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  • Aja
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 June 2004
I can remember sitting a car in 1977 when the song 'Deacon Blues' came on the radio. I was instantly mesmerised. Having never heard Steely Dan before I was amazed by the quality and feel of both the song and the recording. I immediately went out and bought the 'LP'. It was this that started my love of the music of Messers Becker and Fagen.
If you are considering your first SD purchase... THIS IS THE ONE TO GET. Don't muck around with those compilations that. Steely Dan albums must be listened to in their original context.
It is solid testament to Aja that it hit the streets slap bang in the middle of the 'Punk' era, a musical movement that was championed by the 'New Musical Expresss', yet, in their review the NME hailed Aja as one of the all time great albums with possibly the greatest 'side 1' of any album ever released. (Remember 'side ones'?)
Side one actually comprised of three musical masterpieces; Black Cow, Aja and Deacon Blues and even now, 25 odd years later I am hearing new things in these songs, especially on the newly remastered release. Side 2 isn't bad either. Peg, Home at Last, I've got the News and Josie are all fantastic offerings.
As well as the superb songwriting and mind blowing lyrics watch out for virtuoso performances from the likes of Wayne Shorter, Steve Gadd, Chuck Rainey and Larry Carlton as well as the amazing vocals of Fagen and the backing vocals (including Mike McDonald). The slick production of Gary Katz tops it all off.
"This is the day of the expanding man, that shape is my shade, there where I used to stand"...classic!
An absolute masterpiece.
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on 30 April 2002
If you were not around in the 70's and have heard that Steely Dan are worth discovering you could do no wrong in buying this beautifully crafted piece of work that features some of the slickest US session guys around. I recall this album being used as a hi fi show piece when it came out and it still stands out as a fine recording - tastefully remastered by the duo themselves in recent times. If you want to hear a little bit of jazz sneaking into your music this is a great introduction. The stand out tracks are the title track and Black Cow. Steve Gadds famous drum fade out at the end of Aja being one of the high points of the bands career. The album closes with Josie which is cool beyond cool. If you are wondering about Steely Dan, start with this and then buy all the albums - they are all gems. Aja does not quite have that lyrical streetwise savy found on Katy Lied and Countdown to Ectasy, but it marks a high point in the Steely Dan collection as a work of outstanding musical genius and a showcase for the talent of those reluctant maestro's Messrs Fagen & Becker.
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on 13 November 2002
The music contained on this album does not fit in any neat and tidy box.

What can you say about it? is it jazz, is it pop? is it music? in one word "YES" it's all of this and more.

"The men from Dan" used some of the best session men in music business to record this, rehearsing and playing these guys within an inch of their lives!

It shows for contained of this album not only is music but audio art.

Of course Becker and Fagan did all the remastering themselves and what great job they have done, they are such control freaks, who can blame with music of this standard.

For all you Dan freaks out there who didn't buy the first C.D. release because of poor sound forget that buy this version with confidence, it is WOW!! in terms of sound and content
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on 26 September 2012
I am an up front Dan freak. I've got all of their albums including Becker's solo stuff. I bought this because it was there, not expecting much, as I already had the AJA cd from ages back.
I must say I'm blown away with the sound on this. I can truly hear bells and whistles I hadn't heard on the standard cd. If you haven't bought AJA (if not why not??) this is the version to get - it's cheap enough too - way to go, enjoy the delights of these guys at the top of their game in their studio bliss.
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on 13 November 2009
If you love music as I do then you cannot miss this album out of your collection. Yes it is Jazz influenced , but is also rock, pop and everything else influenced. The title track alone is worth the price of admission. It features Steve Gadd on drums and has the best recorded drum break ever committed to disc. I have had this album since it was first released and listen to it regularly-it still makes my hair stand on end and shivers down my spine. It is THAT good. The Dan never actually made a bad or even indifferent album (Katy Lied is my least favourite-but it's still great). I have them all and wish I could hear them again for the first time. If I had to choose just one to keep then it would be Aja and Gaucho (sorry one would never do!!!). Buy , buy buy. And then buy Becker's solo albums and Fagen's solo output-also superb quality music for the discerning listener.
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on 29 May 2014
I've had Aja on vinyl for years, and then also on CD, it being one of my all time favourite Steely Dan albums, so I was looking forward to playing this 180gm audiophile version. Well I wasn't disappointed - the moment the stylus hit the lead in - silence. No pops, crackles or hisses. As there's not a duff track throughout, I'll describe the general presentation with it's widely spread sound stage, clear separation and superb placement of instruments and vocals, the pressing is outstanding.

To put everything into perspective I'll give you a rundown of my modest equipment set up. Rega Planar 3, RB300 arm with Michell Technoweight, Ortofon Red MM cartridge, Audiolab 8000A amp, VDH The Clearwater cables and MS 208s Speakers.

Even if you already own the album on vinyl, I'm confident that you wouldn't be disappointed with this version - I only wish I could obtain a similar version of 'Gaucho' for a reasonable price.
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on 5 August 2016
This is The Dan's masterpiece. From the opening sounds of funkier-than-thou Black Cow to the closing refrains of Josie, it mesmerises throughout. Although criticised for using session musicians at the time, it's difficult to see how anything less would have worked so well. I met Tom Scott, who did the horn arrangements, in London to play a solo show, and he said, "You know, they asked me to do their horn charts and I knew they were perfectionists so I wasn't sure if they'd just send me home on a platter. Luckily they liked what I did."
And contributions from Weather Report's Wayne Shorter, Paul Simon's Steve Gadd et al sparkle too.
A highly poetic, even romantic album, those who say you can never love The Dan are so wrong - Deacon Blues is one of the most heart-wrenching songs you'll ever hear. And the whole thing takes you to another place - somewhere, as melancholic as it is, that you kinda want to stay. That's just genius.
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on 31 May 2012
I think I first discovered this album probably about 1981 a few years after it was released, some people think that it is too slick, too perfect, which is exactly what it is a perfect studio production of a selection of wonderfully crafted songs, especially the title track 'Aja' a cool mixture of jazz and laid back west coast rock, some great harmonies by Micheal Mcdonald who's distinctive strained tenor sounds like a Hammond organ, the percussion is second to none in fact the musicianship of the whole album is excellent. The album has a distinctive Californian sound even though it was recorded in New York. I still listen to it today and enjoy it as much as I did when I first herd it [ tittle track got me interested in modern jazz ] . Also if your a fan you may like to hear this New York Rock & Soul Revue and Aja - Classic Albums [DVD] [2009] .
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on 6 May 2013
Regarded by many as the finest of Steely Dan's albums (although my personal favourite is Royal Scam), Aja does much to live up to its reputation some 36 years on. In that time it has remained one of those albums which I have been meaning to buy, but never got round to doing so until recently. I was familiar with the title track and "Deacon Blues", but having been recommended the album I finally decided to go for it. Absolutely no regrets! Other highlights include "Home At Last" which includes drummer Bernard Purdie with his famous "Purdie Shuffle" and "Josie" with a great Jim Keltner groove from behind the kit. In truth, there isn't a dull track here and the fact that there are only 7 demonstrates Becker and Fagan's dedication to producing only what they considered the best quality listening experience. A recently repeated TV documentary on how they made the album was interesting viewing, showing bassist Chuck Rainey, backing singer Michael McDonald and another of the session drummers Rick Marotta also explaining their input. If, like me you have held off for 36 years, end that wait now and buy this!
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on 8 October 2001
Having proved their superior credentials throughout the seventies, the Dan found themselves retired from the stressful tour scene, with countless hours of studio time on their hands in much the same way as the Beatles had in the mid sixties. The fab four relished the lack of constraints and went on to produce their best work sans tour-bus. The same can be said for this unlikely duo. If Aja was a car, it would be a classic hand-crafted machine, finely tuned, slick, lightning fast and sporty yet maintaining an air of style, class and panache. Each component having been fastidiously assembled with incredible attention to detail. Much was made of the all star cast that contributed to this seminal masterpiece, but to simplify it this way would be a mistake. Aja is the piece de resistance of Steely Dan's celebrated output. True musical magic is created here, the whole is worth exponetially more than the sum of it's parts. If you have any interest in finding how the often polarised principles of musical talent and songwriting talent can be fused together in a bubble of listening pleasure, then look no further. - Dan Serpico
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