Steely Dan – Aja

Is this the greatest studio album ever created? Is it a rite of passage?  Why not both.  I’ll start with the latter question.  It seems there comes an age in everyone’s life when they go from, “ugggh…Steely Dan” to “Ohhhhhh. Steely Dan!”  I’ll detail my a-ha moment further on Can’t Buy a Thrill. This album is special to me for a couple of reasons.  It was the first album I played when we got the sound system hooked up at 246 (a great album to test your system’s highs and lows) and I finally had the ability to listen to my records throughout the whole house.  This was your first house as well.  Your Uncle Rene was actually over that day and we enjoyed one killer happy hour.  Of course, we have to talk about the final track, “Josie.”  While not the reason you were named Josephine, and you know how much I dislike when people call you “Josie” but the track fits you so well.  “When Josie comes home/ so bad/ She’s the best friend we ever had/ She’s the raw flame/ the live wire.”

Bridging genres.  It’s simply how music evolves.  Steely Dan was able to create a hybrid Jazz Rock genre that garnered mass appeal in a time where harder Detroit rock of the 70’s was yielding to punk rock.  I get it.  Some people think it’s “wimpy” given its competition at the time, but Steely Dan created an album that has proved to be a timeless masterpiece.   Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were reported to have brought in over 40 studio musicians to play on the album.  And, of course, Michael McDonald who sings on “Peg” and just about every other song in the late 70’s.  The highlight moment for me of the album has to be Steve Gadd’s drum solo at the end of “Aja.”  I wish they wouldn’t have faded it out, however.  While McDonald is most cited on “Peg,” I really enjoy his work on “I Got the News.” As a sucker for great harmonies, the “Broadway Duchess” verse just hits a little different.  Steely Dan’s lyrics are often dismissed but if you really listen, they mix a pretty good dose of humor and sarcasm.  To me, Steely Dan was the precursor to Daft Punk. Whaaa???  Yes, it’s there.  This is a collection must.  

“Throw down the jam till the girls say when/ Lay down the law and break it/ When Josie comes home” Forever a pistol and a live wire, this one is for you and the house you first came home to.  However, best studio of all time…that claim may get Brian Wilson out of bed.

Favorite Tracks: “Aja” “Peg” “Deacon Blues” “I Got The News” “Josie”

Pressing: 1977 Original Pressing.  ABC Records. AA-1006