Steely Dan

Episode 399: How To Make Friends And Influence People By Becoming A Steely Dan Fan

Episode 399: How To Make Friends And Influence People By Becoming A Steely Dan Fan

For many, the music of Steely Dan is an enigma. For us…it’s our lifeblood.

On our penultimate broadcast from a basement in Washington, D.C., Dead To Me’s Casey Rae and Eduardo Nunes are sitting in to fulfill a promise that Kevin made long ago, and turning up the nerd to nigh impossible levels in the process. Any major dude will tell you that whether you’re a super-fan or just Steely Dan curious, this episode is probably your destiny.

It sure as hell was ours.

Episode 310: Wide Open - Michael McDonald

Episode 310: Wide Open - Michael McDonald

Between the domestic terrorist attack in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of over fifty people and injured some 500 more and the passing of music legend Tom Petty, it's been a pretty rough week. Kevin has some thoughts about both. 

Michael McDonald is a legend and a virtual Zelig of the music industry. He has sung and played on your favorite hits, your favorite band's favorite hits, and delivered a few of em all on his own. Now he's back with Wide Open, his first collection of songs in nine years, and Kevin along with friends Marcus K. Dowling (Decades, DC Radio) and Casey Rae (author, 'The Priest They Called Him: William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll') are heading down to the basement to give it a listen.

PLUS! Washington, DC's The North Country is back with a new album, In Defense Of Cosmic Altruism, and we've got our favorite track for you to shove in your earholes!

Steely Dan W/Elvis Costello and the Imposters at Jiffy Lube Live - 8/5/2015

Steely Dan W/Elvis Costello and the Imposters at Jiffy Lube Live - 8/5/2015

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan and Walter Becker have been making music together for nearly half a century now, a fact that was not lost on Becker as he introduced their backing band at Jiffy Lube Live last Wednesday.  The duo is known for their almost-too-slick 70s FM radio production (“no static at all”) that belies a dark underworld of shady characters, seedy locales, and questionable goings-on.  Blending soft rock tropes with complex jazz scales and time signatures is no easy feat, but Fagan and Becker are the masters at it.  With a 12-person band backing them, it takes a lot of work to sound so smooth.

ROCKTOBER 2012: 1977 - This is the Day of the Expanding Man

What a year. 1977 saw the first test flight of the Space Shuttle, the incorporation of Apple, and the release of the first personal computer—the Commodore PET. There were events that would affect the life-philosophies of little boys and girls for the foreseeable future—the release of the first Star Wars movie and of the Atari 2600. It saw the death of a King (Elvis) and the birth of a slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar). It saw the completion of long projects, now no more--the Concorde and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (designed to withstand and impact of a Boeing 707—a common commercial plane at the time). Steven Biko died in a South African jail, the first MRI scanner was tested in Brooklyn, and GPS was ushered in by the US government. All of these events had the effect of moving the collective to be better, to be different, to expand.

The effects of 1977 are still expanding popular music. Punk had its start a few years earlier, but the release of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks. Here’s the Sex Pistols slammed the genre into the ears of complacent mid-1970’s “rock” music listeners with all the subtlety of a steel-toed boot. Rock had arguably lost a lot of the biting edge that had so wonderfully angered adults of the 1950’s. Unfortunately, Punk also meant a loss of virtuosity. The Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Stranglers, Iggy Pop - all proved that you could make seriously compelling music without having studied at Berkley or Eastman. To this day though, hipsters often consider a band less than authentic if its members can actually play their instruments and exhibit this proficiency either on stage or in recordings. To quote one such lost soul overheard at a show at the 9:30 Club featuring some of the best musicians of this modern day: “they’re just wankin’ off.”

Rocktober Day 29: Steely Dan...all of it


We’re getting close to the end folks, and unsurprisingly we’re sort of running out of steam. When I decided on this year’s theme, I had NO IDEA how hard it would actually be to find 31 albums that are worth your time and ours. And so it is today we step a little outside the box and talk about the band that people either love or hate, either get or do not. It’s a band that is near and dear to my heart (in fact my favorite band) and it pains me to eviscerate them in the manner I’m about to, but it simply must be.

The band I’m speaking of is none other than Steely Dan. Now I know, I know...It’s a fact that this rotating cast of musicians rotating around Donald Fagan and Walter Becker are some of the best makers of music that the world has ever seen. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar? GET THE F@!# OUTTA HERE!! The man is an absolutely monster. Jim Hodder on drums. OH.MY.GOD. As for Fagan and Becker? Master musicians and songwriters who can switch from jazz to rock, to well, whatever they want at the drop of a hat.

Over the course of 8 albums, group produced some heady, HEADY music throughout the 70’s. In fact without hits like “Do It Again”, “Reelin’ In The Years”, “Kid Charlemagne”, “Hey Nineteen”, “My Old School” and more the 70’s might not have been quite the period of grooviness that it is known for. Steely Dan soundtracked the shit that was going down in an intelligent, complex, and most of all catchy way that has survived the test of time.

But then there’s the rest of their catalog.