Awesome. Didn't know. Seen these boys twice. My brother was right stage camera man for the Two Against Nature movie. The interviews with Donald and Walter crack me up. I love these guys too.
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Donjr...I've had the pleasure to see Steely Dan at least half a dozen times. One of my favorite shows was at Red Rocks.
French_fries...the sound quality of this CD is exceptional. Fagen is notorious about great SQ and clean recordings. It will be released on vinyl here shortly. HDTracks has a high-res 24/88.2 version available now.
I got "Condos" the day it came out after pre-ordering it...I NEVER do that, and had no idea it would arrive the day it was released. Whoo hoo...the bad news is that my GF can't listen to Fagan, and barely to Becker (his 2 solo albums are BRILLIANT and personal faves). Weird, but a concert promoter music librarian friend claims that, in general, "chicks don't like Steely Dan"...I'm not sure this is true, but I am sure I don't care. My Fagan listening is now "off-girlfriend." One of the things about "Condos" is that on some tracks there are a pile of instruments listed you can barely pick out (yes my hifi is resolving and accurate)...bass harmonica, etc. Strange, but, again, NOBODY does this stuff like these guys (do you want Michael Leonhart to produce YOUR next album?..HELL YES)...just crazy and always interesting lyrics, reference quality sound, and cool man musical chord movement that makes me say YEAH...out loud and in private like some idiot. Another note about the sound of this album...the first track has bass that almost seems out of phase (but still cool and clearly intententional), and other tracks make my sub explode...and that's also cool, and intentional...like the opening B note bass extravaganza on Morph the Cat. I hope they have a few more Steely Dan albums in 'em as it's just all good.
I hope it is much, much, much better than "Morph the Cat" What a dog!!!!
Is "Sunken Condos" available on CD (yet)?? Or is vinyl the only medium for now??
"Countdown to Ecstasy" was an excellent jazz venture. For me, "Two Against Nature" was a bust. Will have to give it another play.
Currently, revisiting Fleetwood Mac. "Tusk" has a few turkeys, but over all a very good album. Received but still have not listened to early Mac's "Boston Blues" live compilation from 1970.
I was happly to discover that I sold, lost, or gave away my vinyl copy of "Rumours" Lovely elevator music, but torturous to listen through in a one sitting.
Morph is a great album (except to sunnyjim and my gf) and usually only engenders criticism among those comparing it to other "Dan" stuff...a useless but understandable exercise especially relative to the mountains of crap released in the pop music world every day. Among my musician friends it's always a big deal when something new comes along from the twisted minds of Becker-Fagan...refreshing. Recently a reviewer commented on how simple "Reelin' in the Years" was as a little pop song and all I could think was "really?!" Back then everyone in the working musician world I knew virtually stopped in their tracks and said, "who ARE those guys?" As for my own useless comparison exercise, Gaucho. A grammy for engineering and maybe my favorite guitar solo ever from Larry Carlton in "Third World Man." And for those who missed it...Walter Becker's "Circus Money" is astonishingly hip stuff.
FWTW...my impressions on first listen to "Sunken Condos": impeccable musicianship, arrangements, & production - but the songs? Kind of boring w/the exception of "Out of the Ghetto" (Isaac Hayes)and maybe, "Slinky Thing". Of course, quite often, a recording that does not immediately grab me on first listen becomes a favorite later on. Maybe that will be the case here. But I have a sense the pursuit of technical perfection has somewhat squeezed the life out of things in this recording. It doesn't always have to happen that way, but seems like a spark of some sort is missing from many of the tracks. Again, just my impression after a first listen. I'll be checking it out again for sure.
"Yes, I am biased because Steely Dan is my favorite band, so they could probably sing the phone book and I would like it, but this really is a very good new album."
Funny, with their obscure lyrics I have thought they might as well be singing the phone book! I'm saying this while admitting they're always at the top of my list.
I get the same "it's sterile but cool" reaction at first listening to anything from these guys and I've found that opinion always changes for the better as I warm up to it. "Condos" may or may not wind up as a fave, but I think the larger point beyond rating or comparison is that I can't find anything like this stuff...even at their most "sterile" it's just more fun for me than so much of what is out there. I listen to jazz mostly, and when I've used a new Fagan or Becker track when doing live sound testing (not uncommon among pro sound people), especially when doing a jazz show, the musicians notice and it always starts a conversation. Remember, jazz is mystifyingly relatively unpopular in general, and, agree or not, even the New York Times now describes Steely Dan as the premier touring jazz group. And the New York Times is always right...or left...something...
Todd K, don't be so surprised that others don't agree with you!!!
Wolf-garcia. Did you ever consider that your gf and myself have our own perceptions of what good pop music is??
I guess I should just suicide off my balcony because I don't like MTC. The album title is dumb, and the music insipid, despite one or two decent cuts. "NightFly" is a very good album, no complaints.
However, I think it is important to distinguish the music of Steely Dan from that of Donald Fagen. Fagen and Becker are brilliant composers, but the "Steely Dan" band is a changing collection of excellent studio musicians which seem to perform way beyond the sum of its parts.
For example, a much overlooked and underrated Dan studio album, (and if we must use superlatives) "Can't Buy a Thrill" is much MORE than just a diamond in the rough. It is a straight ahead rock and roll album but has the Dan quirky "musical persona" The studio band is outstanding, and David Palmer's vocal on "Brooklyn(Owes The Charmer Under Me)" elevates this ballad to ethereal heights. Ironically or tragically, the radio overplayed "Reelin In the Years" despite its catchy, driving rhythms "MAY BE" the weakest cut on the album....This statement should cause a shitstorm in this thread. Will have to check back later.
Hey Wolf - don't get me wrong. I am very much aboard the Steely Dan/Becker/Fagen bandwagon! Mediocre from them is only so by comparison to the better/best stuff of their own work. I do have to say I don't always have a "sterile" reaction to their music on first listen and also I am not yet calling Sunken Condos, mediocre. Might just take a while to warm up to it. As you point out, I do wish there were more bands working in whatever pop/rock/jazz/R&B genre "the Dan" has carved out over the decades. (BTW- I'm going to have to check out that September collaboration thing).
I guess you could call me a fan, I ordered the Japanese version of this new Fagen CD as soon as I heard about it. Unfortunately I have not had time to listen yet.
Warning, if you order from Japan there are two versions available, a made in Japan version and a import version (don't know where it comes from, maybe US?). Obviously you don't want to pay shipping etc. for a CD you could probably buy cheaper here.
Up to now "Nightfly" is definitely my favorite, probably will continue to be. I agree with Onhwy61, it's close to perfect, a masterpiece.
Sometimes it takes a while to warm to some songs because they're frequently more complex, both lyrically and musically, than your run of the mill shit kick'n rock'n'roll. If there's no catchy tune then it takes a little longer for me.
I have a feeling this one's going to be pretty good like "MTC" and "Kamakiriad", but not great like "Nightfly". Again, we'll see after I listen to this new one a few times.
Forgot to mention, I really like the cover art. Got me to thinking, how much depreciation on my $2,500,000 beach side condo after she goes under the waves from global warming?
On the bright side, we could think of all those buildings as artificial reefs. Probably provide good structure for the fish!
Well fortunately, I don't have to worry about that contingency. And if it gets me in Minnesota I guess we're all screwed. 8^)
Sunnyjim...clearly you have your own taste (!), but I fully expect everybody to agree with me all the time about everything, including you. Don't let me down...I'm very sensitive. I do have to note however that Fagan and Becker are all Steely Dan is really...they write, direct, chose the musicians, and pay for the pizza, and David Palmer has to be the Pete Best of "Danophelia". I watched Palmer lipsynch Fagen's lead vocal on a silly American Bandstand appearance...a great moment in the history of pop music embarassment.
Oh no...SARCASM! I forgot that Palmer was the first black president...I did like "24." As a vocalist for Steely Dan (a little over 40 years ago) Palmer's been pretty much relegated to trivia for most listeners as he has a somewhat forgettable voice compared to Fagan's weirdo voice, although it would seem sunnyjim (and the always reliable wikipedia) will keep his memory alive! I'll keep enjoying my gf, my Morph the Cat album, and sunnyjim should happily sit (apparently alone...*sigh*...) in his basement and que up his Teen Wolf video for some classic Palmer. See? It's all good...
Oh, poor wolf-man left howling at the moon when the gf splits because she is sick of listening to "Muffin the Cat" or "Merd, the Cat. or old Johnny Ray albums
I used Wikipedia so as not to strain your intellect. BTW, I don't sit alone in my basement. I usually sit on the beach at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii with several GF's It is going to be sunny and 85 tomorrow. Geez, what might the weather be in Transylvania, wolf-man. Stormy, I guess, and perfect for playing yet again "Minus the Cat" not "Sister Morphine" (Too dark, so you prefer the American Idol version of "Morph") Check out the Animal Planet cable station: There is a "My Cat From Hell" marathon next weekend. Maybe you could play some major tracks from "Morris the Cat" on the xylophone with Donald Fagen lip-synching the words.
I wish you don't choose to keep parceling out bits of your large ego on each exchange because your sarcasm will never succeed and you can't win.
My favorite Steely Dan/Walter Becker/Donald Fagen album is........whatever one I am listening to at the time. I am just grateful that these guys keep putting out recordings in this day of execrable sonic dreck. I have always loved these beat poets and their unorthodox take on things. The infectious melodies and top-rate recordings are just a plus.
I agree!! Let put's our guns away for another day.
Dan's lyrics are surely crytic, though not necessarily outrageous "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" is a great throw away line As if listening to a "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" will somehow mute the exchange of gunfire in a cozy suburban parlor
Fagen and Becker as "beat poets"; I guess so, if they are pushing 60 to 65. Maybe, they should written a rock opera using Allen Ginsberg monumental poem, "Howl". That would have been quite an interesting set of songs. The work may have run neck and neck with "Tommy", and the (non operatic) "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band"
I think Dan can bring a smile to anyone and not in the form of therapeutic pablum, by creating snapshots of quirky and also disturbing moments. "Katy Lied" and "The Royal Scam" lay a photo album on the coffee table and the listener( or viewer) can't turn away.
I think the Beatles did this the best starting with Revolver, SPLHCB, The White Album, and ending with Abbey Road. However, behind the harlequin mask, the lyrics in this chain of pop songs portends something ominous and troubling
Do you guys really think SC is a good sounding recording? I find everything, especially vocals, to have a muffled quality. The HD Trracks download is better in that regard.
So far, and I'm a huge fan of SD and DF, I find the album strong on grooves but weak, melodically. I'll see if I grows on me, though.
What I find a little disappointing about SC is, again, the lack of strong melodies, which adds to that "sameness," I think.
Look, the guy is an incredibly gifted composer and there are great songs on all his earlier solo albums:
Nightfly: Every melody is a gem; not a clunker on that whole album. "Maxine" and "Green Flower Street" are especially strong, IMHO.
Kamakiriad: "On The Dunes" is gorgeous, and the opening bars of "Springtime" are as lovely as anything he's ever written.
Morph: Strong title tune, and "The Night Belongs To Mona" is a truly remarkable song.
But again, what I find on SC is mostly catchy grooves... not much else. But I'm gonna keep listening to see if it grows me.
Just my 2 cents.
Reopening the case, Fagan competes with himself and can't win that one as he keeps sounding like Donald Fagan, but I think the album (CD) sounds great sonically with layers of funk buried in there, and I like the fact that all the songs have individual tonal makeup. Some recordings from "Dan et al" have this "spitty" cymbal tone that I find strange, but after a few listenings SC's weirdness is refreshing and the cymbals and everything else sounds nicely detailed on my system. For new stuff, what the hell else is out there? A note about "Fagan Faves", "Snowbound" on Kamakiriad has a fave GREAT bass tone.
I am also a big Steely Dan and Donald Fagen fan but haven't been able to warm up to this one. Other than the muffled midrange mentioned above, this LP has too much of a recycled quality, like we have heard these songs before. I remember one cut sounding amazingly like a song on SD Two Against Nature. Again, I always feel lucky when SD or DF release a new recording, but this one is too homogeneous and covers no new ground. Listen to recent releases by Paul Simon, The Cars, and the Doobie Brothers--all of them sound fresh and the cuts are not all woven from the same cloth. Maybe I will warm up to it with a few repeated listens.
Okay, I now own this album as a CD, a hi-res download from HDTracks and as an iTunes set. And I must say something that as a Steely Dan / Donald Fagen fanatic since my high school days, I never thought I'd say: I hate this record. The sonics - while best to my ears on the hi-res FLAC download, still sound muffled and muddy to me. (RIP Roger Nichols!) And the writing is so below what DF is capable of. What a bummer.
I think Fagen's guilty of setting the bar too high. 'Sunken Condos' is a good record, not great, and certainly not his best.
Rebbi, I'm left wondering why anyone would buy something THREE times and than profess to HATE the record?! Did you expect a different format to change your feelings about the music?
I've also found the that last several releases from SD/WB/DF have felt a bit too familiar to get really excited about. I doubt that these guys will ever release a real flat-out dog because there's just too much talent and too much "quirkiness" on hand, but they do seem to cover the same ground a bit too often for my taste.
OTOH, I do agree with Wolf re: 11 Tracks of Whack. I've probably spent more time with that one than with anything else SD/DF/WB has released.