Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No. 385: Pretzel Logic

Band: Steely Dan
Album: Pretzel Logic
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Maybe the band's best album, "Pretzel Logic" is often Steely Dan's most challenging, working odd time signatures, syncopation and complex vocal takes.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I can't speak to the greatness of Steely Dan like others can, but I'm happy with this ranking.
Best song: The first four tracks on this album are un-fucking-stoppable. "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," particularly, is great.
Worst song: I'm not in love with "Charlie Freak."
Is it awesome?: Sure.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter was an original member of Steely Dan. This is what he looks like:

Anyway, he was also in the Doobie Brothers and is something of an accomplished musician. Or he was.

Apparently, because of his love of studio technology and recording equipment, he fell into the missile defense industry. He's currently a consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense. More information is found here and here.


Outside of that, I can't speak to this album much. However, I do know that one particular reader is quite a fan of Steely Dan (and I forgot to ask him to help provide some insight), so, Kelly, take it away in the comments.


kellydwyer said...

I think it's the American "Sgt. Pepper." Doesn't mean it's the best in the pile, but it touches on everything we're made from.

Where the Brits take from music hall, cheeky vaudeville, trad jazz, Anglo-pop, and whimsy; this one takes from Horace Silver, the blues, hard bop, western music (if not country), funk, Brill Building (several of the songs were written while the band was stuck in Brooklyn in the late 60s, trying to sell songs), 60s soul, and smartass irony.

It's what we are. Or, what we should have been in 1974. Not the finest re-telling, but damned good.

kellydwyer said...

Oh, and "Dylan."

"Dylan" should be in there, in between "funk" and "Brill Building."

taotechuck said...

I feel about Steely Dan the way R.J. feels about The Eagles: They have an uncanny ability to strip the soul out of everything they touch. They are technically flawless, but their coldness crushes whatever positive elements their music holds.

With that said, I've not heard this specific album from front to back. My comments are based on the band in general, and Becker and Fagen as musicians. I'll give this a listen.

Zappa did the same kind of thing as Steely Dan, but he did it first, he did it with warmth and heart, and he did it a helluva lot better. The fact that FZ has 2 albums on the list so far and SD has 3, the highest of which is about 100 places above Zappa's highest, suggests to me that Rolling Stone needs to hire some reviewers who aren't deaf.

kellydwyer said...

And ones that are way into dick jokes.