Thursday, June 14, 2007

290. Steely Dan - Countdown To Ecstasy (1973)

Track Listing

1. Bodhisattva
2. Razor Boy
3. The Boston Rag
4. Your Gold Teeth
5. Show Biz Kids
6. My Old School
7. Pearl Of The Quarter
8. King Of The World


Steely Dan are another band with which I wasn't to familiar before starting this project but that I have grown to really like. There are some elements here that sound very AOR, but never in a bad way. Actually Steely Dan are smart enough never to fall into the triteness of most AOR groups, they are not only smart, witty and sarcastic lyrically, but they are also very innovative musically.

Steely go through a big spectrum of music here, from rockabilly in the first track through south-American inspired and even doo-wop choirs but strangely enough every song in the album is very much a sister to every other song. There is a distinctive style here that is stronger than the different stylistic differences between the songs. A lot of this has to do with the fact that all of the songs have jazz as a big part of their background, either in solos or just in the compositional style.

So, Steely manage to make a stylistically diverse album of intelligent adult oriented rock which still feels cohesive despite its variety. There are not many bands which are capable of this, but until now Steely Dan have consistently done it. I await their next album with pleasure. Get it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Show Biz Kids
2. My Old School
3. Boston Rag
4. King Of The World

Final Grade



Countdown to Ecstasy, released in 1973, had nowhere near the same level of commercial success as the first album (probably to the surprise of few, as it was much more jazz/blues oriented than its predecessor). Becker and Fagen blamed this on having to rush-record the album between tour dates and they weren't entirely happy with some of the performances on the record. The album's singles included "Show-Biz Kids" (curiously chosen to release as a hopeful hit) and "My Old School", both considered "classic" Steely Dan by fans and critics alike, but failing to make a significant entry into the charts. "My Old School" (and to a lesser extent, "Bodhisattva") did become a minor FM Rock staple as years passed, however, and remains so to this day. "Bodhisattva" was also notable as the only readily available live recording of Steely Dan for many years (as the B-side of the 1980 single "Hey Nineteen").

My Old School:

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