4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of Steely Dan's best three albums,
This review is from: Gaucho (Audio CD)
Steely Dan's undisputed peak was Aja and The Royal Scam is a close second but, for me, Gaucho is the only other great album they made, although even Fagen & Becker agree that they may have gone too far with it.
Interestingly given the obsessive perfectionism (and bad luck) that plagued this album, it features fewer session players than previous albums, and Becker & Fagen perform on more tracks.
Babylon Sisters is as good as anything Becker & Fagen ever recorded. Bernard Purdie's drums are incredible (and were the basis of Jeff Pocaro's famous Rosanna beat), but there are amazing details in what is an apparantly minimal arrangement, including bass clarinets, muted clavinet, as a serpentine chord progression that no one else could have dreamed up. It's also extremely funky!
Hey Nineteen is borderline embarassing - the humour just on the wrong side of funny - and features Roger Nichols' peculiarly static Wendel drum sequencer programme, even though a drummer is credited (as is the case with Glamour Profession and My Rival).
Glamour Profession lasts rather longer than the musical interest can sustain but is rescued by an amazing guitar solo by Steve Khan.
Gaucho is, along with Babylon Sisters and Third World Man, one of the three great tracks here. It has a Keith Jarrett inspired chord sequence and solo tenor sax line (for which the erascible Mr Jarrett sued & won a share of the writing credit) but again it has a deceptively simple arrangement and extremely funny lyrics about a socially aspirant queen and his partner who is unduly interested in a bit of Brazilian rough.
Time Out Of Mind is famous for the lack of anything meaningful being played by the star guitar soloist Mark Knopfler, who clearly couldn't meet the impossible expectations of the jazz inclined composers. Great backing vocals from Michael MacDonald.
My Rival is the weakest track on the album but, that said, is better than much of what appears on everyone else's records. It's a chugging Wendel sequenced affair about an inadequate cuckold.
Third World Man is the saddest tune Becker & Fagen have written and reminds me of The Deer Hunter. It's also one of their most conventional charts, but is more affecting because of that - the simplicity also evokes a sense of emotional honesty which Becker & Fagen often mask in urbane sophistication and caustic sarcasm.
The album is beautifully recorded and doesn't sound dated like many 1980 albums do, although the overal effect is heading towards the much brighter cocaine mixes of the 1980s which are now so unlistenable.
This was, apart from Fagen's The Nightfly, the end of the classic Steely Dan period - the post-apotheosis of their obsession - the moment they passed out the back of the mirror and after which they could only see the reflection of their backs. Buy it and hear the sound of perfectionism ad absurdum.
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Initial post: 11 Jan 2011 09:40:39 GMT
M. McDaid says:
yeah! Keith Jarrett's ecm record: Belonging, 1974. Put to good use on Gaucho I thought; better than Knopfler's self-conscious transatlantic gtr doodlings, though (all in a name?) Perhaps when one [or two] pass out the back of the mirror they dont have to strain the old neck to see the reflection of just how big that bum has got (in the post-apotheosis of their obsession). I like it!
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