Two For Tuesday: Steely Dan (Yacht Rock)

Rolling Stone magazine called Steely Dan “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.” The band consisted of Donald Fagen on keyboards and lead vocals, the late Walter Becker on guitar, bass, and backing vocals, and a host of session musicians, though in their touring days (which ended in 1974), they featured guitarists Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (now with The Doobie Brothers) and Denny Diaz, keyboardist and vocalist Michael McDonald, and the late Jeff Porcaro on drums. Their music is a mix of rock, jazz, Latin, reggae, traditional pop, R&B and blues blended with cryptic and ironic lyrics. They recorded nine studio albums, seven before they took a hiatus in 1981. I’ll focus on the last two albums from that period, 1977’s Aja and 1980’s Gaucho.

Their most successful single from Aja was “Peg,” which reached #11 on the Hot 10, #30 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #7 in Canada.

“Hey Nineteen” was the lone single from Gaucho. It reached #10 on the Hot 100, #11 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #5 in Canada.

Fagen recorded two solo albums during the band’s hiatus, The Nightfly (1982) and Kamakiriad, produced by Becker (1993). They went on tour to support the latter and soon reunited. They recorded two more studio albums, Two Against Nature (2000) and Everything Must Go (2003), and two live albums, Alive In America (1995) and Plush TV Jazz-Rock Party (2000). Walter Becker died of esophageal cancer in 2017.

Steely Dan, your Two for Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

10 thoughts on “Two For Tuesday: Steely Dan (Yacht Rock)

  1. This is such a great band which I know the name so well but had no clue what the songs were until I started to play them. These are great and I can say I know these songs very well. What a shame he died…too young in my opinion.

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      1. Nightfly is the only one I think. I’d like to see him get together with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs. I’ve missed them the few times they were around. This time I’d go even if the hubs didn’t want to!

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        1. Remember when Michael McDonald was a member of Steely Dan? At least, he sang on a couple of their albums. When he and Skunk joined the Doobies, all of a sudden the Doobies sounded like Steely Dan…

          Never thought of Boz Scaggs, but he’d be a good fit. Did you know Boz started out with Steve Miller?

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          1. No, I didn’t know that. Boz, Michael and Donald toured a few times as the Dukes of Summer. I agree that the Doobies sounded like Steely Dan a bit. Ah, concerts. Will we ever see them live again?

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