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Listening to pretty much any Steely Dan song can best be described as swaddling into a virtuosic sonic cocoon, welcoming a dozen-plus instrumentalists to take you on an unforgettable journey of rock bliss. In recognition of Fagen taking Steely Dan back to the Beacon Theater for another themed residency — Becker died last summer of cancer — Vulture compiled a few notable stories of what exactly it was like for musicians to work alongside The Dan and the crushing blows to their egos that ensued. All they were going for was the drum track. Compared to other musicians who were brought in to work with them, though, Graydon had a surprisingly pleasant, albeit occasionally stressful, time. Including taking some breaks. They knew they were onto something. All they did was work those two words for just the right sound for hours. I really have to get off the session. So we had to design something that would do it perfectly, but with some human feeling, the right amount of layback. Wendel can play exactly what the drummer plays.
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Donald Fagen fronted Steely Dan but that was a matter of circumstance.
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But theirs is a purely affectionate homage. The same could be said of his bandmate, singer and keyboard player Donald Fagen.
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Recording alongside nearly 40 musicians, band leaders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker pushed Steely Dan further into experimenting with different combinations of session players while pursuing longer, more sophisticated compositions for the album. It spawned a number of hit singles, including " Peg ", " Deacon Blues ", and " Josie ". It has since appeared frequently on professional rankings of the greatest albums, with critics and audiophiles applauding the album's high production standards. The album was produced by Steely Dan's longtime producer Gary Katz [1] and features several leading session musicians. The eight-minute-long title track features jazz-based changes and a solo by saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The album's title is pronounced like Asia. The inside photos were taken by Walter Becker and Dorothy A. It also reached number five on the UK albums chart. When DTS attempted to make a 5. Duffy added that while the duo's "extreme intellectual self-consciousness" was beginning to show its limitations, the latter "may be precisely the quality that makes Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.
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Steely Dan is an American rock and jazz fusion band founded in by core members Walter Becker guitars, bass, backing vocals and Donald Fagen keyboards, lead vocals. Rolling Stone has called them "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies". After the group disbanded in , Becker and Fagen were less active throughout most of the next decade, though a cult following [2] remained devoted to the group. Since reuniting in , Steely Dan has toured steadily and released two albums of new material, the first of which, Two Against Nature , earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March It sounded like, you know, like a black person, really. Becker and Fagen began playing in local groups. They looked like ghosts—black turtlenecks and skin so white that it looked like yogurt. Absolutely no activity, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes and dope. After Fagen graduated in , the two moved to Brooklyn and tried to peddle their tunes in the Brill Building in midtown Manhattan.
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Steely Dan is an American rock and jazz fusion band founded in by core members Walter Becker guitars, bass, backing vocals and Donald Fagen keyboards, lead vocals. Rolling Stone has called them "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies". After the group disbanded in , Becker and Fagen were less active throughout most of the next decade, though a cult following [2] remained devoted to the group.

Since reuniting in , Steely Dan has toured steadily and released two albums of new material, the first of which, Two Against Nature , earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March It sounded like, you know, like a black person, really. Becker and Fagen began playing in local groups.

They looked like ghosts—black turtlenecks and skin so white that it looked like yogurt. Absolutely no activity, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes and dope. After Fagen graduated in , the two moved to Brooklyn and tried to peddle their tunes in the Brill Building in midtown Manhattan.

Becker later said bluntly, "We did it for the money. Although some of these songs "Caves of Altamira", "Brooklyn", "Barrytown" were re-recorded for Steely Dan albums, most were never officially released. Becker and Fagen joined the touring band of Jay and the Americans for about a year and a half.

He hired Becker and Fagen as staff songwriters; they flew to California. Katz would produce all their s albums in collaboration with engineer Roger Nichols. Nichols would win six Grammy Awards for his work with the band from the s to Fans of Beat Generation literature, Fagen and Becker named the band after a "revolutionary" steam-powered dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. Distribution of "stock" copies available to the general public was apparently extremely limited; [19] the single sold so poorly that promotional copies are much more readily available than stock copies in today's collectors market.

As of , "Dallas" and "Sail the Waterway" are the only officially released Steely Dan tracks that have not been reissued on cassette or compact disc. In an interview , Becker and Fagen called the songs "stinko. Can't Buy a Thrill , Steely Dan's debut album, was released in Along with " Dirty Work " sung by David Palmer , the songs became staples on progressive radio.

Because of Fagen's reluctance to sing live, Palmer handled most of the vocal duties on stage. During the first tour, however, Katz and Becker decided that they preferred Fagen's interpretations of the band's songs, persuading him to take over. Palmer quietly left the group while it recorded its second album. He wrote the No. Released in , Countdown to Ecstasy was not as commercially successful as Steely Dan's first album. Becker and Fagen were unhappy with some of the performances on the record and believed that it sold poorly because it had been recorded hastily on tour.

Pretzel Logic was released in early Louis Toodle-Oo ". During the previous album's tour, the band had added vocalist-percussionist Royce Jones , vocalist-keyboardist Michael McDonald , and session drummer Jeff Porcaro. Striving for perfection, Becker and Fagen sometimes asked musicians to record as many as forty takes of each track. A rift began growing between Becker-Fagen and Steely Dan's other members particularly Baxter and Hodder , who wanted to tour.

Becker and Fagen disliked constant touring and wanted to concentrate solely on writing and recording. The other members gradually left the band, discouraged by this and by their diminishing roles in the studio. However, Dias remained with the group until 's Gaucho and Michael McDonald contributed vocals until the group's twenty-year hiatus after Gaucho. The album went gold on the strength of "Black Friday" and " Bad Sneakers ", but Becker and Fagen were so dissatisfied with the album's sound compromised by a faulty DBX noise reduction system that they publicly apologized for it on the album's back cover and for years refused to listen to it in its final form.

The Royal Scam was released in May Partly because of Carlton's prominent contributions, it is the band's most guitar-oriented album. It also features performances by session drummer Bernard Purdie.

The album sold well in the United States, though without the strength of a hit single. Aja reached the Top Five in the U. Aja solidified Becker's and Fagen's reputations as songwriters and studio perfectionists. Planning to tour in support of Aja , Steely Dan assembled a live band. Rehearsal ended and the tour was canceled when backing musicians began comparing pay. The movie was a box-office disaster, but the song was a hit, earning Steely Dan another engineering Grammy award. It was a minor hit in the UK and barely missed the Top 20 in the U.

Becker and Fagen took a break from songwriting for most of before starting work on Gaucho. The project would not go smoothly: technical, legal, and personal setbacks delayed the album's release and subsequently led Becker and Fagen to suspend their partnership for over a decade.

Misfortune struck early when an assistant engineer accidentally erased most of "The Second Arrangement", a favorite track of Katz and Nichols, [32] which was never recovered. Records , but MCA claimed ownership of their music, preventing them from changing labels. Turmoil in Becker's personal life also interfered. Becker settled out of court, but he was shocked by the accusations and by the tabloid press coverage that followed. Soon after, Becker was struck by a taxi while crossing a Manhattan street, shattering his right leg in several places and forcing him to use crutches.

Still more legal trouble was to come. Jazz composer Keith Jarrett sued Steely Dan for copyright infringement , claiming that they had based Gaucho 's title track on one of his compositions, "Long As You Know You're Living Yours" Fagen later admitted that he'd loved the song and that it had been a strong influence. Gaucho was finally released in November Despite its tortured history, it was another major success. The album's first single, " Hey Nineteen ", reached No. Roger Nichols won a third engineering Grammy award for his work on the album.

Steely Dan disbanded in June What a Beautiful World. He occasionally did production work for other artists, as did Becker. The most prominent of these were two albums Becker produced for the British sophisti-pop group China Crisis , who were strongly influenced by Steely Dan.

For the second of the two albums, 's Diary of a Hollow Horse , Becker is only listed as a producer and not as a band member. Becker produced Fagen's second solo album, Kamakiriad , in Fagen conceived the album as a sequel to The Nightfly. Becker and Fagen reunited for an American tour to support Kamakiriad , which sold poorly despite a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

With Becker playing lead and rhythm guitar, the pair assembled a band that included a second keyboard player, second lead guitarist, bassist, drummer, vibraphonist, three female backing singers, and four-piece saxophone section. Among the musicians from the live band, several would continue to work with Steely Dan over the next decade, including bassist Tom Barney and saxophone players Cornelius Bumpus and Chris Potter. That year Becker released his debut solo album, 11 Tracks of Whack , which Fagen co-produced.

Steely Dan toured again in support of the boxed set and Tracks. In they released a live CD, Alive in America , compiled from recordings of several and concerts. After this activity, Becker and Fagen returned to the studio to begin work on a new album. In the summer of , they began another American tour, followed by an international tour later that year. The tour featured guitarist Jon Herington , who would go on to play with the band over the next two decades. In contrast to their earlier work, they had tried to write music that captured a live feel.

Fewer session musicians played on Everything Must Go than had become typical of Steely Dan albums: Becker played bass on every track and lead guitar on five tracks; Fagen added piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizers, and percussion on top of his vocals; touring drummer Keith Carlock played on every track.

In during the recording of Everything Must Go , Becker and Fagen fired their engineer Roger Nichols, who had worked with them for 30 years, without explanation or notification, according to band biographer Brian Sweet's revision of his book Reelin' in the Years. To complete his Nightfly trilogy, Fagen issued Morph the Cat in In Steely Dan toured Europe and America extensively in their Left Bank Holiday and Rent Party Tour, alternating between standard one-date concerts at large venues and multi-night theater shows that featured performances of The Royal Scam , Aja , or Gaucho in their entirety on certain nights.

The following year, Fagen formed the touring supergroup Dukes of September Rhythm Revue with McDonald, Boz Scaggs , and members of Steely Dan's live band, whose repertoire included songs by all three songwriters. Longtime studio engineer Roger Nichols died of pancreatic cancer on April 10, Fagen released his fourth album, Sunken Condos , in It was his first solo release unrelated to the Nightfly trilogy.

The band played its final shows with Becker in Becker died from complications of esophageal cancer on September 3, In December, Fagen said that he would rather have retired the Steely Dan name after Becker's death, and would instead have toured with the current iteration of the group under another name, but was persuaded not to by promoters for commercial reasons.

Special attention is given to the individual sound of each instrument. Recording is done with the utmost fidelity and attention to sonic detail, and mixed so that all the instruments are heard and none are given undue priority. Their albums are also notable for the characteristically 'warm' and 'dry' production sound, and the sparing use of echo and reverberation. Becker and Fagen favored a distinctly soul-influenced style of backing vocals, which after the first few albums were almost always performed by a female chorus although Michael McDonald features prominently on several tracks, including the song "Black Friday" and the song " Peg ".

Venetta Fields , Sherlie Matthews and Clydie King were the preferred trio for backing vocals on the group's late s albums. The band also featured singers like Patti Austin and Valerie Simpson on later projects such as Gaucho. Horn arrangements have been used on songs from all Steely Dan albums.

They typically feature instruments such as trumpets, trombones and saxophones, although they have also used other instruments such as flutes and clarinets. The horn parts occasionally integrate simple synth lines to alter the tone quality of individual horn lines; for example in "Deacon Blues" this was done to "thicken" one of the saxophone lines.

On their earlier albums Steely Dan featured guest arrangers and on their later albums the arrangement work is credited to Fagen.



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