13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2003
A new Steely Dan album and only a couple of years since the last one! This is one of those 'riches beyond the wildest dreams' scenarios. But how does it stack up? The last one, Two Against Nature, scooped four Grammy Awards in 2001, and Steely Dan were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.
Kicking off with 'The Last Mall' the guys are quickly off and running with a cool and confident opener. Production to these ears is just awesome, something that permeates the whole album. Is this something to do with the analogue recording and live tracking in the studio? Whatever, let's have more of it.
I should mention at this stage that the album comes in a number of formats and I can't wait to hear the DVD-Audio version which, if my plain old CD is anything to go by, must be an experience worth queuing up for.
'Things I Miss The Most' continues in a sad vein as Donald Fagen tells how he misses a whole host of things now that the love affair is over, but can't seem to bring himself to admit that he misses her most. Well that's my take on it anyway. I hope that Gary Clark (formerly of Danny Wilson fame) is listening, as this is the kind of song he should be surfacing with when he eventually decides to come out of his own self-imposed retirement.
Previous albums have had their lighter moments ('Cousin Dupree' as an example) and 'Blues Beach' fits that genre to perfection. Top down, cruising by the beach......bliss!
Throughout the album I keep hearing little links to the past and 'Godwhacker' takes me back to the 'Gaucho' era or perhaps Fagen's first solo album, 'The Nightfly'. Interesting instrumental break - reminiscent of Toots Thielman?
Next up is 'Slang Of Ages ' which is something that fans of Walter Becker's '11 Tracks of Whack' CD will welcome. Walter sings! Well, kind of. This slow, bluesy track is pretty much spoken rather than sung.
'Green Book' takes us into jazzier territory and again harks back to 'Nightfly' in feel. Great vocal and instruments - I'm really looking forward to hearing this one on DVD-Audio.
The more uptempo 'Pixeleen' takes us back to earlier, familiar Dan and that is no bad thing at all! The song displays a wonderfully evocative mix of classic Dan backing vocals and keyboards.
Funky hardly describes 'Lunch With Gina' and when the instrumental break arrives, the listener is transported all the way back to earlier albums like 'Can't Buy A Thrill'. Steely Dan is cooking with gas.
But the piece de resistance is the closer 'Everything Must Go'. A jazzy intro that pauses before we are into a tale of a sad closure - in this case a failed company.
Lots of space, some stretching out and cool vocals make this a standout performance of a great song.
So there we have it. Cool, confident and, dare I say it, a classic. Steely Dan has topped Two Against Nature. The million dollar question is, 'When's the next album due?'
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2003
First up, this is definitely a slow-burner, and to those who still don't appreciate it after 30+ listens, I expect it's a case of heightened expectations - especially if you're one of the loyal Steely Dan fans.
I initially played it twice a day for 3 solid weeks, got pretty fed up with it, gave it a rest for a week and then found myself pining deeply for it. It's now superglued into my deck and I'm humming the indelibly burned tunes and lyrics all day long.
As regards heightened expectations, it's difficult not to expect a stormer from the boys after relatively so long. They've certainly delivered, but it's a vastly different tack. We've just got to get used to it. Don't get me wrong - I can't begin to tell you how much I miss the session pro guitar solos and fills. Walter's nebulous noodling doesn't really come close. More drum dynamics coupled with more vocal doubling for Donald would also be good. He's not as clear or strong as he once was. I guess that's 'Nature Against One'...
But listen to me! What am I saying? This album obliterates anything else made in the last twenty years (including their previous album 'Two Against Nature') It's a masterpiece!
Each song has a story and the beauty of them is that the poetically hip lines leave you guessing as to the actual meaning. Hey presto - a different story every time. The music never wears out, complete with the intensely polymorphic imagery.
I guess jazz lovers like me will gravitate to numbers like 'Green Book'. This is as close to old Dan stuff that I've heard since Aja. Simply superb. Check out the imagery as he cruises through 'this dirty city': "The festive icons along the way, the boardwalk, the lovers, the house on fire".
Get out the lyric sheet and read what the female backing singer is singing in 'Pixeleen'. It's a complete story in itself.
'Lunch With Gina' is a really funky number about someone desperately avoiding a stalker that finally ends up with them having lunch together. The resigned protagonist then complains that the 'waiter never comes' and how the 'service could be better'.
If you're a fan and you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having bought but not liking this album, I just know you're secretly delighted by this new offering. In years to come you'll dig it out and cry 'What planet was I on? - this is classic!'.
If you're not a fan - buy it and find yourself slowly but inextricably drawn into Donald and Walter's alter-world.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2003
As a dedicated Dan fan, I was both overjoyed and slightly apprehensive to receive my copy in the post. The last album, Two Against Nature, was good, but compared with the 70's classics it was a tad lacking in catchy hooks. They got the Grammys, but I suspect people were just glad to see them again. It was a good album (compared to most other stuff, it was a work of genius) but hardly their best. (Donald Fagen suffered writer's block after The Nightfly, and still seemed to have it with Kamakiriad. And while the Becker solo effort was truly excellent, TAN seemed more in the Kamakiriad mould.)
But I can say that they seem to have their juices flowing once more, with some really grooving tracks and great lyrics ("I'm building the Andria Doria out of balsa wood" cracks me up every time as a witty summation of the dumped male's desparation, especially with the twist Fagen puts on it while singing the line in The Things I Miss The Most).
The feel is a bit more like one of their earlier 70's albums, such as Katy Lied or The Royal Scam, with most of the songs fairly short and sweet rather than sprawling out like some of their later works. And the tunes have returned, although they are perhaps a bit twistier than they used to be. The best tracks are probably Blues Beach, Pixeleen and Everything Must Go, with Green Book and Godwhacker coming up close (although it's a matter of personal taste - as with all Steely Dan albums, some songs are better than others, it's just that the really good ones are better than everybody else's).
So why just 4 stars? One of the joys for me of the earlier albums was the sheer quality of the instumental work, especially some of the tastiest solos (Reelin' In the Years, Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Kid Charlemagne, Peg, Deacon Blues) I ever heard. Becker and Fagen now basically do the solos and, well, they are ok, but hardly god-like. And I think that is the ingredient which this effort (and also the previous) lacks. The musicianship is excellent - but it doesn't blow you away in the same fashion that the old stuff used to. And I miss that a bit.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2005
'Everything Must Go' is a brilliant in everywhere and if had been produced by some scuzz metal band from an obscure town, they would be hailed as the saviours of grown up music. Thing is that nobody younger than middle aged, could ever produce an album like this. Sure it's laid back with a jaded, some might say cynical slant on life, but it's also great fun and a pleasure on the old aural facilities. This is great, in the same way that Seniors Golf is regarded as great by some sports fans. It may not have the energy and full on enthusiasm of the younger man's game, but it has a wealth of experience, skill and wry humour, which is often lacking from the work of mainstream players. They cannot need the money, so this must be two guys doing something, solely because they love it. Boy does it sound like it. If you're still hesitating dont'; dive in and soak it up! Can't wait for the next album- probably be jazz tango or something!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2004
This album hit me straight away. '2VN' took a little longer. It seems like with 'Everything Must Go' they are moving towards punchier groovier catchier jazz-tinged pop songs that have more of an instant appeal. These newer songs seem to make more sense too in comparison with 70s Steely Dan, i.e. lyrics are less cryptic and can be taken more literally (although its probably all an illusion). My favourite tracks are 'godwhacker' with its infectious groove, 'pixeleen' and the funky 'lunch with gina'. These three tracks alone justify buying the album - who in their right mind could resist indulging in many repeated listens (of all of it - it's all great).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2004
Looking back at this list, I was surprised to find how mellow and melancholy-drenched so many of my best-of-the-year choices have been. It may be that the world has witnessed so much violence and blind enmity growing like ivy everywhere, or simply that so much of what's been hailed lacks enough substance, period. Steely Dan may be an exception to this although, if you get beneath the tight rhythms and flawless arrangements, you'll find the expected New York dark poetry and sarcastic insight that made them so unique a sound and voice in contemporary music. This may not be the kind of masterpiece that Aja was but, given the amount of big-budget crap released this year, it easily distinguished itself as one of the best CDs of this year, and one of the few bands that should not need to be ashamed of another come-back album.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2011
This is not going to be a long winded review; not much to say, overall. This is a very enjoyable album. Their least enjoyable, both in terms of style and quality, in my opinion. Their first seven albums showcased a constant evolution to the point of Gaucho where they were effectively an atmospheric, loungey-type jazz-rock unit, with little of the rock: not something I minded; band has to keep changing after all, and despite less of an overt FOCUS on melodies, they were still throwing up some real crackers. Two against nature was an great return: their least consistent effort up to that point, but a HIGHLY enjoyable album none the less: good combination of styles: had the laid back nature of where they left off, but with a bit more focus on catchiness and melody again: This album is not much like TWO at all: it attempts a rockier, punchier sound similar to, say, Pretzel, or Katy lied, but does not really have the strong melodies to back it up: the band could make the more atmospheric stuff sound intersting just by their instrumentation, but with rockier, more up-beat material like this, there has to be something a bit less basic and a mite more melodious there, which, for the most part their isn't: not that it's bad: far from it: songs are uniformly enjoyable, but rarely reach the heights of past glories, and that included Two against nature: the album works well when it plays more overt, poppy stuff such as lunch with Gina and Pixeleen, but for the most part, it seems perfectly content to rumble on, mid pace, with enjoyable if unremarkable vocals and instrumentation. So not really anything bad about this album, but it feels noticeably lazier than Fagen and Becker's other works, the songwriting in particular seems lazier, something which is made more noticeable, in my opinion, by the attempted rockier feel of it, which, as I said before, needs stronger material to keep it afloat and interesting than more atmospheric-based stuff might.
To sum up, there are great moments (godwhacker, pixeleen, lunch with gina are all crackers, imo, and no song could count as bad, plus Beckers moment behind the mic I actually found quite effective), but overall it feels artistically and quality wise a bit "Meh", like they just made what they thought a Dan album should sound like rather than made any effort with it: So, again, good not great: Dan fan? still buy it, obviously, but dont expect THAT much from it: for a better Steely Dan album from around this general period, check out the fantastic Morph the cat.
Fave song: pixeleen
Least fave: The last mall
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If this had been Steely Dan’s comeback album I’d be raving about it. Unfortunately, it was preceded by that work of genius, "Two Against Nature". Having been spoilt rotten by the joys of that album, it’s inevitable that sooner or later a little disappointment would come along. If you bought Kamakiriad after The Nightfly, you’ll understand what I’m getting at. But not to worry! Perfection would not be perfection if you had it all the time.
Everything Must Go is still an excellent album and contains some brilliant songs, particularly the middle four tracks, namely Godwhacker, Slang of Ages, Green Book (probably my favourite) and the wonderful Pixeline, surely a mega-hit song if the radio could be bothered to play it. DJ’s, huh? The lyrics, as ever, stretch the boundaries of enigma, intrigue and general coolness but the instrumentation on this album is somewhat sparser than that of its predecessor. Becker’s guitar fills are the delight we’ve become accustomed to, but there’s less sax, little brass, no vibes and the drums are not quite so crisp-sounding. As usual, there’s a good variety of keyboards, with “Green Book” featuring a swirly Hammond-esque “underwater” organ sound and a grittier-than-usual guitar break featuring some clever exchanges between Becker and the supporting guitarist, and “Breakfast with Gina” featuring a Fagen finger-stabbing synth solo which sounds like an overdriven Stylophone. In a rare vocal outing, Becker sings the lead on the superb “Slang of Ages”, in that bluesy half-spoken drawl of his.
As a whole, Everything Must Go is a bit more soul/pop and a bit less funk/jazz than 2AN, with Fagan stretching his voice a note or two higher than he usually does and the female backing vocals just a touch more prominent. So … the Dan tread water a teeny bit here, but having been a fan for thirty years (Leeds Uni, 1973, anyone?), I can forgive that. Personally I’d like to see them stretching the jazzier end, getting a bit more edgy, a bit more Steely, rather than backing off as they’ve done with this album. If you’ve yet to buy either album, get this one first, relish it awhile, then go get Two Against Nature for even deeper joy. I can’t wait for the next one, which of course I will purchase without needing to hear first. Just as well, for there would be little point in switching on the radio.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2015
Steely Dan releases will always be good, just because of the musicianship and quality of writing skills. But it has to be said can they not be so predictable in the songs. One album runs into the other no matter how much time has elapsed between them. Of corse they have their followers that will not move either to something different or more interesting, and to be honest who can blame them. Steely Dan have been and are good from their beginning till now.
This does have a very slightly different background sound in the way in which it approaches its laid back music. Not quit as normal, I just cannot put my finger on it, a sort of confidence I've not heard here before.
Many will convince themselves of how the band have moved on and progressed through time, but the truth is, if so not much. But then why should they. Well in my book to have some believe in themselves, because we all should improve on what ever we do.
But to finish, yes this is still good music and deserves to be heard.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2003
A new Steely Dan album and only a couple of years since the last one! This is one of those ‘riches beyond the wildest dreams’ scenarios. But how does it stack up? The last one, Two Against Nature, scooped four Grammy Awards in 2001, and Steely Dan were inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
Kicking off with ‘The Last Mall’ the guys are quickly off and running with a cool and confident opener. Production to these ears is just awesome, something that permeates the whole album. Is this something to do with the analogue recording and live tracking in the studio? Whatever, let’s have more of it.
I should mention at this stage that the album comes in a number of formats and I can’t wait to hear the DVD-Audio version which, if my plain old CD is anything to go by, must be an experience worth queuing up for.
‘Things I Miss The Most’ continues in a sad vein as Donald Fagen tells how he misses a whole host of things now that the love affair is over, but can’t seem to bring himself to admit that he misses her most. Well that’s my take on it anyway. I hope that Gary Clark (formerly of Danny Wilson fame) is listening, as this is the kind of song he should be surfacing with when he eventually decides to come out of his own self-imposed retirement.
Previous albums have had their lighter moments (‘Cousin Dupree’ as an example) and ‘Blues Beach’ fits that genre to perfection. Top down, cruising by the beach……bliss!
Throughout the album I keep hearing little links to the past and ‘Godwhacker’ takes me back to the ‘Gaucho’ era or perhaps Fagen’s first solo album, ‘The Nightfly’. Interesting instrumental break - reminiscent of Toots Thielman?
Next up is ‘Slang Of Ages ‘ which is something that fans of Walter Becker’s ’11 Tracks of Whack’ CD will welcome. Walter sings! Well, kind of. This slow, bluesy track is pretty much spoken rather than sung.
‘Green Book’ takes us into jazzier territory and again harks back to ‘Nightfly’ in feel. Great vocal and instruments – I’m really looking forward to hearing this one on DVD-Audio.
The more uptempo ‘Pixeleen’ takes us back to earlier, familiar Dan and that is no bad thing at all! The song displays a wonderfully evocative, classic mix of classic Dan backing vocals and keyboards.
Funky hardly describes ‘Lunch With Gina’ and when the instrumental break arrives, the listener is transported all the way back to earlier albums like ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’. Steely Dan is cooking with gas.
But the piece de resistance is the closer ‘Everything Must Go’. A jazzy intro that pauses before we are into a tale of a sad closure – in this case a failed company.
Lots of space, some stretching out and cool vocals make this a standout performance of a great song.
So there we have it. Cool, confident and, dare I say it, a classic. Steely Dan has topped Two Against Nature. The million dollar question is, ‘When’s the next album due?’