Classic Rock Review

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Steely Dan Countdown To Ecstacy (1973)

SteelyDan-CountdownToEcstasy-Front (2)From

No sophomore slump here, though this album wasn’t nearly as commercially successful as its predecessor, in large part because the album lacked any hit singles, though for my money “My Old School” is the best thing that these guys ever did. It sports some perky piano, choice horns, and several jaw dropping guitar solos from “Skunk” Baxter alongside a campy chorus that chugs along for six glorious minutes.

Most of the other songs here are longer, too, as the band extends their swinging grooves on tracks such as the largely instrumental “Your Gold Teeth.” Meanwhile, “Bodhisattva” and “Show Biz Kids” each sport repetitive mantras that are more than redeemed by the dazzlingly sophisticated virtuosity of their instrumental passages.

The former song also showcases the band’s sense of humor, while the latter is a sarcastic putdown of the L.A. lifestyle. Meanwhile, “Razor Boy” and “Pearl of the Quarter” effectively show off the band’s mellower side, proving that they could convey straightforward ballads effectively if the mood so moved them.

The intense “The Boston Rag” (which, in a typical Steely Dan wink of the eye manner, takes place in New York) is another album highlight, while the jazzy but rocking “King of the World” closes things out with an unforgettable synthesizer melody. Overall, Countdown To Ecstasy contains consistently inventive songwriting and inspired performances by the 21 musicians credited, and Fagen’s soothing voice has settled in nicely as being a signature part of their sound.

The end result is an exceptional second effort that expands upon their excellent debut.


March 25, 2013 - Posted by | Steely Dan Countdown To Ecstacy |

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