Saturday, 21 April 2018

Steely Dan...... better late than never......

I bought my first Steely Dan album in 1975. A friend at the time, whose musical taste I trusted, told me about it, said it was being released two days later, and unreservedly recommended it. So based on his recommendation, having never even heard of Steely Dan, I bought the album two days later (a Saturday as I recall), went home, and gave it a spin, as we said in those days.

The album was Katy Lied, and the opening track, Black Friday, a rocker, didn't exactly bowl me over. The second track, however, entitled  Bad Sneakers, with its jazz flavour and unusual lyric, was quite unlike anything I had ever heard before in a pop song. I had absolutely no idea what the song was about, and I still don't, which didn't bother me one little bit. But it struck a cord with me, as did the next track, Rose Darling, with a more accessible lyric about sexual infidelity, or at least the intention of such.

The high point of the album, however, was the track Doctor Wu, with an alto sax solo by Phil Woods. Woods' was a highly accomplished jazz musician, and among his many achievements was a sublime solo on Spoonful, featured on the Gil Evans album of 1964: The Individualism of Gil Evans.

I bought every previous and subsequent album by Steely Dan. Of particular mention is the 1980 release Gaucho, with vocalist Donald Fagen in fine voice, especially on the opening track Babylon Sisters.  

Also on Gaucho is the track Time out of Mind. 'Time out o' mind' is a colloqual expression referring to a time immemorial, and dates from around the middle of the sixteenth century. It was even used by Shakespeare in two of his plays:

Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by a joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies coachmakers...
- Romeo and Juliet

Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind....
- Measure for Measure

Finally, this blog has been on the road for over 6 years, and in all that time it has sadly been lacking a post on Steely Dan, an oversight which we are now correcting. Better late than never.....

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