Donald Fagen's Nightfly - Love it or Hate it?


I am intrigued by this album. The first time i I heard it I was immediately hooked - I love it's laidback sound with puchy lines and funky beat...

What do you like (or hate) about it?

Fav tracks: New Frontier, Maxine & Nightfly - Your's?

Dewald Visser
dewald_visser
Love it. From beginning to end. I especially like "The Goodbye Look", which is a bouncy tune about a guy who realizes he's going to be whacked (or at leat that's my interpretation).

Good stuff.
Love it.
lyrics are irreverant and music is very bumptious. good stuff.
I think it is great but I find the drum tracks very artificial and tiring...catchy/distinctive at first then boringly monotonous.

If you read up on it......they went back and edited the drum track and replaced every beat with one "ideal" recorded beat....kind of an electronic drum set before they had electronic drum machiness such as became popular by groups like New Order. An interesting sound because each drum hit is so precisely the same even if the timing is still as per the drummer in the group studio sessions. (Syncopation varies but not the sound of each beat)
Agree with Tvad. Not a bad song on the album. If pressed, Ruby Baby and New Frontier would be my two favorites. Has enough complexity to keep things from getting boring, very well recorded and it is just plain fun. It would be in my top twenty list if I had one. The MFSL is my go to version followed by the German pressing.
I totally agree with what's been said. It would be on my Top 10 list for sure. I have read several times that this could have been "AJA II", if Steely Dan had done it.

The MOFI pressing is wonderful and I also have a Japanese pressing that is stunning...
Nice album. I just picked up a mint copy at the thrift a few weeks ago for a buck. Not my normal listening fare, but definitely worth bringing out every once in a while. Hell, it's worth it alone for that cool looking turntable cover.
Just listened to the whole cd before I hopped on the computer. Great stuff!
Did you know that this album employed a computer-based audio sampler system known as WENDEL II?
It was pioneered and designed by Roger Nichols. I spoke to him today about the two albums that he engineered - Gaucho & Nightfly. Some interesting stuff!

The WENDEL system is MIDI's pre-runner... Based on a 3 mHz Compal computer with 50kHz/16bit sampling!

Some trivia for you...

DV
A supreme talent, for sure, but his solo stuff sounds best suited for the dentist chair. Far more slick and 'gadgety' than any Steely Dan fare, IMO.
11-03-06: Boa2
A supreme talent, for sure, but his solo stuff sounds best suited for the dentist chair.
Whoa! What a buzzkill.

:)
Absolutely love it. In addition of everything that's been said so far, it's one of those albums that, played at low level, creates a superb mood of well-being (by which I'm not, repeat, not for a moment suggesting it were just "easy listening").
TOP 10 stuff in my book.
Without question one of the best engineered albums every recorded.
I bought the LP when this it was first released and thought it was a great recording, sonically and musically.

Now I still like the music but do not like the very digital sound. One of the earliest digital albums.

Love the optimism of IGY
Love it! Great songs and great sound, except the bass should have been brought up a little more in the mix.
Whoa! What a buzzkill.
Sorry about that. I don't dislike the album. It's just a little too perfect a puzzle for my tastes.
Sorry, but it is kind of tough to like Tom Waits and Donald Fagen at the same time...I stick with Tom for perfect albums.Kind of agree with Boa2:

I don't dislike the album. It's just a little too perfect a puzzle for my tastes.

Even Steely Dan always sounded a bit too perfect for me. Not really on the "love it" side...
Great album. So is Kimakiriad. Morph is a distant third.
Nightfly, to me, is an all-time classic. I recall being floored hearing Fagen do "Walk Between the Raindrops". The arrangement in that song is, well, perfect...leading me to ask ,

Does anyone know what the above poster means when they say "too perfect".
Don't get me wrong-I like the record. But I can understand that someone might say it's "too perfect". Like much of Steely Dan's stuff, it' kind of a mixture of happy upbeat pop and pseudo jazz but if your tastes lean toward other types of music that a lot people consider to have a real "edge" like small group jazz, rock, blues, r&b or stuff like Tom Waits/Bob Dylan then "Nightfly" can seem to be a bit sterile and mechanical.

It probably boils down to what kind of mood you're in.
How can something be excessively perfect? Maybe it's like over abundant or past history.
...or a tiny midget.
How can something be excessively perfect? Maybe it's like over abundant or past history.

I suspect the human element is lost or reduced when something becomes so perfect that every drum beat is identical. Sometimes it is the little imperfections or slight variations that give feeling to music... a little emphasis here, a little restraint there. There is a mechanical or machine like sound to the drumming on this album....stunning album, without a doubt, but unsettling to those who fear the Borg ;-)
Are we listening to the same LP? The Borg? Wow.
I suspect the human element is lost or reduced when something becomes so perfect that every drumbeat is identical. Sometimes it is the little imperfections or slight variations that give feeling to music... a little emphasis here, a little restraint there. There is a mechanical or machine like sound to the drumming on this album....stunning album, without a doubt, but unsettling to those who fear the Borg ;-)

Couldn't have said it much better. Donald Fagen's albums always seemed like most of the emotion, that was there in the creation of the album, was lost during the recording and production.

Interestingly, I am a perfectionist myself and a scientist (hate to admit it), but music is providing a balancing force in life for me on the other side. With Donald Fagen I am missing a little the spontaneous emotion that is there in the creation of any type of art. In music, I need to capture and experience some of that raw artistic energy.

Hope this helps clarify my notion of "too perfect".

Rene
Hope this helps clarify my notion of "too perfect".

Sorry, we'er going to have to agree to disagree on both the estimation of emotion and the definition of "too perfect"! ;-)
Sorry, we're going to have to agree to disagree on both the estimation of emotion and the definition of "too perfect"! ;-)

Of course, emotional connection is very listener dependent :-) .

But I will make sure to put Donal Fagen on my table tonight. Interestingly, I even own two copies of Nightfly (CD and Vinyl)....

All the best,

Rene
Are we listening to the same LP? The Borg? Wow.

I accept Nightfly is a milestone recording along with DSOTM, Roxy Music Avalon and other great recordings out there. Musically it is great too...great piano, great vocals and great melodies.

My beef with the drumming is really a minor aspect.

As for the Borg.....just trying to resist assimulation of the machines, which are reponsible for "polishing" so much of what we hear today on commercial CD's (if you have been disappointed by a live performance then you know what I mean).
I love the Nightfly but have to agree with some comments about the drum sound making the overall feel a wee bit mechanical.
This will open another whole can of beens,but I've recently upgraded my system and this very "digital" recording has suddenly gained a depth and complex realisum that I did'nt think existed.The same for Morph which I feel is a great accomplishment especially for Fagen at this advanced point in his career.Buy the way my system is ARC150.2,CD3mk2,ARCLS26 and proac 1sc's.
Tafbay You must be an engineer toyr right on!
Is it a new release?
I think Nightfly is a very good CD. Probably the best of Donald Fagens three. I think of them as "smooth" or "easy listening" Steely Dan :<). Kamakiriad is very good but doesn't have the memorable and catchy tunes that Nightfly has. Morph The Cat is also enjoyable and I was glad to see it come out. All are meticulously produced. For me, sonics on all three are excellent.
The more I listen to morph the more I think it's Grammy material.
Here's a holy grail for you Nightfly fanatics. It was released as a 24K gold Japanese CD in a very limited edition. I've only seen it listed once, on eBay at $249 Buy-it-now from a seller in Japan. I've never heard it or even seen one.
If anyone has this CD how does it sound?
Here's a holy grail for you Nightfly fanatics. It was released as a 24K gold Japanese CD in a very limited edition. I've only seen it listed once, on eBay at $249 Buy-it-now from a seller in Japan.
Rja (Threads | Answers)

That's ridiculous.
Tvad,
I agree that it was pricey, at least for me. But it's certainly not any more ridiculous than a lot of other things I see in "audiophilia".
I gotta pipe in here cause I just got my SOTA back up and running after about a year of down time, my friend from our Audio club picked me up a Rega RB300 arm for Christmas and came over today to install it...its stock and I am running it on a Star/Saphire along with a Audio Technica AT-ML150/OCC cart into a Sound Valves tune pre with a humble yet pretty good sounding tube phono stage, the arm board he had when he was using the Rega arm is cut from a
Corian Counter and I am spinning this as I post it really really sounds great! I played a London FFRR pressing of Holst "The Planets" by The L.A. Philharmonic and that sounded great aswell........anyway it is great to have vinyl again, I missed it! PS thanks KARL!!!!!!!!!!!
So Chadnliz, how does your post relate to "The Nightfly"?
Well if you were a bit more literate or careful when you read I stated I was listening to the vinyl version of "The Nightfly" while I was posting, I understand you got rubbed wrong on a private issue when I didnt agree with you, now it appears you troll me posts in an effort to insult me.
Do you not have anything better to do?
Plain & simple: love it! Anything touched by Fagan is pretty much guaranteed to be interesting either intellectually, sonically or musically.

Being a drummer, I agree with others who find the percussion a bit one dimensional. The recording history of Fagan & Becker is riddled with stories of overzealous perfectionism. Their demands of machine perfect time/groove are legend.

I had the chance to see Steely Dan this past summer in Charlotte, NC. Their performances were lifeless shells of the classic hits that I learned and 'borrowed' from coming up, as they saw fit to replace extraordinary grooves with over-simplified, generic and very forgettable drumming. It was very disappointing.
when i bought my first cd player in 1984-5 this was one of the first 5 cd's i purchased and loved this recording. when i went to school people in my dorm thought i was nuts for playing it.

now all these years later i only listen to new frontier and walk between the raindrops. i find the too much of this cd is repetitive and mechanical sounding
Sure did get a mixed reaction...
I like it very, very much!

DV
I'm not in love with this album as I am with Steely Dan albums; I'll take a Steely Dan record over this anyday.