Friday, December 28, 2012

Donald Fagan Sunken Condos 2012

I've been bugged about Fagan's work for a long time. I really loved the original Steely Dan, especially Countdown To Ecstasy 1973, but all of the first four records. That was before Becker and Fagan incorporated the smooth jazz-lite sound that would reach it's pinnacle with Aja 1977 and Gaucho 1980.

Those records, and this new one, were lovingly recorded and are sonic delights. But sonics will only get you so far, and after that there better be great songs and performances.

I really shouldn't review this work, because frankly, I struggle with the sterile, soulless sound that Fagan has perfected. Cool detachment has always been a theme of his lyric writing, and so why not express the same in the music?

This is a pretty good outing for Fagan. Slinky Thing, Weather In My Head, The New Breed, Isaac Hayes' Out Of The Ghetto, and the almost-funky Good Stuff are all right up there with Fagan's better work. But don't look for anything new here. The melodies he's been writing over and over since 1977. The jazz-lite arrangements and ultra-cool, ultra-slick, ultra-clean recording and performances are all here. If you like his work, here's more of it.

I just can't get moved by what he does. It is too slick. Rock, and for that matter, jazz, has always benefited from the occasional lucky mistake. Everything here is perfect.

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