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Morph the Cat
Donald Fagen
Morph the Cat
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
 
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1

The first solo album in 13 years from Donald Fagen, Morph The Cat is another contemporary classic from half of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo Steely Dan. With Fagan's adventurous musical depth, uniquely layered lyrics ...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Donald Fagen
Title: Morph the Cat
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Reprise / Wea
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 3/14/2006
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
Style: Soft Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 093624997528, 093624997566

Synopsis

Album Description
The first solo album in 13 years from Donald Fagen, Morph The Cat is another contemporary classic from half of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo Steely Dan. With Fagan's adventurous musical depth, uniquely layered lyrics and entertaining subject matter (from a conversation with the ghost of Ray Charles to a romantic liaison with an airport security guard named Joan), Morph the Cat is the newest chapter chronicling the most sophisticated music in rock.

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CD Reviews

Still in fine form
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 03/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Fagen's previous solo albums were "concept" albums: each had a definite theme that followed through each of the tracks. MORPH is also something of a concept album, although in a looser way. The title track sets the stage for what could have easily been called "New York City Stories," with various character dealing with their dreams and fears of post-9/11 America.

Musically, the album actually sounds more like Steely Dan than Donald Fagen...although this certainly isn't a bad thing. Fagen's trademark keyboards and bass abound throughout, but one immediately notices the prominent role of electric guitars on the disc. There's "real" brass (vs. electronically reproduced instruments) on several tracks, giving songs like "Brite Nightgown" and "The Night Belongs to Mona" extra punch. And my favorite new touch has to be the use of an organ and real piano on a few tracks. The music is uniformly tight, occasionally surprising (as in the trippy marimba flourish leading into the 3rd verse of "Brite Nightgown"), and NEVER dull.

As a longtime fan, my ongoing gripe is the brief amount of material covered here. Although MORPH has one more track than each of the previous Fagen albums, it still feels too short. And I love a good jazzy instrumental break, but a few of the tunes go on a little too long. In the final analysis: It's not as good as THE NIGHTFLY (nothing...ever...will be), but it's a slight improvement over KAMIKIRIAD.

Finally, a plea to Mr. Fagen himself...please don't make us wait another 13 years for more!"
Fagen's Back
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 03/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Morph The Cat is Donald Fagen's first solo release in thirteen years. The album, must like most everything he's done with Steely Dan and his previous two solo releases, is an impeccably produced mix of jazz, rock & soul. The album is built around the fears of the post 9/11 world. Much of Mr. Fagen's lyrics are cynical in nature and while his bite is still intact, there is a more personable feel. "Security Joan" is a funny look at the sexuality of a frisking by an airport security guard. "What I Do" revolves around talking to Ray Charles. Darker tones creep into "The Night Belongs To Mona" which tells the tale of a woman afraid to leave her apartment after 9/11 while "Mary Shut The Door" is the most overtly political song that contains thinly veiled lines about the Bush administration like referring to a thuggish cult gaining control of the government. Mr. Fagen perfectly balances these darker feelings with his sardonic humor. While he is a noted studio perfectionist, the sound of the album never feels over manipulated. There is a fluidity and natural feel that allows the songs to breath."
Fagen's 3rd Solo Album a Winner
Brian Whistler | Forestville, CA United States | 03/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Donald Fagen may very well be incapable of witing bad music. So, to criticize an artist of his caliber is almost superfluous in this age of disposable music. Nonetheless, because of the high standards he holds for his own output if may be useful to discuss his work as compared to the high watermarks of his career.

First of all, let me say that this is no Nightfly, easily the best of his trio of solo works. That being said, there are songs on here that are as musically deep, as richly textured and as lyrically savvy as anything he has ever produced.

I read in a recent interview that Fagen considers these solo efforts to be a trilogy of sorts, the first being a look at his youth, the second an exploration of mid life and this (hopefully not his last!) being a look towards the winter of his life. Death, he claims, is the overriding theme here. While there are certainly allusions to the Grim Reaper this CD hardly seems like the last creative gasp of an artist at the end of his productive years. It is interesting to note that the one song that directly addresses the subject of death (Brite Nightgown,) is delivered in the form of a lively and infectious funky groove that makes you want to get up and boogy!

Contrary to Fagen's stated intention, this CD does not seem to be a concept album per se. While there are a few underlying post 9/11 references, it is really a collection of expertly penned tunes which touch on a variety of favorite Fagen themes, sexual adventure (Security Joan,), rock and roll (The H Gang, a light hearted history of an all girl rock band) rocky relationships, (the autobiographical, "Great Pagoda of Fun",) political paranoia (the chilling, "Mary Shut the Garden Door",) and the ubiquitous lost souls that populate Fagen's ultra cool urban landscapes ("The Night Belongs to Mona",another gem.)

This album, like all Fagen's stuff, grows on the listener with repeated play. The band is top notch, the horn writing meaty and tasteful and Fagen's keyboards are a joy to hear, particularly his gorgeous melodica playing which he has taken to a level of expressiveness I hadn't thought possible. At times it reminds me of Stevie's harmonica-very soulful stuff. There are many more layered vocals here than in the past two Dan releases. It's a lushly produced recording, yet Fagen's highly accurate ear keeps everything in line and miraculously, manages to allow the arrangements to breathe in the midst of some serious density.

No, it's not all top of the line Fagen, but there is so much to like on here that I won't belabor the negatives. I will say that I agree with a prevous reviewer who felt that "Morph the Cat" is not the strongest tune of the lot, and seems like an odd choice to be the title track and the album opener to boot. This odd little piece about a "Totoro" like cat who showers Manhattan with good vibes seems too sunny for the rest of the album, and tends to be pretty static. It's my least favorite tune at the moment.

My advice to the first time listener is to hang in there; it gets better and better the further in you go. Inside, gems Like "Great Pagoda of Fun and "The Night Belongs to Mona " await, songs as good as anything this dependably excellent artist has ever written. Overall, Morph the Cat is that rareest of things in pop music, ear candy with real nutritional value."