Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette, later replaced by a CD. In addition to a regular CD, I also own this music on a DTS Surround Sound DVD Audio disc, a format that never really caught on.
Not as consistently good or musically complex as Aja or Katy Lied, this smooth pop has a few good songs sprinkled among the 7 here. (Village Voice critic Robert Christgau cleverly referred to the album as Countdown To Lethargy). The duo (mainly Donald Fagen) almost seems more concerned with how things are produced than what is produced. Spending over a year in the studio and using 42 different musicians, this sterile, microproduced album earned a Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording, Non Classical. Still, when the grooves are right, they're right; I like the lyrics about awkward, misanthropic, aging hipsters (I can relate) and there's some great hooks throughout. Four songs on the album get regular playing time around here. Oddly, a Steely Dan shuffle has recently become my go-to music for evening steak grilling. Go figure.
Now somebody please explain the back cover photo to me.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #9
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #19
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #8
Tracks: My favorite track is Time Out Of Mind. Decidedly more popish than your usual SD, I just can't resist the syncopated hook of the chorus. I also like Babylon Sisters, Hey Nineteen, and the title track with solid sax work from Tom Scott. I usually skip My Rival and the plodding Third World Man.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: One of my first CDs, probably one of the first 5 discs I ever purchased. Back in 1987, CDs were so cost-prohibitive that I couldn't afford to purchase them to discover new music; I couldn't take that chance. So the (admittedly ill-advised) process of replacing LPs with CDs began almost immediately after the purchase of a CD player.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Everything Must Go (2003)
Two Against Nature (2000)
Alive In America (1995)
A Decade of Steely Dan (1985)
Katy Lied (1975)