Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
As should be expected, Steely Dan's four-disc box set isn't like all the other rectangular pop-music retrospectives/tombstones. Not for Messrs. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the typically bloated, ego-jacking crate padded... more »
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As should be expected, Steely Dan's four-disc box set isn't like all the other rectangular pop-music retrospectives/tombstones. Not for Messrs. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the typically bloated, ego-jacking crate padded out with childhood recordings, suspect cassette demos, and broken-down session takes, annotated by candid snapshots purloined from some distant relative. Nope, this is simply Dan Mach 1's complete oeuvre, from the craft-conscious pop of Can't Buy a Thrill to the jazzy torpor of Gaucho, laid out chronologically and neatly compressed into four discs, with not even a handful of "bonus" cuts (a live recording of "Bodhisattva," a '71 demo of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" with Flo and Eddie on the side, "Here at the Western World," a Royal Scam outtake, and their obligatory soundtrack cameo, "FM") to color outside the lines. The liner notes are suitably smart, even if they occasionally strain trying to stay astride of B&F's patent sardonicism. For the aspiring Steely Dan completist, a fine place to start. --Jerry McCulley
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Peerless Pop Music
R. Wyatt | London | 12/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a bargain set. Cynical record companies being as they are, it will probably be withdrawn when they release the new Steely Dan album in Feb 2000 and try to maximise their back catalogue profit margin. Buy it now before it goes. It has every track from their seven classy studio albums plus the soundtrack single FM and a few extra demos etc on 4 CDs. The CD remastered sound quality is first class and the packaging is OK if somewhat pretentious - probably what you would expect from a pair of smart alecs like Becker and Fagen. The music itself is uniformally wonderful, I cant think of any other rock act who are anything like as consistent - the result of making use of/ collaborating with the best musicians of the day. The quality of the musicianship. compositional skills and songwriting are unequalled and will probably never be bettered in the pop music field. The seamless integration of fabulous guitar playing with keyboard and horns is sheer quality. Their best period, in my opinion was Countdown to Ecstasy where they used jazz well but didnt take too long thinking about it. Your Gold Teeth is a magnificent cut, an awesome piano solo, great guitar and about as far away as you can go from the 4 minute pop song without distancing yourself from pop music fans. I guess that the strength of Steely Dan is they know just how far to push out the envelope without alienating the listener who doesnt normally like jazz and other exotica. An essential purchase and as sophisticated as popular music can get. The best body of music to come out of the USA in the seventies. Quality."
Music = immortal ... package = *obsolete*
kaputnik | wherever | 12/04/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It really does seem convenient, doesn't it - getting all of an artist's work in one nice neat package, with a cute booklet thrown in. And make no mistake about it, everything that's on here is worth owning. The problem is, this particular package was flawed from the very beginning. Lets start with the fact that, had the cheapskate record company been willing to stretch to five discs (and we all know how much a blank cd costs by now), they could have presented each of the albums without interruption (Katy Lied + The Royal Scam fit on one disc), instead of rudely cutting off three of them (mid-side no less). An even bigger problem is that, as Messrs. Fagen and Becker have ruefully recounted many times in the years since, MCA didn't bother locating the master tapes for this... they used the same weak transfers that were done in the 80's and had someone tweak them a little bit. Adding insult to injury, they then reissued the individual albums with a sticker proclaiming them to be "Newly Remastered by the Artist". And you wonder why these guys record for a different label now. Sheesh.
Anyway, the story does have a happy ending. In 1999, Don + Walt presided over a _real_ remastering of the albums, with the help of Roger Nichols, who'd engineered the original albums. Those cds, available today, sound spectacular and feature groovy liner notes that tell a lot more about the band than this booklet does.
Do yourself a favor - get the albums individually. Even the untrained ear will marvel at the immaculate sound, and there's barely any price difference anyway. Enjoy!"
Recommended ( with some reservations )
Ian K. Hughes | San Mateo, CA | 10/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the music alone, this box set ("CITIZEN STEELY DAN") containing the 7 original studio recordings (1972-80) deserves the highest possible recommendation.The Steely Dan "story" is well-known to aficionado's but perhaps worth a review for the benefit of those new to the music: the intellectual and aesthetic background (beatnik/bebop ethos, Bard College) of founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, the amazing debut album, the early touring days and heated breakup of the original band (1974), Becker and Fagen's "retirement" from the road (for the remainder of the 70's), their use of "satellite" studio musicians on subsequent recording projects, disbanding again to pursue solo careers in 1981, re-forming to tour in 1993/94 and most recently, the recording of two studio albums (2000 & 2003) which show no dimming of creative powers on the part of the two principals. From a vantage point 30+ years down the line from Steely Dan's formation, it is clear that Becker & Fagen's music transcends the fleeting contemporary "moment" it continues to elicit interest on the part of listeners (new and old) who appreciate its unique marriage of creativity and craftsmanship, an achievement all the more glorious when compared to the trivial period pieces that comprise most pop and rock offerings.STEELY DAN CHARACTERISTICS:1. Song-style: Vignettes, grotesqueries with occasional touches of poignancy. Characters: a dissolute crew of fallen idols, hacks/quacks, junkies, dealers, glamour-queens, gamblers, power-brokers, revolutionaries. 2. Lyric content stock-in-trade: arcane references, self-mocking tone, parody, irony, black humor, the bizarre, hallucinatory, non sequitur, confessional, quasi-redemptive. 3. Musical content: jazz harmonies and progressions (chord changes very foreign to most rock music), "close harmony" vocals, elaborate guitar solos, country & western influence (in early albums w/Jeff Baxter), funky "LA" rhythm sections (in later albums), female background choruses (Homeric "sirens"), virtuoso guest soloists (sax/drums/guitar), sophisticated arrangements and immaculately engineered sound. BRIEF INDIVIDUAL ALBUM RATINGS:"CAN'T BUY A THRILL" (1972) 4 stars:
Debut features many SD trademarks; great album but still searching for identity "COUNTDOWN TO ECSTASY" (1973) 5 stars:
Energetic, rocking (most "band-like" record); SD song style firmly fixed "PRETZEL LOGIC" (1974) 5 stars:
Concise, eclectic, elegant, poignant (last album w/ original band)"KATY LIED" (1975) 4 stars:
Polished and jazzy (first "post band" LP) but really a stage on the way toward the sound they would perfect with "AJA" "THE ROYAL SCAM" (1976) 5 stars:
Tough, cynical, funky, bizarre "AJA" (1977) 5 stars:
Jazzy, surreal, sleek, intoxicated (the SD high-water mark)"GAUCHO" (1980) 4 stars:
Weary, polished, decadent (a creative step down from "AJA" but superb nonetheless). Given the foregoing, "Citizen Steely Dan" would, it seems, easily merit a five star rating. However, there are a few reservations when one considers certain aspects of this box set:1. Lyrics are not provided (a huge oversight).2. In order to limit the number of discs (and presumably, the cost), 7 albums are compressed into the space of 4 discs, which necessitates the breaking up of albums over different CD's. Unsurprisingly, this results in a disruption of mood and continuity, especially damaging to works so carefully programmed by the artists.3. The booklet is entertaining in the typically quirky manner of Fagen and Becker (numerous citations from hostile critics). However, its layout is somewhat chaotic in design, unpleasant on the eyes when reading the (thankfully) well-written and informative liner notes which summarize (often citing Becker & Fagen directly) what the leaders were aiming for in their music.CONCLUSION:Starting in 1999, individual re-masters of all 7 original albums were put on the market and may well prove to be a better option for prospective buyers (despite relative price increase in purchasing the whole bunch one by one). Lyrics are included in these editions (along with irreverent commentaries). If one is an ultra-fanatic for all things "SD", the "CITIZEN STEELY DAN" box set may prove irresistible but for those existing on a lesser plane of dedication, collecting the individual CD's in their recently (aesthetically pleasing) re-mastered form should be sufficient."