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#145 - Aja (Steely Dan)

by 14783513 |

Although I've been reading today that Steely Dan tends to be played in department stores or on elevators, this album, Aja (pronounced like "Asia") has got some sexy, sexy jazz-influenced pop-rock sounds. They're great! Steely Dan is really made up of two guys, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who had many different artists work with them in-studio on their albums. Their first platinum album, Aja, was released in 1977. I listened to a remastered version of the album, although it would be really cool to listen to the original LP. Here's the track listing: [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="204" caption="Image via Wikipedia"] 
Aja (album)[/caption]
Album Art for Aja, 1977.
Side One
  1. Black Cow
  2. Aja
  3. Deacon Blues
Side Two
  1. Peg
  2. Home At Last
  3. I Got The News
  4. Josie
Apparently Steely Dan are known for being perfectionists in the recording studio, and that definitely comes through when you listen to this album. Start to finish, it's got crisp orchestrations that go beyond just the recording quality (which really, the quality could be due to remastering). The tracks on this album ring with a very cohesive and intentional, groovy sound. The first track, "Black Cow", sets the tone of the album with slow mix of synths, guitar, and some smooth-sounding horns. Its a great combo. That said, the first track isn't one of my favourites, but it definitely captured my interest. I've listened to this album a few times, and what I've noticed is that there are lots of intriguing lyrical references (Black Cow is actually something like a mix of coke and root beer, sometimes with ice cream...or alcohol. am I right?), but all those lyrical references are intermingled with songs that sound pleasant and have enough of a pop-twinge to fool you into thinking that they are sweet love songs. Most of them have to do with getting high, drunk escapades, or various ladies. At least I think so? So what to say about this album...I can definitely hear the department store/elevator song on these albums, but I really dig the groovy jazz-rhythms and the precision on each recording. I looked up a photo of Steely Dan from this year, and they do not look like rockin' gentlemen - they look like established, theoretical, and very-carefully orchestrated musicians. But what do I know?! Oh, and that was a total judgment. I know. Again, great album, and I would recommend a listen. My advice would be to stick it out and listen to the entire album. Don't turn it off after "Black Cow" like I wanted to. Enjoy, friends!

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