Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Steely Dan Countdown To Ectasy 1973

I liked all of the first four Steely Dan records, but this one especially. The twin guitars of Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter, the added color of Victor Feldman's vibes and percussion, and of course the smart songs from Becker and Fagan, it all adds up to a classic.

Bodhisattva, a mostly instrumental driving rocker kicks things off, and the twin guitars are in fine form. Razor Boy is reminiscent of the first record with it's soft pop-rock, and Baxter adds a nice pedal steel to the mix. The Boston Rag is a slow-to-mid-tempo rocker with an tasty guitar lead. Side one ends with Your Gold Teeth, a quick-paced, jazzy tune with a Fagan piano break and a catchy chorus.

Side two opens with both of the singles from the album. Show Biz Kids condemns LA excess with a funky/twangy guitar figure and the hypnotically repeated "Goin' to Las Vegas, Goin' to lost wages" vocal background over a cool lyric. An excellent chicken-pickin' guitar lead from Dias is perfectly in synch with the jittery feel of the song. My Old School is a classic, with another fine lead guitar, and a great lyric that always reminds me of that girl that was just too good for me. A sad country ballad of too brief love, Pearl Of The Quarter features Baxter's pedal steel guitar. The record ends with King Of The World, a fine band effort, with wah-wah rhythm guitar and driving drums that push the song forward. Piano, synth, and guitar leads all add tasty color.

You can really hear the fine live band they had become by this time. They would stop touring a year later, and they would never again be the band that they really were on this record. After this it is Becker and Fagan and hired studio hands. They made some more great records, but never another quite like this.

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