10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2009
In my humble opinion the greatest album ever made.I can play this every day and not get bored of it,there's always something new that you hear.
Every track a winner but my favourite is New Frontier-just love the harmonica at the end.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A great solo effort from (arguably) the more talented half of the excellent Steely Dan. An outstanding album from beginning to end, with the only crticisim being that it's too damn short! Love Don's cover of "Ruby Ruby", but my particular favourite is the well-observed "New Frontier".
Had this on a dreadful audio tape for years before spotting it on Amazon. The songs are still as strong as I remember them. No weak tracks at all - you have to sit through the whole 39 minutes! Reeks quality from start to finish. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2005
Five stars really aren't enough, are they? Fagen and Steely Dan producer Gary Katz wrestled with early digital recording technology to create something that stands apart from every pop, rock and jazz album you've ever heard. It's not hard to tell from most other reviewers that this record has a very special emotional significance for a lot of people, and I'm among them. The supreme irony is that with sequencers, synths and primitive drum machines - plus the cream of 1970-80's session talent, or course - Fagen created a uniquely evocative mood piece where every note weighs heavy with nostalgia for a time that most of this album's fans have never even lived through. I won't add to the superlatives... I'll just re-state them. This ranks as one of the finest musical achievements of this or any decade.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2006
Fabulous, sublime, a magnificent collection, still great after twenty years.
One or two details - may I just draw your attention to the wonderful Michael Brecker tenor solo on "Maxine"? or the little fragments of harmonica / electric piano at the end of "New Frontier"? Or the superb changes in the middle eight in "The Nightfly"?
Will he ever make another record as damn near perfect as this?
Listening to "Morph the Cat" twenty odd eyars later there are positive signs. Have a listen to the "The Great Pagoda of Funn"... he's nearly there!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2012
Bought this album more-or-less on release (December 1982, aged 19), solely due to a virtually hagiographic review from the sadly-late Richard Cook in the NME. I'd never heard of Fagen, though I had heard of Steely Dan, but had never knowingly heard any of their material (though later listening experience suggests that, like many, the likes of "Reelin' In The Years" and "Do It Again" had permeated into my subconscious).
I can understand some of the charges levelled against this album and Steely Dan in general: it is more than a little smart-arse, arch, knowing (perhaps a little too intelligent for some?); more than a little "well-produced". [And we won't even touch on the fact that splendidly moustachioed guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter ended up chairing a US Congress Advisory Board on missile defence (or defense): how on earth did that come to pass?)
But for heaven's sake: this is just great. It sounds beautiful, if that's important to you; the songs are great, and the arrangements, and the playing. Basically, it swings its little backside off, from first to last, and is an utterly wonderful and essential record. Don't listen to the trolls: listen to the record.
[P.S. while I'm damned sure that in the early 80s Richard Cook was the only reviewer I pretty near trusted implicitly, the only other album I can remember buying because of one his reviews is John Cale's harrowing "Music For A New Society". Look that up as well.]
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2006
Superlatives just aren't enough sometimes. "The Nightfly" is such a magical combination of exquisite lyrics, impeccable harmony and flawless studio production that I can say that this is the only album that I know of that has no weaknesses at all. I've listened to the thing probably a thousand times in the last twenty years and it just gets better each time. Greg Phillinganes's piano solo on "Ruby Baby" is stunning; Michael Brecker's sax solo on "Maxine" is jaw-dropping : the list goes on an on.
A track that I particulary like is the eponymous "The Nightfly". It tells the story of a lonely, late-night radio host called Lester who runs a 'phone-in show:
"You say that there's a race
Of men in the trees.
You're for tough legislation.
Thanks for calling.
I wait all night for calls like these."
The chorus (and this is why Donald Fagen is a genius) is based around a radio jingle for the station WJAZ ("at the foot of Mount Belzoni"!). It's such a wonderful dove-tailing of theme and music. How many recording artists have ideas like this?
Total and utter perfection.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2006
Such quality music is rare to find. Donald Fagen is the sound of Steely Dan and this album illustrates his rare talents beautifully. The first of his solo albums, it is difficult to single out individual tracks as stars - I.G.Y.; The Nightfly and The Goodbye Look are particularly good but actually the entire album is such a pleasure to listen to. If you are a Dan fan you will love this but it is a must for anyone's collection.
It says something that every review to date gives this recording 5 stars.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2004
In between recording with "Walter Becker" the seminal albums "Aja" and "Gaucho" under the banner of "Steely Dan", Donald Fagen recorded this masterpiece of audio art.
The a fore mentioned album called the "The Nightfly" runs at less than 40 minutes long and has 7 self-penned tracks and has 1 track written by the legendary song-writing partnership of "Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, their song "Ruby Baby" is clearly the most commercial sounding on the whole album, the collection was arranged by "Donald Fagen" and on production duties was the same producer as the man who had produced all the "Steely Dan" recordings "Gary Katz".
As the album opens up with the track "I.G.Y." (International Geophysical Year) the "electric piano" playing of "Greg Phillinganes" he creates a retro sound that he manages to duplicate on all the tracks he plays on which is half of the tracks here.
The album if the sleeve notes are to be believed is the dreams of a young man growing up in a remote suburb of a northeastern city during the late 50's and early 60's about the same general height and weight and build as "Mr Fagen"
The problem I have with this album in its current incarnation on C.D. is that the disc that is currently available it has not been re-mastered; a lot of the delicate little touches have been lost that you were quite clearly able hear before on vinyl. I must put forward the case for the artist to go back to the studio and do some sonic renovation so that this classic from the early 80's can be heard as it's meant to be heard.
In closing a great album let down by the current pressing, which is a shame the album is superb and deserves better...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2012
This is an astonishing recording full of mini-documentary vignettes from a song writer dissecting petite film noires from the mind of a supposed insomniac. As a musician (mainly bass, some guitar) the cast of supporting acts complements Fagen superbly.
During the setting up of live rigs, many engineers use IGY as a reference point for how good a job they have done as it contains the perfect mix of bottom, middle and top with barely perceptible vignettes filling the gaps.
There is not a poor song on this album, it flows from one story to another, gently visiting the lives and hopes of an abstract cast pouring from Fagen's observations and imagination.
Perfect for a drive and great for massaging away the stresses of a poor week, I commend this work of art to you all without reservation.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2002
As with other great composers of the past , if Donald Fagen never does anything else again before he departs this life , in 'The Nightfly' he has left his mark.Everything about this album is right, the concept of the songs centred around a late night DJ in late 50's or early 60's in a northeastern USA city tells a social history story of that period USA in itself - brilliantly brought back to life by the genius of Donald Fagens songs and the one cover song(The Drifters Ruby Baby), and what absolutely marvellous songs they are too! 'IGY'(International Geophysical Year) for instance is a fabulous opener to the album,which bounces along joyiously and builds up to wonderful finishing upbeat and uplifting crescendo! The IGY was something that actually took place in the years 1957/1958,basically,scientists from all over the world endeavoring to push the boundaries of human intellect, discovery, and technologies etc etc.But then again,without exception the rest of the album is brilliant to!Each song telling a story of life and certain'fantasies' of the future that people of that time had,hav'nt we all done that in our own lives at some point? What a great idea of Donald's to include it some marvellously constructed songs.Even the cover song sounds like a Fagen original that fits in beautifully.Included with this is the stunning musicianship of all the musicians involved,and the top notch production, it's got it all,wonderful stuff!
The album cover is also marvellous at conveying visually what 'The Nightfly' story concept is.As DF has himself stated, in the suburbia where teenagers were growing up then, there was not much to do. But they did have radio(many pirate) stations that played jazz music,that they could tune in to.The front cover shows the fictional DJ 'The Nightfly',(posed by DF himself) with a copy of the album by the saxophanist Sonny Rollins -'The Contemporary Leaders'. This visually depicts the jazz music of what 'The Nightfly' is about, and an influential artist and record of that period of American Jazz.I can envisage some artist in the future doing the same with 'The Nightfly' Album' and placing it on their album cover! The DJ's 'Chesterfield Kings' cigarettes are also shown,as namechecked in the Nightfly songtrack! The back cover shows a typical suburban house in the early hours, of that period, showing a lit bedroom/window, suggesting perhaps where the radio show and 'The Nightfly' is transmitting from,or is it a listener? You be the judge!Whilst all this is almost entirely American in it's sentiments,UK citizens can easily draw a parallel to events in the UK from the same time period. Another reviewer has stated this is the greatest album ever made!I will simply say that'The Nightfly'is a popular music masterpiece of an album , that will endure through the years, and is a benchmark on which others who follow will be judged against.