't get "The Dave Matthews Band". Any responses to that?

I understand DrumEatDrum's comment....actually I don't....apparently. I guess from 1966 to 1970 The Beatles were over produced since they never played live again?

42 musicians on one album.......so what? Did you pay for them? 11 engineers. Big deal. Who cares? The Dan are really a "duo" and not a "band" anyway. Like Hall & Oates.

Oh well, my 2 cents.
 

Average

Senior Member
Let's see......Steely Dan and music go hand in hand. I don't get "The Dave Matthews Band". Any responses to that?

I understand DrumEatDrum's comment....actually I don't....apparently. I guess from 1966 to 1970 The Beatles were over produced since they never played live again?

42 musicians on one album.......so what? Did you pay for them? 11 engineers. Big deal. Who cares? The Dan are really a "duo" and not a "band" anyway. Like Hall & Oates.

Oh well, my 2 cents.
Steely Dan plays the HELL out of live show. Just do a torrent search and you'll find loads. Seriously the first time I heard a live Dan show I was blown away. Of course back then I was used to hearing Van Halen play awesome on the album and then totally stink it up on stage. Its like someone walked onto the stage and opened a whole gunny sack of skunks.

The Dave Matthews band is pretty darned good in my book. The drumming is nothing short of superb, let alone everything else going on. Just ask your guitarist sometime about Dave. Everyone I've talked to says Dave is a beast.

Something else about the Dan. They had top 40 hits that people still love today. You see very very very few bands able to cover them. Maybe thats part of the bashing?

They open up a Steely Dan music book and turn to Kid Charlemagne and see this:

Am_________________________G6_____________________F6/9
Just by chance you cross the dia - mond with the pearl, _ you turned it on _ the world, _

Bb13
thats when you turned_ the world a round _

And they say "WTF!??" And then instead of taking the time to learn about why there is a Bb13 chord there they sit around and mope all day and hate on the Dan. Lol.
 

KBadd

Silver Member
Average, I GET your post!! The DMB's music is what I don't get NOT the MUSICIANS!

I get them!!! Nice post!
 

Average

Senior Member
Average, I GET your post!! The DMB's music is what I don't get NOT the MUSICIANS!

I get them!!! Nice post!
I didn't get DMB at first either. This is gonna sound really funny but here goes. When I was living in Chicago going to grad school he parked his bus on one of the bridges over the chicago river. These bridges have metal grates for the roadway because they have to be lighter to raise and lower them. So anyway, he parks his bus there and then dumps the crapper through the bridge and into the river. It soaked all the people on a tour boat going under the bridge. Knowing the popularity of the DMB at the time with all manor of groupies and weirdos, I can only half imagine what was in the crapper at the time. So after he did that I said to myself - this Dave Matthews character at the very least has a sense of humor. Maybe I'll take a serious listen to some of his music.
 

Pachikara-Tharakan

Silver Member
I love all of their 70's albums, especially when they were a real band with Jim Hodder on vocal/drums, Dennis Dias, Jeff Baxter etc. and Dave Palmer on lead vocal on some songs.. "cant buy a thrill" and on.. but their latest Two Against Nature album... is the one totally dissappointing to me... even tho the songs are good... drum sounds too tinny!


Haitian Divorce---- what a song!!
 

brady

Platinum Member
I guess I'm one of the few that doesn't have a strong opinion either way about Stelly Dan.

I'm 36, so you could say I sort of grew up with them. They were always on the radio around the house.

I don't understand what it is about them that makes people go nuts over them. Likewise, I don't know what there is to hate either. To me, they are just one of many cool 'classic rock' bands that are enjoyable to hear on the radio every once in a while.
 

Florian

Gold Member
I love Steely Dan. However, it's easy to find fault with them. The lyrics are impenetrable; the recordings are heavily produced (as others have pointed out); Donald Fagan's voice is pretty bad.
+1 - huge fan, and have seen them numerous times in concert....however, there is no soul to what they play. Seeing as they came from the "tv theme music" background, I suppose studios wanted that emotionless sound.

BTW, props to a band that names themselves after a dildo!


F
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I've grown up on Dan, so I'm biased but I think any great music has strong reactions.

Middle of the road stuff is wallpaper.mostly.

...
 

con struct

Platinum Member
While I've admired some of their work, I've always been lukewarm on those two guys. Their stuff, I don't know, it just sounds to me like very calculated white boy college student music. There's a really anal quality about it all.

They sure as hell aren't funky.

I do think that "Aja" is a very good piece of music, but there's no sweat or funk in it if you see what mean. I guess that's what they're all about though. Intellectual white boy music. And they're very good at that, you must admit.

But I've never seen them play live. Maybe that's different.
 

0neyellowdrum

Senior Member
There are 2 ( yes 2!) Steely Dan cover bands that I know of here in the part of No. Calif. where I live. They are: Steelin Dan and Steely Scam. Both bands play often and draw crowds. They are especially popular on the winery circuit. The members are all very good musicians.
As to like or hate... I like Steely Dan very much as do most of my friends.
They could duplicate live what they created in the studio. Something I hold in hi regard.
My philosophy about song writing is this.... you can be a very good musician but this does not make you a good song writer. They are completely different crafts. The Dan are extremely good musicians and songwriters. IMHO
Their use of instruments, their technique, their use of space and balance and their choice of musicians is brilliant. Their attention to sound is phenominal.
 
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