Posts Tagged ‘Katy Lied’

Katy Lied

Katy Lied is the fourth album by Steely Dan, released in 1975 by ABC Records, Building from the jazz fusion foundation of Pretzel Logic Steely Dan created an alluringly sophisticated album of jazzy pop with Katy Lied. With this record,Walter Becker and Donald Fagen began relying solely on studio musicians, which is evident from the immaculate sound of the album. Usually, such a studied recording method would drain the life out of each song, but that’s not the case with Katy Lied, which actually benefits from the duo’s perfectionist tendencies.

Sandwiched between Pretzel Logic and The Royal Scam, Steely Dan’s 1975 release Katy Lied wasn’t about breaking new ground. It was about holding on to the territory they had staked out for themselves over the past few years as one of rock’s brightest, smartest and smart-assiest bands. Recorded over a three-month period in late 1974 and early 1975 in Los Angeles, the album can’t help but to absorb the sounds of the city where it was birthed. It’s cool, it’s laid back, it’s impeccably played and it’s kinda smarter than you, even though it may not come out and say it. Fagen and Becker played it that way from the start and were increasing these moods and feelings with each passing album.

Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos. Essentially,Katy Lied is a smoother version of Pretzel Logic, featuring the same cross-section of jazz-pop and blues-rock. The lack of innovations doesn’t hurt the record, since the songs are uniformly brilliant. Less overtly cynical than previous Dan albums, the album still has its share of lyrical stingers, but what’s really notable are the melodies, from the seductive jazzy soul of “Doctor Wu” and the lazy blues of “Chain Lightning” to the terse “Black Friday” and mock calypso of “Everyone’s Gone to the Movies.” It’s another excellent record in one of the most distinguished rock & roll catalogs of the ’70s.

Steely Dan were making their usual strides up the American album chart on 24th May 1975, as they paid another of their visits to the singles scene. As their fourth LP “Katy Lied” moved towards a No. 13 peak and eventual platinum certification in the US, the single  “Black Friday” jumped onto the Hot 100. The phrase that the Walter Becker/Donald Fagen song was named after has come in recent years to denote a date on the retail calendar. It had traditionally denoted a day of collective crisis, particularly of a financial nature, as with Steely Dan’s fictitious tale — which, with typical inventiveness, was set in Australia.

Their story of a crooked speculator who makes off with his ill-gotten gains had him absconding to Muswellbrook, a town in New South Wales that lies some 150 miles north of Sydney. “Gonna wear no socks and shoes,” sings Fagen, “with nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos…when Black Friday comes I’ll be on that hill, you know I will.”

‘Black Friday’ entered the US chart, as the highest newcomer of the week, at No. 76, and garnered enough top 40 radio support to peak at No. 37. As Brian Sweet’s biography of the band, Reelin’ In The Years, recounts, that was “not bad for an act that wasn’t touring, wasn’t about to tour and wasn’t making any secret of it either.”

As for locating the song in Australia? “It was the place most far away from L.A. we could think of,” said Fagen

Best Song on ‘Katy Lied’ (1975): “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)”

One of Steely Dan’s most brilliant casting moments is also one of their best-written songs. “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” immediately signals its intention to explore the depths of alienation, as Fagen sighs: “If I had my way, I would move to another lifetime.” Hal Blaine’s old-pro cadence draws us ever further in, as Becker and Fagen continued the practice of asking musical heroes over for guest appearances. (Jazz bassist Ray Brown appeared on the earlier “Razor Boy”; saxist Wayne Shorter later sat in on “Aja.”) Blaine, who played on a stunning 40 chart-topping songs, makes a wonderfully complex contribution – moving with ease from the low-key verses to more uptempo choruses and then into eruptive fills, and back again. That’s why Steely Dan asked the brilliant Jeff Porcaro, one of Blaine’s clearest heirs, to step aside.

Black Friday Dawns For Steely Dan

Steely Dan – 1975 outtakes and demos from Katy Lied sessions Soundboard recordings, excellent quality Here’s some of their session outtakes, which is only appropriate because for most of their existence, they were exclusively a product of the painstaking studio sessions conducted by Fagen & Becker & a host of session musicians. Fagen, in particular was a perfectionist and spent hour after hour making sure that every sound on the record was just right. Here then are some of the earlier versions, Fagen’s piano demos, alternate versions, and outtakes from the Katy Lied sessions, which also includes a couple of very early versions of 2 songs that would eventually end up on Aja, ‘Black Cow’ and ‘I Got the News’. So, here, in particular, we can hear the precision and detail that went into the backing and rhythm track, before adding the finishing touches. So, enjoy some behind the scenes looks at Steely Dan in the Studio. (by BBKron)

00:00 Black Friday 03:28 Bad Sneakers 06:36 Rose Darling 09:36 Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More 12:30 Dr. Wu 15:59 Everyone’s Gone To The Movies 19:24 Your Gold Teeth II 23:10 Chain Lightning 25:46 Throw Back The Little Ones 28:49 Mr. Sam (unreleased song) 32:14 Gullywater (unreleased instrumental) 34:35 Black Cow [Take 1] (piano demo) 39:08 Black Cow [Take 2] 43:09 I Got The News (early version) 45:52 Black Friday 49:03 Rose Darling 52:11 Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More 55:17 Dr. Wu 59:18 Your Gold Teeth II 1:03:32 Chain Lightning 1:06:29 Throw Back The Little Ones

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It’s been almost 40 years since Rolling Stone magazine dubbed Steely Dan “the perfect musical antiheroes of the Seventies” in assessing the band’s sixth album Aja. But while the Walter Becker and Donald Fagen-led band named after a dildo in William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch may seem more establishment than anti-establishment these days, it’s amazing how fresh the music remains, even after decades of repeated plays on classic-rock and adult-contemporary radio stations. Even now, their albums still have plenty of riches left to uncover in their inventive mix of jazz and rock, complex chord progressions, intricate arrangements, and endlessly enigmatic, bitingly cynical lyrics.

Steely Dan announced that the band will return to The Beacon Theatre, New York stage for a nine-night residency of themed performances starting October 17th, 2018. Included among the highlights of this year’s extraordinary concerts are: performances of Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy (1973), The Royal Scam (1976), Aja (1977), Gaucho (1980), plus Donald Fagen’s solo album The Nightfly (1982), plus “By Popular Demand” and “Greatest Hits” nights. Each and every night, Steely Dan will also treat audiences with selections from The Dan’s extraordinary catalog, packed with infectious tunes, bodacious harmonies, irresistible grooves, blazing solo work, rich ensembles and sleek, subversive lyrics.

Becker died from complications of esophageal cancer on September 3rd, 2017. In a note released to the media, Fagen remembered his longtime friend and bandmate, and promised to “keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band

Fagen group is mostly a touring band these days, and their latest tour, which they dub “The Dan Who Knew Too Much” on their website, has now brought them to New York’s Beacon Theatre for a series of concerts, some of them devoted to live performances of particular albums. With this in mind, it’s as good a time as any to revisit and reassess their nine-album discography. Steely Dan has explored so many different musical styles and moods over the course of their more-than-four-decade-long. Whether you gravitate more toward Pretzel Logic or Aja or even Two Against Nature may all depend on how you’re feeling at a given moment.

Everything Must Go

This is Steely Dan’s last album to date, released in 2003. It feels like a final statement and a world-weary one at that. Its opening cut, “The Last Mall,” sets the tone: the music set in an ironically innocuous C major even as Fagen sings of an apocalyptic “cancellation sale” at seemingly the only mall left in the world. Much of the album progresses in a similar deceptively laid-back fashion until the concluding minute of the final title track ruefully fades out with what else? a wailing saxophone solo. In Everything Must Go, it’s as if Steely Dan, discovering they have nothing much left to say, decided to make that sense of resignation the subject of the album. The result lacks the lyrical and musical complexity of their best work, but there’s something strangely affecting about it nevertheless. Plus, it’s the only album that features Walter Becker singing lead (on “Slang of Ages”).

Gaucho

Speaking of world-weary, a similar air of ennui blows throughout this, their last album of Steely Dan’s ’70s heyday. “She thinks I’m crazy / but I’m just growing old,” Fagen sings in the album’s biggest hit, “Hey Nineteen.” That sense of being out of time extends to the record as a whole, with Fagen and Becker doubling down on the coolly relaxed vibe of their preceding Aja, while dispensing with anything resembling seductive emotional warmth. Instead, a kind of slick disillusionment peeks through Gaucho, most evident in the album’s longest track, “Glamour Profession,” which chronicles a day in the life of a drug dealer in Los Angeles with electronic keyboard lines that chill to the touch and brass lines that blare with ironic joie de vivre.

Naturally, the near-funereal “Third World Man” sees Steely Dan riding off to the distance in a fatigued daze. It may be a difficult album to warm to, but it’s nothing if not committed to its dispirited languor.

Two Against Nature

For millennials, this much-belated Becker/Fagen reunion album may well be known more as the album that beat out, among other nominees, Radiohead’s more progressive-sounding Kid A for the Album of the Year Grammy in 2000. As much of a confirmation as that may be as to the Recording Academy’s backward-leaning taste, that shouldn’t detract from the genuine pleasures of Two Against Nature, which allies the easy-listening jazz of Aja with some of the hard-rocking spirit of their earlier albums. Their dark-humored perversity remains intact here, too; among the album’s nine songs are various tales of, well, aging men basically trying to get some. But unlike in Gaucho’s “Hey Nineteen,” at least they approach this potentially unsavory subject matter with more youthful vitality this time.

Katy Lied

If 1974’s Pretzel Logic laid the groundwork for a jazzier sound than Can’t Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy did, its follow-up, Katy Lied, ran with it while still keeping to its predecessor’s concision. To some degree, that makes this very fine album feel a bit like more of the same after Pretzel Logic. That, however, is not to deny the gleaming brilliance of the many of the songs here, especially the mid-album one-two punch of the strangely dreamy “Doctor Wu” (which the 1980s punk band Minutemen covered in their masterpiece Double Nickels on the Dime) and the calypso-infused “Everyone’s Gone to the Movies” (a song about a child molester, in case you weren’t paying attention to the lyrics). This is also the first album to feature Michael McDonald  who Steely Dan’s former co-lead guitarist Jeff Baxter would later tap to front the Doobie Brothers as a backing singer.

The Royal Scam

Whatever warmth there was in the jazz-rock fusion of Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied was basically obliterated by 1976’s The Royal Scam, in which bitterness and sarcasm run rampant through blasting horn lines and driving rhythms. From the struggles of a drug dealer in “Kid Charlemagne” to the sneaky plea for abstinence in “The Fez” to Dean Parks’ brutal voice-box-amplified guitar solo of “Haitian Divorce,”

it all culminates in the epic title track, with its repetitive, near-Sisyphean structure and cynical chronicle of folks “[wandering] in from the city of St. John” into a glittery wasteland. Perhaps, in hindsight, the sophistication of Aja and subsequent Steely Dan albums was simply natural after this atom bomb of cynicism, with Fagen’s snarl sounding more potent than ever.

Can’t Buy a Thrill

In some ways, Steely Dan’s debut LP is an anomaly in its discography, featuring an expanded line-up that included the more conventionally pretty-sounding David Palmer singing lead vocals on two of the songs (“Dirty Work” and “Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)”) and drummer Jim Hodder singing on another (“Midnite Cruiser”). But even if the more overtly soft-rock style of Can’t Buy a Thrill is different from what the band’s more concentrated line-up in subsequent albums would explore, it’s remarkable to hear how much of the band’s sound was already fully formed here.

Right off the bat, “Do It Again” features a Latin beat that marked as it strikingly different from just about anything else at the time, and assorted jazz flourishes pop up here and there in later cuts. Becker and Fagen would refine their style further in their subsequent albums, but Can’t Buy a Thrill is still a striking beginning for the band.

Aja

This, still the band’s most commercially successful record, represented Steely Dan’s first full-on venture into the kind of sophisticated jazz-rock that would characterize their music from then on. In many ways, it remains Steely Dan’s finest in that realm. Like its sophomore album, Countdown to Ecstasy,

Aja is rife with songs that have lengthy instrumental solos, akin to a jazz jam session. But while the Steely Dan of Countdown was mostly still rooted in a rock idiom, there’s no rock at all to be found in Aja, just some of the lushest textures and most relaxed music of their career. The album has some of the most openly empathetic lyrics, most notably in “Deacon Blues,” which is still one of the most touching songs about the yearning that arises out of a midlife crisis.

Pretzel Logic

After the extended jams of Countdown to Ecstasy, Steely Dan’s follow-up, Pretzel Logic, saw the band reverting back to the mainstream concision of Can’t Buy a Thrill. The longest songs on this album (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and the title track) are roughly four-and-a-half minutes. But there’s nothing conventional at all about these tunes, which pushed the jazz flourishes in their first two albums further both musically and even lyrically. After all, how many rock albums would feature, of all things, a note-for-note cover of Duke Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-oo?” Or a joyous tune about basking in the music of “Mister Parker’s band,” with “Mister Parker” no doubt referring to the legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker? Ranging from bluesy vamps (the title track) to lyrical ballads (“Any Major Dude Will Tell You”) to hard rockers (“Night by Night”), Pretzel Logic supersedes Steely Dan’s most commercial album with this fascinatingly unpredictable 33 minutes of music.

Countdown to Ecstasy

Countdown to Ecstasy is, in its deliberate sprawl, arguably the exhilarating Steely Dan experience. Becker and Fagen may have hemmed in their jazzy tendencies for the sake of wider accessibility in Can’t Buy a Thrill, but they let it all go for their sophomore effort. No major hits on the level of “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years” emerged from Countdown to Ecstasy, but there’s a stylistic variety to this set of eight songs—from the “Rock Around the Clock”-like beat of the opening cut “Bodhisattva” and the ragtime of “The Boston Rag” to the balladry of “Pearl of the Quarter” and the apocalypse of “King of the World”—that remains unparalleled among the band’s studio albums. At the very least, this album has the ever-irresistible “My Old School,” in which its raucous horn arrangements and up-tempo beat mask a deep cynicism toward college life. In other words, it’s quintessential Steely Dan.

thanks to Paste Magazine for the words