By the time this album was released in 1974, I already owned both the previous albums by Steely Dan. There was ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’, containing such great tracks as ‘Dirty Work’, and ‘Reelin’ In The Years’, followed by ‘Countdown To Ecstasy’, with longer tracks like the sublime ‘My Old School’. This was one of the first American bands that really caught my attention, as I was buying a lot of Soul Music at the time, as well as records from the likes of David Bowie, and Van Morrison.
When I read that they were to release a new album, I didn’t even wait to listen to it. I ordered it in advance from my local record shop, and got it the day it came out. I was convinced that it would be up to the same standard, and that I wouldn’t be disappointed. It was, and I wasn’t.
Donald Fagen’s vocals were as perfect as ever. The unusual and original songs he wrote with Walter Becker didn’t follow any genre, or accepted construction methods. And no two songs were alike, something that had attracted me to the band in the first place.
Their sound never shouted ‘West Coast’, or for that matter ‘East Coast’. It contained songs that were often poetic in execution, with lyrics that generally meant something too. Once I had heard all the tracks, I played side one again. By the end of the day, I could sing along to almost every song, and recognise them from the opening chord. Critical reception for this new release was unlimited. The music press liked it, other recording artists loved it, and the fans were overjoyed. It had nods to almost everything anyone liked; Rock, Jazz, and Blues too.
They also enjoyed a huge hit with the most popular single released from it. One of my favourite tracks ever recorded by anyone.
Steely Dan continued their successful career, releasing six more studio albums, and two live recordings. These included ‘Katy Lied’, ‘Gaucho’, and Aja’, in addition to no less than ten compilations and greatest hits releases. I bought all of the studio albums, and carried on loving everything this band produced, including the later solo albums by Donald Fagen.
They officially split up in 1981, later getting back together in 1993, and continuing to work until Walter Becker’s death, in 2017. Since then, Donald Fagen has continued to perform.