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Steely Dan is an American rock band founded in 1972 by core members Walter Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals). Blending rock, jazz, traditional pop, R&B, and sophisticated studio production with cryptic and ironic lyrics, the band enjoyed critical and commercial success starting from the early 1970s until breaking up in 1981. Throughout their career, the duo recorded with a revolving cast of session musicians, and in 1974 retired from live performances to become a studio-only band. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies”.
Since reuniting in 1993, Steely Dan has toured steadily and released two albums of new material, the first of which, Two Against Nature, earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. VH1 ranked Steely Dan at #82 on their list of the 100 greatest musical artists of all time.
Can’t Buy a Thrill is the debut studio album by the American rock band Steely Dan, released in November 1972 by ABC Records. It was produced by Gary Katz and written by band members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. The album was recorded at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles.
Countdown to Ecstasy is the second studio album by the American rock band Steely Dan, released in July 1973 by ABC Records. It was recorded at Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado and at The Village Recorder in West Los Angeles, California. After the departure of vocalist David Palmer, the group recorded the album with Donald Fagen singing lead on all the songs.
Although it was a critical success, the album failed to generate a hit single, and consequently charted at only number 35 on the Billboard 200. It was eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Well-received upon its release, Countdown to Ecstasy received perfect scores from music critics in retrospective reviews.
Katy Lied is the fourth studio album by American rock band Steely Dan, released in 1975 by ABC Records. It went gold and peaked at No. 13 on the US charts. The single “Black Friday” charted at No. 37.
The album was the first after the break-up of the original five-piece Steely Dan; most of the original members had left during a rift over touring and recording schedules. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who had been increasingly using session musicians in the studio on prior albums, continued on with numerous prominent Los Angeles areas studio musicians. This album marks the first appearance of singer Michael McDonald on a Steely Dan album. Jeff Porcaro, then only 20 years old, played drums on all the songs except “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)”, which features session drummer Hal Blaine. It also marked the first appearance of Larry Carlton, who played guitar on “Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More”.
The Royal Scam is the fifth studio album by Steely Dan, originally released by ABC Records in 1976. The album went gold and peaked at #15 on the charts. The Royal Scam features more prominent guitar work than the prior Steely Dan album, Katy Lied, which had been the first without founding guitarist Jeff Baxter. Guitarists on the recording include Walter Becker, Denny Dias, Larry Carlton, Elliott Randall and Dean Parks.
In common with other Steely Dan albums, The Royal Scam is littered with cryptic allusions to people and events both real and fictional.
Aja (pronounced Asia) is the sixth studio album by the jazz rock band Steely Dan. Originally released in 1977 on ABC Records, the album peaked at number three on the US charts and number five in the UK. It was the band’s first platinum album and ultimately became their best-selling studio release, eventually selling over 5 million copies. It spawned a number of hit singles, including “Peg”, “Deacon Blues”, and “Josie”. In July 1978, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. The credits for Aja list nearly 40 musicians, as band leaders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker pushed Steely Dan further into experimenting with different combinations of session players.
In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. The album is often cited as one of the best test recordings for audiophiles, due to its high production standards
Gaucho is the seventh studio album by the American rock band Steely Dan, released on November 21, 1980 by MCA Records. The sessions for Gaucho represent the band’s typical penchant for studio perfectionism and obsessive recording technique. To record the album, the band used at least 42 different musicians, spent over a year in the studio, and far exceeded the original monetary advance given by the record label.
During the two-year span in which the album was recorded, the band was plagued by a number of creative, personal and professional problems. MCA, Warner Bros. and Steely Dan had a three-way legal battle over the rights to release the album. After it was released, jazz musician Keith Jarrett threatened the band with legal action for plagiarism in the title song.
Gaucho marked a significant stylistic change for the band, introducing a more minimal, groove and atmosphere-based format. The harmonically complex chord changes that were a distinctive mark of earlier Steely Dan songs are less prominent on Gaucho, with the record’s songs tending to revolve around a single rhythm or mood, although complex chord progressions were still present particularly in “Babylon Sisters” and “Glamour Profession”. Gaucho proved to be Steely Dan’s final studio album before a 20-year hiatus from the recording industry.
Greatest Hits is a compilation album by Steely Dan, released in 1978. It has sold over two million units in the U.S.
Includes tracks from the band’s first six studio albums and includes a previously unreleased song, “Here at the Western World”, which was recorded during the sessions for The Royal Scam but not included on that album.
A Decade of Steely Dan is a compilation album by Steely Dan, released in 1985. It was the band’s first compilation specifically for the compact disc market, and was certified a gold record by the RIAA.
The album acts as a de facto singles package, including every Top 40 hit enjoyed by the band prior to its release with the exceptions of “Josie” from 1978 and “Time Out of Mind” from 1981. The remaining six tracks include two additional charting singles “My Old School” and ‘Kid Charlemagne,” a cover of Duke Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” which had been issued as a promotional single and “Bad Sneakers” which missed the Billboard Hot 100 as a single, and two album tracks, “Bodhisattva” and “Babylon Sisters.” The version of “FM (No Static at All)” on this compilation is the original album version from the FM soundtrack.