Did You Realize You Were A Champion In Their Eyes?
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 05/26/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To be said Katy Lied had it's definate moments but without any doubt this has to be Steely Dan's most creatively and musically satisfying since Countdown To Ecstasy several years earler. Musically however the music couldn't me more different. By this time Becker and Fagan had settled firmly into the studio oriented ethic they were hoping for but didn't fully achieve with the previous album. And even though this never got the recognition that what came after it did this is really the pair and the studio aces they surrounded themselves with at last finding their sound. What they really found is the funk. Now Steely Dan had ALWAYS been funky but in terms of the technically demanding rhythms and harmonics of the music,which naturally suited Becker & Fagan's style anyway this album really finds them dipping into that area more than anything. This was actually one of the earliest Steely Dan albums I owned and it was deep in my "funk period" so it worked pretty well. Yes true this album does feature a lot more guitars;Becker himself,Larry Carlton,Denny Dias,Dean Parks and Elliot Randell are all featured throughout this album and that's a pretty big guitar army for these guys. Interestly enough the guitars are used in a very jazzy funk way throughout as more of a textural sound element overall than just as soloing noise makers. That's exactly the effect you get on four of the albums strongest (and uptempo) cuts in the sharp,aggresive yet elegant funk stylings of "Kid Charlamagne","Don't Take Me Alive","The Fez" and the almost Songs in the Key of Life-period Stevie Wonder sounding "Green Earrings". The clavinets and keyboards used on these songs really add to the harmonic style as well. Lyrically most of these songs are Steely Dan at their darkest:songs about misdirected anti heroes,youth bombers and domestic unrest are among the themese explored here and the good part is their presented in a wonderfully poetic and intelligent manner. "The Caves Of Altamira","Sign In Stranger" and the title song are all elaborate midtempo jazz-funk-fusion explorations that really look the most to their sound to come although the dynamics are a bit looser than they would be in the emmediate future. "Everything You Did" and the lightly Caribbean flavored "Haitian Divorce" are closer to the breezy jazz-pop of the earlier Steely Dan but again produced very differently. Officially bidding farewell to their earlier band based sound this album finds Dan firmly on the way to Aja and if you listen to this album thoroughly you'll realize that album was really the logical follow up."
Their very best effort
Philip Bradshaw | toronto canada | 06/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason I had always thought that, for many fans, The Royal Scam was the weakest link in the Steely Dan discography. Perhaps it was Allmusic measly 3 ½ stars. In any event, this album vies for top spot together with Aja and Katy Lied. Judging from the opinions expressed at Amazon.com I am far from alone in my appreciation.
For once Steely Dan's music didn't "progress" from the immediately preceding recording. Fagen and Becker merely trod water. Any song from The Royal Scam would slide easily onto Katy and vice versa. This isn't intended in any way as a criticism. I was delighted that the boys decided to make nine more acerbic, guitar-driven jazzy masterpieces along the lines of the songs on Katy. For me the style's the same but the material is slightly stronger. I loved Katy, so needless to say I adore Scam.
Throughout the middle years of the 1970's Steely Dan released an unbroken string of memorable albums. The musical styles varied and the make-up of the band changed constantly yet Steely Dan never produced anything but top notch, brilliantly witty and innovative music. Other than The Beatles I can think of no-one else who had such a run as this band did from 1972 until 1980.