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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

Discussion in 'music' started by Woodface, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Just been listening to this masterpiece, I'm probably in a minority by thinking it's probably their best? Anyway, I do think it is one of the great guitar records, the standards are so high throughout.
  2. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    Countdown to Ecstasy is the best, because Joe Hutch and I say so. But Katy Lied is great and seriously underrated in the Dan canon. Maybe even joint second with Royal Scam IMO. If you haven’t found Denny Dias’ web pages about the recording and post-recording disasters they are worth seeking out!
  3. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I do like Countdown to Ecstasy, sound quality is a little down on their standards but is has some real classics like 'Show biz kids'. Choosing which Dan record is best is a pretty pointless excercise. I did notice that the SQ on KL does seem to vary through the album, just had my NAP250 back from a service & it really seems to spotlight such differences.
  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    There is something notoriously odd about Katy Lied technically, I can’t remember what exactly, but maybe something to do with the tape noise-reduction malfunctioning or tape alignment somehow. If you search over on Steve Hoffman’s site there is a lot of detail on all Steely Dan albums including hundreds of pages of bewildering info about vinyl and CD masters (tl:dr 1st US press vinyl & very earliest CDs are the best).
  5. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    DBX (?) malfunctioning in an impossible way, bizarre oxide crumblings, engineers pressing the wrong button for the only time in their careers...
    I’ll link to the Denny Dias pages if I can find them again.
    kevinrt likes this.
  6. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    As much as like Aja I do think it is slightly over praised compared to their other output, however, the SQ is really good. I recently bought a 'back to black' reissue for £12, not audiofool pressing but the source material is so good it really shines.
  7. webster

    webster Listen & enjoy.

    Gaucho for me at the moment.
  8. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    Yes, if you bought the albums on the way home from school on the release day (Countdown and Pretzel in my case) to play on your crappy little record player, then perhaps the music burns into your mind before the SQ does. TBH I think the whole ‘Dan albums were state of the art recordings’ stuff is overplayed somewhat. I don’t think there was anything special until Katy Lied, then a steady improvement until the obsessional quality of Aja and Gaucho.

    I also think Aja is overrated because it sounds so good. Gaucho too, although I prefer it to Aja.

    Here’s the Denny Dias page I mentioned before. Tricky to find unless you know it exists!

    MotelBlues, mysterypete and kjb like this.
  9. waxkinglyrical

    waxkinglyrical pfm Member

    In order of preference: Gaucho, Can’t Buy A Thrill and Pretzel Logic.
    Brown Bottle likes this.
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I discovered Steely Dan initially via Donald Fagen’s Nightfly when it came out and then Aja, so those remain my favourites really. I eventually back-catalogued the rest and like them all now though.
  11. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Great article
  12. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Bold choices, would put Katy Lied & Royal Scam just above them. Gaucho is great but perhaps a bit too slick?
  13. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Definitely a similar feel between those two albums. I quite like a lot of Donald's solo work, Morph the Cat is excellent as is Karminkrind (which I have definitely misspelt)
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It was a really odd thing for me as I was quite young (late teens) and had just done the whole ‘reject everything for punk/new-wave’ thing, but as someone at that point attempting to learn how to play bass I was just knocked out by the bass playing and sound. A friend who was far more into conventional rock stuff had a copy of Nightfly and a pair of AR14s and it just sounded *so good*! I bought a copy and have loved it ever since.

    I still don’t quite understand why I like Steely Dan as much as I do as it is theoretically that ‘cold dead session-muso’ thing I never got on with, but in practice it just works so well and the more I figure out the lyrics the more rather dry humour I see in it too. I think my having moved a lot further into jazz has helped a lot too, there is certainly a strong element of that to the later stuff (Aja etc). It is only in recent years I fully back-catalogued (early Japanese CDs) to supliment the copies of Nightfly, Aja and Gaucho on vinyl.
  15. waxkinglyrical

    waxkinglyrical pfm Member

    I can see why Gaucho is considered slick, on the other hand Aja is just too perfect for me, Peg is very good though.

    Take Dirty Work from Can’t Buy A Thrill, a great tune made immortal by James Gandolfini singing along to it in an episode of The Sopranos.
    Any Major Dude On Pretzel Logic is another personal favourite.

    I suppose I like the lower key numbers.
  16. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I bought a greatest hits first & it left me a little cold but I was persuaded to buy the albums & was sucked in. Yes, they are slick but everything hangs together & there is genuine craft. Cold eyed session musicians are basically musical gods though IMHO.
  17. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Aja stands up to repeated listens but it does benefit from being played on good equipment, hence why it is so beloved of audiofool (me included). Any major dude is amazing. Yet to meet a women who likes SD, wife really hates them!
  18. Vinniemac

    Vinniemac pfm Member

    I think it’s my least favourite apart from Two Against Nature. I don’t think the songs are quite as consistently strong as their very best albums, and the whole album sound is kind of flat. Having said that, it’s still a really good album, Bad Sneakers and Dr Wu are as good as anything they’ve done, and Phil Woods’ alto break on the latter is magnificent.

    Royal Scam is possibly my favourite, probably because it was the one I heard first and lived immediately. Not a bad one in the bunch.
  19. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    Denny Dias’ solo on Your Gold Teeth II is just fantasic. Rick Derringer’s is great too as is the first one on Green Earrings (Larry Carlton I think.) But of course amazing Dan guitar solos are ten a penny - Kid Charlemagne, Bodhisattva, Boston Rag, Your Gold Teeth...
    Pedro83 likes this.
  20. kjb

    kjb pfm Member

    That's pretty much my story as well. For me there are two Steely Dans - the first three records are about the great, intelligent songs when they were a band of sorts, the next three more about musicianship and great arrangements with a slowly shrinking core and more and more session players. As a kid I loved Jeff Baxter's guitar playing. Katy Lied is a sort of crossover I guess, a few fine songs but a couple of tracks where the arrangements seem more to the fore. These days I return to the first three records far more than the records from Katy Lies onwards. I can't really say which of these records I prefer but My Old School still stands out for me as their best song.

    I stopped buying their records after Aja ( but did get The Nightfly ) It sounds like I may need to give Gaucho a second chance.

    As an aside, I'd recommend the Minutemen's cover of Dr Wu if you've not heard it.

    Theo likes this.

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