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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - STEELY DAN- "NOT TOO PERVERSE FOR MAINSTREAM" FEATURING THE ALBUM "AJA" BY STEELY DAN IN HIGH DEFINITION WITH NARRATIVE - EPISODE # 49 - THE CAPTAIN EXPLORES HIS COVE OF 8 TRACK TREASURES JUST FOR YOU!!

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“NOT TOO PERVERSE FOR MAINSTREAM

EPISODE #38: AJA by Steely Dan (ABC, 1977)

Some folks disparagingly call it “Yacht Rock,” a term used universally, but somehow hard to define. I suppose it refers to a softness, an easily digestible product designed to go down smoothly. But, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s output is anything but easy to digest – it’s thorny lyrically, and compositionally complicated. And, yet, it all washes over us so enticingly that you might miss its pathological strain if you’re not paying attention. Elements of jazz, soul, r&b, and funk swirl around allusive portraits of creepy denizens of the underbelly, providing, should you take the time to examine them closely, a heady mixture that baffles the mind and the senses.

Steely Dan – (the name famously derives from William S. Burroughs’ dildo in Naked Lunch) – stand alone and apart in the musical-literary pantheon. (And, indeed, they are included – inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2001). They were dubbed by Rolling Stone “the perfect musical antiheroes for the 70’s.” Think about that: in the 70’s, that quintessential era of anti-heroes, independent film, and decadence, this outfit’s anti social impulses stand above and beyond.

In many ways it was kismet: Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, meeting as students at Bard College, knew at the first that their love of beat literature and jazz meant that they were destined to join forces. In early days they worked for Jay and the Americans, whose singer, Jay Black dubbed them “the Manson and Starkweather of Rock and Roll,” and, then they went on to thrust their switchblades into the belly of our musical imaginations.

Sure, they were perfectionists who often employed other musicians to play – In AJA alone there are 40 jazz masters featured, including Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Wayne Shorter, etc. – but, the product is pure Fagen and Becker – perverse, provocative, and super smart.

In Deacon Blues, Fagen lovingly courts oblivion when he croons: “They got a name for the winners in the world, and I want a name when I lose, they call Alabama the CRIMSON TIDE, call me DEACON BLUES.”

Look it up.


By Rich Buckland 03/13/2022 07:11 PM

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