Tag: Steely Dan

Original v. Cover — #50 in a Series

Charlie Chaplin Pictures, Images and Photos

This week’s cover version was performed by an album-rock oriented jazz rock group who became known to the country in 1972 with their first ever Top 40 hit, which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 18, 1972, rising to #6 in 1973.  Although the song was credited to “Trad”, it was actually co-written by the group’s two enigmatic leaders.  It was written in the key of G minor, employing a significant amount of syncopation in the vocal melody, which was somewhat rare in rock music at the time.  It was also one of the first times in pop music in which the pitch-shifting technique was used during the organ solo.  An electric sitar solo was also included for additional effect.  

The group itself peaked in popularity in the late 1970s, having released seven albums that were a unique mix of jazz, rock, funk, R&B and pop.  Rolling Stone magazine referred to them as “The perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.”  Contrary to the simple 1-4-5 chord sequence of classics such as “Louie, Louie”, the group’s songs were characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies, not exactly the kind of music that most musicians could play by ear unless they were very talented.  Their lyrics have been referred to as “cerebral, wry and eccentric”, punctuated by sharp sarcasm, exploring themes such as crime, drugs, love affairs and their true-to-life contempt for hippie culture.  

Popular Culture (Music) 20101001: Steely Dan

Those of you who read this column regularly know that I am a big fan of the British Invasion era bands.  This is not to say that I hold American bands in disdain.  Actually, that could not be more untrue, because the revolution in early American music made possible the British Invasion.  Without Buddy Holly (Sir Paul is reputed to have a pair of his cufflinks), Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and many, many others, the British Invasion never would have happened.

But that was then.  This evening I wish to point out what I consider to be one of the very best American bands, and they are still with us.  Considering the circumstances, it is unlikely that they ever came to be, and considering one of their performers really self destructive habits, it is a wonder that they continue.

On Music Appreciation, Part Two, Or, Records Only Have One Groove

It was just yesterday that we decided to take a day off from politics and talk about music, both familiar and not so much; the conversation ran a bit long, and when we got halfway through we decided to get together tomorrow.

It was pretty fun, what with sewers and male models and Gorillaz and all, and when we had put down the pen it was just after taking in Sarah Vaughan’s reworked dance version of the Peggy Lee classic, “Fever”.

They say tomorrow never comes…but now it has…and we have eight more songs to talk about before we can finish our multigenerational “Summer Music Appreciation Playlist”.

Today we’ll incorporate jazz and dance, the invention of modern musical recording, arguably the greatest saxophone player ever, and a shout out to “our man in Paris”.

If all that wasn’t enough, we also discover what happens when you graft a certain Pepper onto Jamaica’s musical tree.

You don’t want to stop now, so jump on board and let’s get this train rollin’.

See the glory…

…of the royal scam

They are hounded down

To the bottom of a bad town

Amid the ruins

Where they learn to fear

An angry race of fallen kings

Their dark companions

While the memory of

Their southern sky was clouded by

A savage winter

Every patron saint

Hung on the wall, shared the room

With twenty sinners

See the glory

Of the royal scam

This is an open thread…