Steely Dan has always been a vehicle for the immense songwriting talents of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. The duo first met at college in New York in 1967, played together in local bands and, after graduation, moved to Brooklyn; there they tried to hawk their compositions in Manhattan's legendary Brill Building. They achieved a modicum of success - some material was included on the soundtrack to a Richard Pryor movie and Barbra Streisand recorded their song, I Mean To Shine in 1971. Next, the duo came to the attention of Gary Katz, a producer for ABC Records in Los Angeles, who hired them initially as songwriters. He quickly realised however that the best option for Donald and Walter would be to perform their idiosyncratic songs themselves and he thus encouraged the pair to form their own group. To the record company s horror the collective moniker they chose for this enterprise just happened to be the name of a dildo featured in William S. Burroughs' novel 'The Naked Lunch', but they got away with it and the name stuck. They recruited guitarists Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter and Denny Dias and drummer Jim Hodder. David Palmer was added as a singer as Becker's own vocals were not, initially, considered strong enough. The band's first album, 1972's 'Can't Buy A Thrill' was a stunning accomplishment and spawned two hit singles: Do It Again and Reelin' In The Years (both included here) which reached numbers 6 and 11 respectively on the Billboard singles chart. By the time the follow-up, 'Countdown To Ecstasy' (1973) was recorded, David Palmer was relegated to backing vocals, before completely leaving the band, as a now more confident Becker assumed the lead vocal role permanently. Bodhisattva and The Boston Rag were particular highlights and both received substantial FM radio airplay. Due in part to Fagen's reluctance to sing onstage and he and Becker's ingrained perfectionism, Steely Dan played relatively few live concerts during the early 1970's - in fact by 1975 they had given up touring entirely. This superb live broadcast recording is, therefore, something of a rarity; not only does it showcase the very best of the songs from Steely Dan's first three albums, it also features This All Too Mobile Home, a number that was never recorded in the studio. Furthermore, the remarkable version of Your Gold Teeth II included here is substantially different to that later released on the album 'Katy Lied' (1975). The intro is similar but in this broadcast version the track continues as a lengthy instrumental extension of the opening riff, quite unlike the poppier, vocal version later released. This concert was part of a tour in support of Steely Dan's third album, Pretzel Logic , which had been released a month earlier, in February 1974. In addition to the title track, also performed are Rikki Don't Lose That Number - which peaked at number 4 on Billboard and is the band's most successful single to date - and the infectious Any Major Dude Will Tell You. Fleshing out the sound of the core studio group onstage is a trio of additional musicians: drummer Jeff Porcaro, vocalist-percussionist Royce Jones and vocalist-keyboardist Michael McDonald - soon to join and transform the fortunes of the Doobie Brothers. Following this tour, Fagen & Becker broke up the band, ceased touring and relied exclusively on hired musicians for their subsequent studio recordings. It would be another 20 years before Steely Dan hit the road again, thus this excellent radio broadcast preserves a rare instance of a great band performing at the very pinnacle of their career.
Classic early live radio broadcast taped at the Record Plant in Los Angeles on March 20, 1974