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Steely Dan

Most rock & roll bands are a tightly wound unit that developed their music through years of playing in garages and clubs around their hometown. Steely Dan never subscribed to that aesthetic. As the vehicle for the songwriting of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan defied all rock & roll conventions. Becker and Fagen never truly enjoyed rock -- with their ironic humor and cryptic lyrics, their eclectic body of work shows some debt to Bob Dylan -- preferring jazz, traditional pop, blues, and R&B. Steely Dan created a sophisticated, distinctive sound with accessible melodic hooks, complex harmonies and time signatures, and a devotion to the recording studio. With producer Gary Katz, Becker and Fagen gradually changed Steely Dan from a performing band to a studio project, hiring professional musicians to record their compositions. Though the band didn't perform live after 1974, Steely Dan's popularity continued to grow throughout the decade, as their albums became critical favorites and their singles became staples of AOR and pop radio stations. Even after the group disbanded in the early '80s, their records retained a cult following, as proven by the massive success of their unlikely return to the stage in the early '90s.

Walter Becker (bass) and Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards) were the core members of Steely Dan throughout its variety of incarnations. The two met at Bard College in New York in 1967 and began playing in bands together shortly afterward. The duo played in a number of groups -- including the Bad Rock Group, which featured future comedic actor Chevy Chase on drums -- which ranged from jazz to progressive rock. Eventually, Becker and Fagen began composing songs together, hoping to become professional songwriters in the tradition of the Brill Building. In 1970, the pair joined Jay & the Americans' backing band, performing under pseudonyms; Becker chose Gustav Mahler, while Fagen used Tristan Fabriani. They stayed with Jay & the Americans until halfway through 1971, when they recorded the soundtrack for the low-budget film You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It, which was produced by the Americans' Kenny Vance. Following the recording of the soundtrack, Becker and Fagen attempted to start a band with Denny Dias, but the venture was unsuccessful. Barbra Streisand recorded the Fagen/Becker composition ‘I Mean to Shine’ on her album Barbra Joan Streisand, released in August 1971, and the duo met producer Gary Katz, who hired them as staff songwriters for ABC/Dunhill in Los Angeles, where he had just become a staff producer. Katz suggested that Becker and Fagen form a band as a way to record their songs, and Steely Dan -- who took their name from a dildo in William Burroughs' Naked Lunch -- was formed shortly afterward.

Recruiting guitarists Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder, and keyboardist/vocalist David Palmer, Becker and Fagen officially formed Steely Dan in 1972, releasing their debut, Can't Buy a Thrill, shortly afterward. Palmer and Fagen shared lead vocals on the album, but the record's two hit singles -- the Top Ten "Do It Again" and "Reeling in the Years" -- were sung by Fagen. Can't Buy a Thrill was a critical and commercial success, but its supporting tour was a disaster, hampered by an under-rehearsed band and unappreciative audiences. Palmer left the band following the tour. Countdown to Ecstasy, released in 1973, was a critical hit, but it failed to generate a hit single, even though the band supported it with a tour.

Steely Dan replaced Hodder with Jeff Porcaro and added keyboardist/backup vocalist Michael McDonald prior to recording their third album, Pretzel Logic. Released in the spring of 1974, Pretzel Logic returned Steely Dan to the Top Ten on the strength of the single "Rikki Don't Lose That Number." After completing the supporting tour for Pretzel Logic, Becker and Fagen decided to retire from live performances and make Steely Dan a studio-based band. For their next album, 1975's Katy Lied, the duo hired a variety of studio musicians -- including Dias, Porcaro, guitarist Elliot Randall, saxophonists Phil Woods, bassist Wilton Felder, percussionist Victor Feldman, keyboardist Michael Omartian, and guitarist Larry Carlton -- as supporting musicians. Katy Lied was another hit, as was 1976's The Royal Scam, which continued in the vein of its predecessor. On 1977's Aja, Steely Dan's sound became more polished and jazzy, as they hired jazz fusion artists like Wayne Shorter, Lee Ritenour, and the Crusaders as support. Aja became their biggest hit, reaching the Top Five within three weeks of release and becoming one of the first albums to be certified platinum. Aja also gained the respect of many jazz musicians, as evidenced by Woody Herman recording an album of Becker/Fagen songs in 1978.

Following the release of Aja, ABC was bought out by MCA Records, resulting in a contractual dispute with the label that delayed until 1980 the release of their follow-up album. During the interim, the group had a hit with the theme song for the film FM in 1978. Steely Dan finally released Gaucho, the follow-up to Aja, in late 1980, and it became another Top Ten hit for the group. During the summer of 1981, Becker and Fagen announced that they were parting ways. The following year, Fagen released his solo debut, The Nightfly, which became a critical and commercial hit.

Fagen didn't record another album until 1993, when he reunited with Becker, who produced Kamakiriad. The album was promoted by the first Steely Dan tour in nearly 20 years, and while the record failed to sell, the concerts were very popular. In 1994, Becker released his solo debut, 11 Tracks of Whack, which was produced by Fagen. The following year, Steely Dan mounted another reunion tour, and in early 2000 the duo issued Two Against Nature, their first new studio album in two decades. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Steely Dan followed it in 2003 with Everything Must Go. Fagan’s solo album Morph the Cat was released in 2006, and Becker released Circus Money in 2008 as Steely Dan embarked on another tour. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Definitive Collection

1. Do It Again

2. Dirty Work

3. Reelin' In The Years

4. Bodhisattva

5. My Old School

6. Rikki Don't Lose That Number

7. Black Friday

8. Bad Sneakers

9. Kid Charlemagne

10. Deacon Blues

11. Peg

12. FM

13. Hey Nineteen

14. Babylon Sisters

15. Cousin Dupree

16. Things I Miss The Most

x

Track List: The Last Mall

1. The Last Mall

x

Track List: Blues Beach

1. Blues Beach

x

Track List: Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972 - 1980

Disc 1

1. Do It Again

2. Dirty Work

3. Reelin' In The Years

4. Only A Fool Would Say That

5. Change Of The Guard

6. Bodhisattva

7. The Boston Rag

8. Show Biz Kids

9. My Old School

10. Rikki Don't Lose That Number

11. Night By Night

12. Pretzel Logic

13. Any Major Dude Will Tell You

14. Black Friday

15. Bad Sneakers

16. Doctor Wu

17. Any World (That I'm Welcome To)

18. Chain Lightning

Disc 2

1. Kid Charlemagne

2. Don't Take Me Alive

3. Haitian Divorce

4. The Fez

5. Here In The Western World

6. Black Cow

7. Aja

8. Deacon Blues

9. Peg

10. Josie

11. FM

12. Babylon Sisters

13. Hey Nineteen

14. Time Out Of Mind

15. Third World Man

x

Track List: Two Against Nature

1. Gaslighting Abbie

2. What A Shame About Me

3. Two Against Nature

4. Janie Runaway

5. Almost Gothic

6. Jack Of Speed

7. Cousin Dupree

8. Negative Girl

9. West Of Hollywood

x

Track List: Alive In America

1. Babylon Sisters (Live)

2. Green Earrings (Live)

3. Bodhisattva (Live)

4. Reelin' In The Years (Live)

5. Josie (Live)

6. Book Of Liars (Live)

7. Peg (Live)

8. Third World Man (Live)

9. Kid Charlemagne (Live)

10. Sign In Stranger (Live)

11. Aja (Live)

x

Track List: Citizen Steely Dan

Disc 1

1. Do It Again

2. Dirty Work

3. Kings

4. Midnite Cruiser

5. Only A Fool Would Say That

6. Reelin' In The Years

7. Fire In The Hole

8. Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)

9. Change Of The Guard

10. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

11. Bodhisattva

12. Razor Boy

13. The Boston Rag

14. Your Gold Teeth

15. Show Biz Kids

16. My Old School

Disc 2

1. King Of The World

2. Pearl Of The Quarter

3. Rikki Don't Lose That Number

4. Night By Night

5. Any Major Dude Will Tell You

6. Barrytown

7. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

8. Parker's Band

9. Through With Buzz

10. Pretzel Logic

11. With A Gun

12. Charlie Freak

13. Monkey In Your Soul

14. Bodhisattva (Live)

15. Black Friday

16. Bad Sneakers

17. Rose Darling

18. Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More

19. Doctor Wu

20. Everyone's Gone To The Movies

21. Chain Lightning

Disc 3

1. Your Gold Teeth II

2. Any World (That I'm Welcome To)

3. Throw Back The Little Ones

4. Kid Charlemagne

5. The Caves Of Altamira

6. Don't Take Me Alive

7. Sign In Stranger

8. The Fez

9. Green Earrings

10. Haitian Divorce

11. Everything You Did

12. The Royal Scam

13. Here At The Western World

14. Black Cow

15. Aja

16. Peg

Disc 4

1. Deacon Blues

2. Home At Last

3. I Got The News

4. Josie

5. FM

6. Babylon Sisters

7. Hey Nineteen

8. Glamour Profession

9. Gaucho

10. Time Out Of Mind

11. My Rival

12. Third World Man

13. Everyone's Gone To The Movies (Demo)

x

Track List: Before Steely Dan

1. Don't Let Me In

2. A Little With Sugar

3. Charlie Freak

4. Let George Do It

5. Android Warehouse

6. You Go Where I Go

7. The Mock Turtle Song

8. Come Back Baby

9. Brooklyn

10. Barry Town

11. Mina From China

12. The Roaring Of The Lamb

13. Parker's Band

14. More To Come

15. Stone Piano

16. Old Regime

17. I Can't Function

18. The Caves Of Altamura

19. Any World (That I Am Welcome To)

20. Braintap Shuffle

x

Track List: Old Regime

1. Brain Tap Shuffle

2. Come Back Baby

3. Don't Let Me In

4. Old Regime

5. Brooklyn

6. Mock Turtle Song

7. Soul Ram

8. I Can't Function

9. Yellow Peril

10. Let George Do It

x

Track List: A Decade Of Steely Dan

1. FM

2. Black Friday

3. Babylon Sisters

4. Deacon Blues

5. Bodhisattva

6. Hey Nineteen

7. Do It Again

8. Peg

9. Rikki Don't Lose That Number

10. Reelin' In The Years

11. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

12. Kid Charlemagne

13. My Old School

14. Bad Sneakers

x

Track List: Gold

1. Hey Nineteen

2. Green Earrings

3. Deacon Blues

4. Chain Lightning

5. FM

6. Black Cow

7. King Of The World

8. Babylon Sisters

9. Here In The Western World

10. Century's End (Remix)

11. True Companion

12. Bodhisattva (Live)

x

Track List: Gaucho

1. Babylon Sisters

2. Hey Nineteen

3. Glamour Profession

4. Gaucho

5. Time Out Of Mind

6. My Rival

7. Third World Man

x

Track List: Aja

1. Black Cow

2. Aja

3. Deacon Blues

4. Peg

5. Home At Last

6. I Got The News

7. Josie

x

Track List: The Royal Scam

1. Kid Charlemagne

2. The Caves Of Altamira

3. Don't Take Me Alive

4. Sign In Stranger

5. The Fez

6. Green Earrings

7. Haitian Divorce

8. Everything You Did

9. The Royal Scam

x

Track List: Katy Lied

1. Black Friday

2. Bad Sneakers

3. Rose Darling

4. Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More

5. Doctor Wu

6. Everyone's Gone To The Movies

7. Your Gold Teeth II

8. Chain Lightning

9. Any World (That I'm Welcome To)

10. Throw Back The Little Ones

x

Track List: Pretzel Logic

1. Rikki Don't Lose That Number

2. Night By Night

3. Any Major Dude Will Tell You

4. Barrytown

5. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

6. Parker's Band

7. Through With Buzz

8. Pretzel Logic

9. With A Gun

10. Charlie Freak

11. Monkey In Your Soul

x

Track List: Countdown To Ecstasy

1. Bodhisattva

2. Razor Boy

3. The Boston Rag

4. Your Gold Teeth

5. Show Biz Kids

6. My Old School

7. Pearl Of The Quarter

8. King Of The World

x

Track List: Can't Buy A Thrill

1. Do It Again

2. Dirty Work

3. Kings

4. Midnite Cruiser

5. Only A Fool Would Say That

6. Reelin' In The Years

7. Fire In The Hole

8. Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)

9. Change Of The Guard

10. Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

Comments

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❤❤❤❤❤❤
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��������
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Sun is coming up spring is on the way and josie yall
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19sandy62
I like this song, sooooo smooth......
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married 41 years and still doing it again...
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kelleylinda8 4 0
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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Lots of references and I like the idea of metaphor. Been listening since the Old Man had the 8 tracks. Now after 43 years on the planet still no one like them. Ever
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If they have a desert house I sure hope they share the milkshakes
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Do it again, baby!!!!
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johnmargie6
These boys are fabulous in person, do them
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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I have can't buy a thrill in perfect mint condition on ABC vinal!
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It's like coming home. Every time I hear SD....it's like. ...where have I been? Style, sophisticati o n . ...thanks Walter and Donald
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Smoking and drinking to one of my favorite song of my younger life. The memories of hanging out with a couple of friends in the park just being teenagers enjoying life. Awesome
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dragonlady60 8 8
Lol Hey nineteen ok TONEDEF are u happy ?!
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dragonlady60 8 8
My fave SONG by SD....
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Kicking back with a couple of friends in the park smoking and drinking. Chilling and just being teenagers enjoying life. Cool memories
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stumbled onto these guys as a teen, and have always admired and loved their music. consistently good. aja, gaucho, royal scam, you name it.
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Don't forget the badass horns!
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Top of their field , style incomparable with any. The more you listen, the more you appreciate the refined music which I believe reached its pinnacle with Aja although I've always been partial to 'Countdown'. A must.
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Go Clemson, Go!
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These guys are great after a big ole bong hit
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They were just getting big when I got out of the Army in '71 - best musical years ever - not just because of Steely Dan, but they were the best of the best as far as I was concerned with the only serious challenger being Pink Floyd. Freedom after two years just made it that much better.
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Roll Tide Roll
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tritonrocks
You see it all in Three D !!!!!!
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Yes some of the best songs EVER written...,b u t a son of a gun to play acoustic guitar to.
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These 2 guys are right up there with McCartney/Le n n o n as the best writing/comp o s i n g duo ever. They blow away M/L as musicians though.
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rugbywing5
prepare to meet the challenge of the new Frontier
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They r so great!!! They r my boys. Love them!
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Chill and edgy, cerebral and emotive, catchy and complex..... a l l at the same time. The one group that was consistently the soundtrack for the best times of my life. Thanks Walter and Donald.
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dragonlady60 8 8
HAPPY NEW YEAR...MAY ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE....BE SAFE...
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dragonlady60 8 8
LOVE SD...THE GREATEST
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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Steely Dan makes me proud to be an American.
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bjflink
If you don't like Steely Dan you need to rethink your life!
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lasiter803
1972...
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lasiter803
Do It Again!!!
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dragonlady60 8 8
PARTY DAYS TY SD
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Drag racing down Va. Beach Boulevard.

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dragonlady60 8 8
After work make a drink sit and play SD......HAPP Y HOLIDAYS BE SAFE
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dragonlady60 8 8
EXCELLANT SD.....FOREV E R !!!
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Two of the best together or alone Classic
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Merry goodness day
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Wild West tune. Inter-stella r
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Best band ever. The. Govenor
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Awesome tune
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The Best then and now !!!!!!!
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LOVE me some Steely Dan
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Listened to the dan all through high school, always loved em so many memories, still one of my favorites almost 40 years later
Show more

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