277

Steely Dan: Everything Must Go

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Steely Dan: Everything Must Go As sophisticated icons of contemporary pop music, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have secured a space within the landscape of modern mainstream culture. Beginning with 1974’s Pretzel Logic, the pair would lead Steely Dan through a number of quintessential albums that featured a slick blending of pop and jazz sensibilities and even today songs like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Black Friday,” and “Hey Nineteen” ring true for fans from multiple generations. And while at times they have been criticized for a clinical precision that puts their music on the lightweight side for some, their ability to stay true to a recognizable identity despite the changing fashions of the past 30 years is somewhat of a marvel.

After 1980’s Gaucho, the Dan called it quits, aside from two solo albums by Fagen and one from Becker. Then in 2000 Two Against Nature appeared as the Dan’s first album of all-new material since 1979. It would also bring them four Grammy awards including Album of the Year. Based on the past track record, one had to assume that the hiatus before a follow-up to Two Against Nature would prove lengthy. But here we are, a mere three years later, with Everything Must Go, and even though its predecessor is arguably a tough act to follow, the results are nothing short of spectacular. From the first notes of “The Last Mall,” that signature sound is omnipresent, albeit with a slight shift in modus operandi. This time around Becker and Fagen would choose to use a core group of musicians as a rhythm section and record everything pretty much live with little overdubbing.

Adding to their repertoire of distinguished characters, this time around we meet several new personalities. On “The Things I Miss the Most,” our leading man laments the loss of his woman, but then goes on to rave about a materialistic longing for his Audi TT, ’54 Stratocaster guitar, and houses “on the Vineyard” and “on the Gulf Coast.” There’s also a return of the clever non-rhyming meter that was so sagaciously utilized on “West of Hollywood.” For “Godwhacker,” a funky groove akin to “Jack of Speed” gets feet tapping but tells a darker tale of a hired gun. Then there’s “Pixeleen,” a sordid tale of virtual sex, ending unexpectedly on pianist Bill Charlap’s ascending flourish.

As par for the course with the Dan, it’s worth perusing the guys’ lyrics in and of themselves for a taste of literary genius. Crafty references abound – “Another Tanqueray,” “Dropped on the streets of Roppongi,” and “The new cashier looks like Jill St. John” – and the message becomes more important than the flow of syllables. Take for instance a day in the sun as described in “Blues Beach,” where Fagen delivers the mouthful “We could rent a paranymphic glider, my hypothetical friend.”

Typical of the group's finest moments, Everything Must Go works its way into your subconcious and lingers long after the last notes have disappeared. It is this type of craftsmanship that Dan fans have always admired and this one will make the grade as well without a hint of reservation.

Track Listing: The Last Mall, Things I Miss The Most, Blues Beach, Godwhacker, Slang Of Ages, Green Book, Pixeleen, Lunch With Gina, Everything Must Go

Personnel: Walter Becker (guitar and vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards and vocals) with various artists including Bill Charlap and Walt Weiskopf

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Reprise | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Starer" CD/LP/Track Review Starer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "A Room of One's Own" CD/LP/Track Review A Room of One's Own
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Meeting At The Parting Place" CD/LP/Track Review Meeting At The Parting Place
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "The Expanding Universe" CD/LP/Track Review The Expanding Universe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Time Being" CD/LP/Track Review Time Being
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 12, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!