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Band: Steely Dan

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Steely Dan

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Total votes : 236

Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby crustandcrumb on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:42 pm

Since I'm already in this thread I'll comment.

The music they made offends my aesthetic sensibilities. It is in my mind artistically insincere and I think objectively replete with wankery on multiple levels.

You catch me on the right day, though, and a track like this is undeniable:

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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Justin Foley on Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:20 pm

I deliberately listened to "Do It Again" today. Turns out I was wrong. It's mostly pretty awful and so I don't like any Steely Dan songs.

Good.

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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Anthony Flack on Wed Dec 20, 2017 7:42 pm

jimmy two hands wrote:This record is bad. It's the epitome of white dad jazz, just oozing with coke-drenched smarm. Every single note of it is revolting to me. I threw my ipod across the room and I swear a little puff of coke dust blew out of the headphones.


That's normal. Try listening with the earbuds in your nose next time.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby strangeone on Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:54 pm

Great band - lotsa excellent tunes, nobody quite like them at all - Not Crap

Donald Fagen's The Nightfly right up there, too. One of the best sounding fully digital recordings ever made.

Aja and The Nightfly are so good for showing off your stereo system's capabilities.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby strangeone on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:00 pm

crustandcrumb wrote: It is in my mind artistically insincere


You really got to be kidding. Such a horseshit statement if I ever heard one.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby sulfur)addict on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:42 pm

Among the worst there's ever been.

All of the things that their fans say in their defense makes 'em sound that much worse, it's uncanny.

Whatever the Eagles are to country, Steely Dan is to jazz.

That the "geniuses" behind the sleek, desaturated "jazzy" pop rock are unrepentant assholes just means it's one of the easiest CRAPS that ever CRAPPED.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Anthony Flack on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:49 pm

Aja and The Nightfly are so good for showing off your stereo system's capabilities.


It sounds like one of the shop demos for a fancy keyboard, like an expensive Yamaha one.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby geiginni on Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:28 pm

Anthony Flack wrote:
Aja and The Nightfly are so good for showing off your stereo system's capabilities.


It sounds like one of the shop demos for a fancy keyboard, like an expensive Yamaha one.


I always hated/still hate when people use Steely Dan to demo audio gear. This stuff was specifically mixed to sound great on a fucking clock-radio. It really sounds good no matter what you're hearing it on, and provides no objective basis for judging the quality of a system's or component's performance. Everything is baby-shit smooth and dialed in just so.

I like punishing raw source material for auditioning equipment. Things with a lot of hard transients, complex harmonic intermodulation and wide dynamic and spectral ranges. Some favorites are "Floret silva nobilis" from Carmina Burana (or other mixed orchestral/choral works like Beethoven's 9th, 4th movement, Brahms' German Requiem, or "Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" from Haydn's Die Schopfung. Or punishing piano music, like Boulez's Second Piano Sonata, Ravel's Mirrors and such. Some of Steve's mixes are good for that too, or Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Anthony Flack on Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:12 pm

I think it's remarkable how a bunch of the top session musicians in the world, when captured in a world-class studio by an artist notorious for their perfectionism, sounds just like a MIDI demo on a cheesy keyboard. It was a lot of effort, but they totally nailed it.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby geiginni on Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:58 pm

Anthony Flack wrote:I think it's remarkable how a bunch of the top session musicians in the world, when captured in a world-class studio by an artist notorious for their perfectionism, sounds just like a MIDI demo on a cheesy keyboard. It was a lot of effort, but they totally nailed it.


Cart before the horse. What's more remarkable is that a bunch of Japanese keyboard designers and engineers decided the best sounds for their product were all to be sounds from 70s Steely Dan records. And they totally nailed it.

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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby 154 on Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:57 pm

geiginni wrote:
Anthony Flack wrote:I think it's remarkable how a bunch of the top session musicians in the world, when captured in a world-class studio by an artist notorious for their perfectionism, sounds just like a MIDI demo on a cheesy keyboard. It was a lot of effort, but they totally nailed it.


Cart before the horse.


Yeah. It's more like they perfected typography by hand 5 years before the word processor was invented. It's kind of an admirable achievement but not a future proof one!
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Anthony Flack on Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:51 pm

What's more remarkable is that a bunch of Japanese keyboard designers and engineers decided the best sounds for their product were all to be sounds from 70s Steely Dan records.


For the reasons mentioned further up: it's the kind of music that makes people think they are hearing a high quality sound system even if it's not.

But I think mostly it's that the kind of vacuum-sealed perfectionism they pursued ends up just naturally resembling MIDI music. The jazzy complexity translates well to a keyboard sequencer demo, and the airless studio sheen translates well to being recreated from isolated samples.

Rather than typography by hand I'm gonna go with the analogy of learning to paint in a way that looks exactly like bad CGI but before CGI was invented. Or maybe I should avoid analogies since they're usually trouble. And honestly I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make anyway but it's along similar lines I think.

Something about how our values change as our relationship to technology changes. Steely Dan's pursuit of slickness seems very 70s to me; it's in the category of things that has since been made easy by computers and subsequently degraded in value. They sound computer-slick, something that people who still make things with their hands usually try consciously to avoid these days.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Bernardo on Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:36 pm

I don't get this whole thing, my enjoyment of Steely Dan has absolutely zero to do with how polished it sounds, and more than ten years into my FOH career I never once played Steely Dan (or any other pre-recorded music, for that matter) to align or check out a system. Theirs are certainly not among my favourite sounding records (no matter how long the list), if you are to pointlessly abstract the sonics from the aesthetics they're there to convey, and yet a couple of their records are in my pantheon of great albums.

Every band has an aesthetic that works for them. Raw, polished, tight, sloppy, neither of these characteristics really mean anything without context. One of SD's most engaging aspects, for the people who like the band, is Fagen's weird singing, and his is absolutely NOT a voice anyone would consciously choose to feature in order to sound PRO.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby sulfur)addict on Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:28 pm

Yeah, the impossible arrogance behind his weedy voice really separates Steely Dan from your run-of-the-mill bullshit like Chicago and ELO.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Bernardo on Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:16 pm

sulfur)addict wrote:Yeah, the impossible arrogance behind his weedy voice


How did I never notice the arrogance? Damn.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Get dog costumes on Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:25 pm

Bernardo wrote:Every band has an aesthetic that works for them. Raw, polished, tight, sloppy, neither of these characteristics really mean anything without context. One of SD's most engaging aspects, for the people who like the band, is Fagen's weird singing, and his is absolutely NOT a voice anyone would consciously choose to feature in order to sound PRO.

Good points. Their production serves their music, as with many other things we like. In their specific case, if you need to record Jeff Porcaro or Steve Gadd playing drums, and triple-track Michael McDonald on backing vocals, you wouldn't ask Gary Young to do it in his studio.

"Gaucho" is among the funniest songs I've ever heard, and it would not be so if it weren't so polished.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Anthony Flack on Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:46 am

If your argument is that the central enigma of Steely Dan is how a guy with only a borderline passable singing voice should yet be so obsessive about remixing his tracks hundreds of times and being endlessly dissatisfied with the performances of his session musicians, you may be on to something there.

I give the Dan a hard time because I do find their music pretty horrible and their studio practice ridiculous. But at least it's a weird kind of horrible from genuinely strange people.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Bernardo on Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:00 am

Anthony Flack wrote:I give the Dan a hard time because I do find their music pretty horrible and their studio practice ridiculous. But at least it's a weird kind of horrible from genuinely strange people.


That's the thing, it's so obviously genuine, they were not obsessive because they were afraid to sound incompetent or to please anyone else, but because that was their vision. Nobody has to like it, but I think it's unique.

I'd rather have one Steely Dan and one Shellac in the world than having two Shellacs, and there are certainly more than two Shellacs, so to speak. I can't think of anyone who apes Steely Dan consistently. The last fifteen years, on the other hand, have given us plenty of Gang of Four clones. I find something like that to be so much more annoying.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby sulfur)addict on Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:46 am

That is hilarious.

They obsessively pursued their vision at the expense of every studio musician and budget and nostril in sight, and it still sounds the way it does. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Do It Again," fuckin' "Peg," all the products of endless self-examination and staunch artistic perfectionism.

I wonder if Steely Dan liked The Fountainhead.
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Re: Band: Steely Dan

Postby Bernardo on Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:20 am

Not really what I wrote, but ok.
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