298

Walter Becker: Circus Money

Mike Perciaccante By

Sign in to view read count
Coming a mere 14 years after his last and first solo recording, Walter Becker's Circus Money sounds a lot like Steely Dan—jazzy, pop infused rock over witty, somewhat sarcastic and sardonic lyrics. By mixing in a bit of reggae, Becker has released an album that fits in well with the Steely Dan canon, yet stands up well on its own.

Featuring the expected strong production values and superb performances, Becker and company have produced a disc that is equal to any of Donald Fagen's solo offerings and just a notch below the classic Steely Dan releases.

As with any Steely Dan CD or, for that matter, any project headed by Fagen or Becker, the protagonists and characters that populate the songs are a bit desperate. The songs on Circus Money are about the human condition, but more precisely desperation. There are songs about gambling ("Door Number Two"), loss and ultimately regret ("Paging Audrey") and sex ("Door Number Two"), as well as manipulation, lust and all things carnal ("Selfish Gene").

While Fagen's solo recordings—The Nightfly (Reprise, 1982), Kamakiriad (Reprise, 1993), and Morph The Cat (Reprise, 2006)—have been basically concept albums, and the same can be said for many Steely Dan releases, Becker's album is simply an album of songs with similar themes that have come together at a point in time.

Sonically pleasing, the soulful, groove-driven CD is played to perfection by Becker and his cohorts—drummer Keith Carlock, guitarist Jon Herington and keyboardists Ted Baker and Jim Beard. The feel is reminiscent of Steely Dan, but is smaller and slightly more intimate.

Though hardcore Steely Dan fans might at first be a bit surprised at the Jamaican influences—Becker was reportedly listening to a lot of classic Jamaican music prior to writing and recording the album—Circus Money is a disc that reveals more with every listen. The title track is excellent, while "Somebody's Saturday Night" and the aforementioned "Door Number Two" sound like classic Steely Dan. A welcome return.


Track Listing: Door Number Two; Downtown Canon; Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore; Upside Looking Down; Paging Audrey; Circus Money; Selfish Gene; Do You Remember the Name; Somebody's Saturday Night; Darkling Down; God's Eye View; Three Picture Deal.

Personnel: Walter Becker: bass, guitar, vocals; Ted Baker: piano, keyboards, electric piano; Keith Carlock: drums, percussion; Larry Goldings: organ, Hammond organ; Gordon Gottlieb: percussion; Henry Hey: keyboards; Dean Parks: guitar, soloist; Roger Rosenberg: bass clarinet, baritone sax; Larry Klein: bass, producer; Luciana Souza: background vocals, pandeiro, soloist; Tawatha Agee: background vocals; Sweet Pea Atkinson: background vocals; Sir Harry Bowens: background vocals; Sharon Bryant: background vocals; Carmen Carter: background vocals; Terry Dexter: background vocals; Kate Markowitz: background vocals; Cindy Mizelle: background vocals; Windy Wagner: background vocals.

Title: Circus Money | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Mailboat Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Brass Mask Live" CD/LP/Track Review Brass Mask Live
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 1, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.