Friday, 27 November 2015

What we're listening to. The Dan, 'AJA'.


We've already featured their debut, 'Can't Buy a Thrill' (1972) one of the great Steely Dan Albums but AJA (pronounced 'asia') is probably their most highly regarded by Dan fans. There's a highly recommended Dublin tribute band of the same name.

Their 6th Album from 1977 (is that 38 years ago??!!) it's also their best seller and Grammy winner. 

Named after a Korean woman by Donald Fagen, there arguably, was never really was a Steely Dan Band, just a series of session musicians under the Becker/Fagen guidance - who wrote everything. 

We've counted 35 musicians on this Album alone and of course including, the great Michael McDonald on 'Peg' and the fabulously named, Jeff The Skunk Baxter (from later Doobie Brothers fame). There's a magnificent piece of footage somewhere of a gig at The Roundhouse with The Skunk opening those guitar chords for 'Reeling in the Years'.

This is Jazz, more than anything, with huge production values and remember too, as stereo was coming into its own in 1977, new production values brought listeners. Aja was produced by Gary Katz who also did 'Can't buy a thrill' and 'Gaucho' but became legendary (10CC, Bobby Darin, Diana Ross and so on).

Indeed, Floyd's 1973 'Dark Side of the Moon' got huge initial traction using stereo production techniques such as the footsteps walking from speaker to speaker.

'Black Cow', 'Home at last', 'Peg', 'Josie' and the long 8 minute title track 'Aja' all became Dan standards. Classics actually. 

It's hard to fault the Album at all. Beautifully put together, gorgeously produced with some great tunes in a modern, jazz, uplifting way. You get lost in it. Elegant is a good word and if you never listened, do it now. 

Here's an interesting piece about it from a Classic Albums doc....




And here's AJA....