1975: Katy Lied
Rated as: Album
Album Status: Genre Contender
Specific Genre: Pop Rock
Main Genre: Pop
Undertones: Jazz Pop, Jazz-Rock, Soft Rock
Side A: 1. Black Friday 2. Bad Sneakers 3. Rose Darling 4. Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More 5. Doctor Wu
Side B: 6. Everyone’s Gone to the Movies 7. Your Gold Teeth II 8. Chain Lightning 9. Any World (That I’m Welcome to) 10. Throw Back the Little Ones
Bad sneakers and a piña colada, my friend
Steely Dan is the most highly acclaimed band I have not connected with (yet), they’re not for me, but I am very much aware they are for other people. I can only tell you why I don’t like it, so you might be aware what you’ll find. I know this is going to be a list of things that make fans go “but that’s what it’s all about!” – I have this reaction myself when someone does this to art I myself love and I think it’s fair: we’re all here to find things we like, and even this conversation might help.
So let’s keep this short: I don’t like the polished production, I don’t like the sneakily subversive pop chord tricks they do (they always leave me uninterested, as if they were more of a sly comment on subversion, not the real thing), I find their melodies immaculately constructed and tedious. They are clearly a musician’s musicians’ band. I’m no musician.
Here is my first and lasting impression, which has only changed insofar as I felt a need to contextualise it: To get an idea what Steely Dan find clever, here’s an album called Katy Lied sporting a katydid on the cover (get it!?). Take a bunch of well-written and / but formulaic jazz pop songs with ultra-slick production, add clever arrangements, clever lyrics that make the glitziness look „tongue in cheek“, let them be played by super-professional late-night-show-musicians, and what you get as a result is… well-written and / but formulaic pop songs with ultra-slick production, and clever arrangements, and clever lyrics, and professional musicianship, and so on.