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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth blows the Don, 15 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Sunken Condos (Audio CD)
You know exactly what to expect from Donald Fagen: that distinctive nasal whine, unpredictable chord changes, jazzy grooves galore, acerbic lyrics (some very nice stabs at self-deprecation here), and some top-notch horn arrangements, all expertly packaged and smoothly (if at times a little too smoothly) delivered by a band as tight as the proverbial you-know-what.

It's never been particularly easy to draw a neat dividing line between Don and Dan, but for a band notorious for its meticulous (if not downright obsessive) attention to detail Fagen brings an unexpected lightness of touch to "Sunken Condos", perhaps the result of having shared production duties with long-time cohort Michael Leonhart.

For all that, the album boasts some notable Danesque moments - the bluesy "Weather In My Head" and "Miss Marlene" two strong examples.

Some highly elegant soloing elevates tracks such as "Memorabilia" and "Planet D'Rhonda" whilst a surprising choice of cover in Isaac Hayes' "Out of the Ghetto" is deconstructed and given the full DF treatment but survives to tell the tale, dropping another memorable solo along the way.

For an artist into his fifth decade of making music it's hardly surprising that parts of this album should sound a tad familiar. "Good Stuff" borrows both melody and rhyme scheme from "Two Against Nature" whilst "The New Breed" has strong overtones of "Janie Runaway".

A little more grit would have been welcome but by and large "Sunken Condos" comfortably maintains Fagen's proud quality-control standards, even if ultimately it breaks little new ground.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Nov 2012, 16:37:08 GMT
nofuture says:
Boulder dash!!!!!!!!!!!!!! have you never listened to his earlier work? His vocal performance on the eighties Trouble Funk album was top draw and reminiscent of Mary Hopkins' finest. The baritone clarinet juxtaposed with the incessant beats as played by Lord McAlpine remain in my head long after the memory of seeing him carrying a horses head round to the House of Commons. It remains to be seen if Don/Dan is in the same league as James from X Factor "possibly the most talented artist since the last commercial break".

So Leonardo27 after that stiff rebuke... I trust you'll be doing your research before uttering any further comments about Donald Becker.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Nov 2012, 18:33:49 GMT
Leonardo27 says:
Whatever medication you're on, I think you need to increase the dosage.

Posted on 1 Jan 2013, 11:49:07 GMT
KaleHawkwood says:
Excellent review - and I love your review title! (Wonder how many get the allusion.)

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013, 12:51:54 GMT
Extroverthermit, you idiot. McAlpine had nothing to do with Trouble Funk. You're surely getting confused with his Babes in the Wood (on Fire) album which was co-written with Walter Fagan during the war and remixed by Jim McNaughty and Johnny Humphries for Breakfast Records. The plaudits were admittedly short-lived, appearing briefly between two adverts for Opal Fruits and Spam respectively. If you can't get your facts right then keep your stupid comments to yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2013, 17:53:34 GMT
nofuture says:
Excellent critique - pity no review title to love!

You are of course correct. Mcalpine, disappointed at poor recognition for the collaboration with Donald Walters, persuaded Peter Pfeffer to rename his Opal Fruits - Starburst. The perceived wisdom being that the word 'star' would create subliminal positiveness to the 'Babes in the Wood' project. Unfortunately, Walters by this time had become gravely disorientated by an extremely bad hairdo and had confused the lead letter - capital 'S' with the other product 'Spam' and it was widely reported that he would invite guests at dinner parties to place chunks of the product in their mouths to see how long it would take before the urge to chew. For reasons unspecified, the practice became known as pretzel logic. (Wonder how many smug people get the allusion.)

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2013, 14:50:25 GMT
Jazz Buff says:
You rather rudely write, 'If you can't get your facts right then keep your stupid comments to yourself" yet can't correctly spell John Humphrys' surname - Doh!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2013, 18:04:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Feb 2013, 23:11:58 GMT
Well, Jazz Buff, there you have it! You've put your finger right on the button, because it's long been
suspected that tenor sax maestro / Breakfast Records co-founder Johnnie Humphries and that iconic broadcaster and director-general-eater John Humphrys are one and the same. After all, Ronnie Scott's is but a stone's throw from Portland Place and chuck-out time from the former merges quite nicely with the run-up to "R4T" (as insiders call it - a reference borrowed from military speak, as in "if you can't tune in to R4T, we've been nuked"), give or take a bit of furtive Soho wandering in the early hours.

The suspicion about their identity arose after John's grilling of Walt Fagan about his then
proposed new album, "Sunken Condos":

"Might listeners be wondering", he asked, why it is that Americans have to abbreviate everything that's beautiful about the English language, contracting our wonderfully expressive phrases to soundbite titbits? Why not properly refer to the work as "Subterranean Condominiums" because, after all, isn't that what decent people expect, or have we all got to go around saying "Condo" now, which, let's face it, sounds more like a contraceptive?". Even Jim McNaughtie chipped in with "In which case, 'Have a look around my condo' might be unfortunate, per'aps? Though I've said worse.".

Most "in the know" commentators dismissed this as nothing but sour grapes on Humphrys' part,
because in fact Fagan had already told Humphries he'd hired someone else to do the sax breaks.

Further light was shed on the puzzle during Jimmy "Mac" Alpine's Comeback tour, unofficially titled "Martha, Stop Whining", when keen observers noted that the tour dates corresponded with Humphrys' absence from R4T. Alpine was rather keen to show off his mysterious new sax star, promising him a prominent role in the sessions for the upcoming "Alpine Milk" LP, the "Condensed Milk" EP (first white vinyl, BTW!) and the famously rare singles "(Honey, why don't you) Nestle with the Milky Kid?" and radio favourite "Get The Allusion".

Unfortunately, this classic band fell apart with the sudden departure of drummer Lew Carroll (about whom the late great Tony Williams commented "Compared to that sticksman, I may as well have played with a log!"), taking with him bassist Kennie Hom, to form rock fusionists Wock Jabber. Three seminal albums followed: Hot Wock, Son of Hot Wock and of course Return of the Son of Hot Wock. Sadly, the ludicrous fourth, Wock Lobster, nosedived like a stricken B52.

Ten years after (about time, some said), having made his stash, Kennie quit, did a "George Foreman" and went into frying pans the world over.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2013, 14:15:26 GMT
nofuture says:
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giggle ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha gasp gasp ha ha ha ha he he he ha ho ho ho oh oh oh oh oh

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha he he he he he he eh?... I'm just reading the amazon...THE AMAZON!!! ARE YOU DEAF! oh..no..sorry love
yeah I'd love a cuppa...be there in a minute...ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha he he he he he he he he he he he ha ha ha ha ho ho ho ho ho ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha he he he ho ho ho ha ha ha ha ho ho ho he he he he ha ha ha

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oh oh ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ha ha ha ho ho ha ha ho ho ho ho ha ha

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2013, 17:24:31 GMT
Hermit, you're a beacon of sanity. Love to Herman.
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