Three and a half stars for waning Steely Dan
Philip Bradshaw | toronto canada | 06/15/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought Gaucho on vinyl in 1980. However, as I spent a fortune duplicating my record collection on CD, including buying each of the first six by Steely Dan, I steered clear of Gaucho. It really wasn't even a conscious decision. I didn't see it in the rack and say to myself "um, don't have that. Oh, yes I remember, I never really cared for it in the first place. So, no". It was more like Gaucho was something by, say, REO Speedwagon - a CD I wouldn't buy even if I has unlimited resources. However, I was at a friend's house some time ago and he played his newly acquired Gaucho CD. Liked it, Bought it. It then sat in a CD rack until now. When I went to play it, just minutes ago, I discovered that I had never even removed the plastic wrapping!
As I sit here, several years later, listening again to this recording I rather think that my initial 1980 assessment was correct. On the positive side, Gaucho is as well-recorded and played as one could possibly want. There are a couple of great songs (Babylon Sisters, Glamour Profession). On the negative side, it is very close in style and content to Aja yet it never quite stacks up. With thousands of records to choose from the question I ask myself is why would I take this CD off the shelf rather than Aja? In a wine context it is a tasty Aussie Shiraz - a great blast right off the top - but tiring rather too quickly, while Aja is well-aged Bordeaux - perhaps a little more subtle and definitely more complex, and delicious to the last drop.
One final note - Gaucho fails for me because I absolutely loved Steely Dan and after an absence of three years I expected more. After all, the band had rarely stood still throughout its brief but illustrious career. I didn't want a reprise of Aja. On the other hand, had Gaucho been a record released in 1980 by an unknown band as its debut I would have been mightily impressed.