A love/disdain for Steely Dan?

Derek

Silver Member
I'm a big fan of Steely Dan. Kinda like Polly I favor the old stuff, up to Aja (Gaucho's ok).
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Well ... here I am ... your middle-of-the-road Dan fan. Sure, they play their instruments well. Sure, they're good song writters. hmmmmm are they? Can't say I can sing any Steely Dan song all the way through. I can sing AC/DC songs all the way through. Zepp? Sure. Scorpions? Yup. Toto? You betcha. Black Sabbath? Uh-huh ... But the Dan ... I can get close on "Do it Again". Some say "close" only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.​
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Well, put me pretty close to the "love them" camp. I don't listen to them all the time, nor do I like everything, but I like a lot of it. I never cared if something was "overproduced" or too calculated or whatever. I just like what I like, I guess. I've never really understood why anybody bothered to hate a certain band or type of music anyway...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
For the most part I admire them. A few tracks strike me as great tunes, but a lot resonate as muso food. Never seen them live, so maybe I've missed out on some added grit that's needed for me to really get into their space.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Yep, they music is so cool it's cold - as the lyrics require, given that they always stand a step apart ... coolly watching life unfold, usually a bit sardonically, never sentimentally, but usually right on the button.

Well ... here I am ... your middle-of-the-road Dan fan. Sure, they play their instruments well. Sure, they're good song writters. hmmmmm are they? Can't say I can sing any Steely Dan song all the way through. I can sing AC/DC songs all the way through. Zepp? Sure. Scorpions? Yup. Toto? You betcha. Black Sabbath? Uh-huh ... But the Dan ... I can get close on "Do it Again". Some say "close" only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.​
Yeah, but Harry, the Steelies lyrics aren't exactly Hooksville ...

We'll jog with show folk on the sand
Drink kirschwasser from a shell
San Francisco show and tell
Well I should know by now
That it's just a spasm
Like a Sunday in T.J.
That it's cheap but it's not free
That I'm not what I used to be
And that love's not a game for three

Or ...

And they wandered in
From the city of St. John
Without a dime
Wearing coats that shine
Both red and green
Colors from their sunny island
From their boats of iron
They looked upon the promised land
Where surely life was sweet
On the rising tide
To New York City
Did they ride into the street


See the glory
Of the Royal Scam

They are hounded down
To the bottom of a bad town
Amid the ruins
Where they learn to fear
An angry race of fallen kings
Their dark companions
While the memory of
Their southern sky was clouded by
A savage winter
Every patron saint
Hung on the wall, shared the room
With twenty sinners


Not that I have anything against good singalong music, of course :)
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Not love but really like. But I've never known anyone who hated them.

I also think everyone probably knows a friend who behaves a lot like Deacon Blues.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
Not a big fan I guess. That being said I did want to punch something after they played at least an hour of Steely Dan prior to a Pittsburgh YES show. It bugged the crap out of me that they didn't have a mix of genres and songs.
 

Bo Eder

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.
Thanks for all the responses so far. I guess I'll keep my Steely Dan songs in my live sets!
However, not to start a fight with DED, I must point out that we were just discussing the fact that there may be ghost drummers on some of our other favorite band recordings too. If we were talking about band vibe and spontaneity, what of those situations? I've heard stories where Jim Keltner (the man who played on Josie) ghost drummed for Aerosmith. With stories like that flying around, how do we even know they didn't use ghost guitarists and bassists either?

I met a second engineer who was working at Ocean Way Studios long ago when they were doing big business, and he said they had a whole room full of 2" tape of Metallica tracking songs and he said their album is a complete edit. Those guys couldn't even get through one track. It was all razor blade edits!

So, I think the Dan is just being honest. If they're using a bunch of different musicians and producers, at least they're telling you about it. This ghost-musician-ing thing is a little disturbing. It's like we're being lied to as consumers of music. I realize that the point of the recording is to record stuff that is a perfect product (the translation gets a little skewed in the process, I'm sure) but at what cost? If there's alot of ghost-sessions happening for big production albums, is anything being cranked out by anybody spontaneous? Just a thought....
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Not love but really like. But I've never known anyone who hated them.

I also think everyone probably knows a friend who behaves a lot like Deacon Blues.
"Deacon Blues" is a great tune, probably my favorite by those two. The lyrics always got to me. "I crawl like a viper through these suburban streets." There was a time in my life when I was Deacon Blues, minus the sax and the dying behind the wheel of course.

That's how Jackson Pollock died, behind the wheel and drunk out of his mind on scotch.
 

Fur drummer

Pioneer Member
I don't love them or hate them, I like them. I have their greatest hits CD.

I'm glad he learned how to work the saxophone and plays just what he feels. If you don't like it you can call it "Deacon Blues". I'm also never going back to my old school!
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Maybe, but your meatloaf is bombass. I can attest. Also I think you're a pretty damned good drummer.
You made my meatloaf?! I'm damned honored, Average!

And thank you very much for the compliment.

About the meatloaf, I mean.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Thinking I was indifferent to Steely Dan, I had a round of them this morning (via Rhapsody where I can just stream one after another ad infinitum).

I like Peg, Do It Again, and Josie, but man, did they start to wear on me after not very long. Like a Manhattan Transfer-induced slit-my-wrist psychotic episode, I had to stop listening to them like RIGHT NOW.

So I guess that puts me in the "just a little goes a loooong way" column.
 

Average

Senior Member
You made my meatloaf?! I'm damned honored, Average!

And thank you very much for the compliment.

About the meatloaf, I mean.
The sangweeches were incredible the next day. Totally amazing, especially with a few drops of hot sauce. Take my compliments/opinions about drumming for what they're worth. I consider myself an average drummer. But I'm a very good cook. And your meatloaf is bombass.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Other than Rikki and his (or probably her??) need to retain phone numbers, I know nothing about this band. I've paid more attention to Jay's meatloaf than I ever have to SD.

Since joining DW, I see them mentioned time and time again. This thread is the prompting I need to check 'em out. Any recco's for a good starting point?
 

Aeolian

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.
Well, as the song goes: "The things you think are precious, I don't understand".

Really, I've never understood people slamming musicians who make the effort to play well and the deification of sloppyness. Some of the phoning it in that happens in smooth jazz I don't care for. But I don't think anyone ever phoned in a Dan track. Getting on a song with Donald and Walter is like getting into a major symphony. Practice, practice, practice. And then play your ass off.

But if you need a bit of looseness, go back to Ultimate Spinach.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Other than Rikki and his (or probably her??) need to retain phone numbers, I know nothing about this band. I've paid more attention to Jay's meatloaf than I ever have to SD.

Since joining DW, I see them mentioned time and time again. This thread is the prompting I need to check 'em out. Any recco's for a good starting point?
In my opinion "Aja" is their "great" record. Lots of great players on that, good arranging and the Wayne Shorter solo on the title track is very good music. Overdubbed, no doubt, but still great, and that track also has the very hip outro drumming by Steve Gadd.
 
Last edited:
Top