Don't Take Me Alive
2015
Guitar fans... I recreate, rather successfully, the original iconic Larry Carlton guitar solo on the intro note for note. The track wouldn't have been the same! "Don't Take Me Alive" is the third track from the fifth Steely Dan album the Royal Scam. Written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of course. Leaving no mystery to the lyrics, "Don't Take Me Alive" is about a violent criminal holed up with "a case of dynamite" telling the cops to shoot him
Kid Charlemagne
2015
This track features THAT guitar solo. It is rated by many as one of the top ten guitar solos of all time. The original guitarist on the record, Larry Carlton, pulled a real classic out of the bag and I kept putting off doing this track because I knew I had to recreate it note for note. It is such an integral part of the track I couldn't possibly just do my own solo, I had to do my version of it. I did it pretty much note for note but, I hope, in my own inimitable style. What makes it so good? It's a text book case of good taste and technique on a par with Mozart. The musical theory is impeccable, Larry constructed it using impressive arpeggios of the many complex chords. He runs up and down scales thinking out of the box by inserting ridiculously chosen passing notes that just shouldn't work.
The Fez
2015
If you don't know what a Fez is, it's a Moroccan hat worn popularly by comedic characters; Tommy "just like that" Cooper (UK) and Groucho Marx was apt to wear one in his more sartorial moments! This is the only Steely Dan song with a third credited writer, Paul Griffin, who also plays organ on the original song. On a BBC Online chat March 4, 2000, Donald Fagen said, "The Fez was recorded using a rhythm chart but there were a few bars missing and Paul Griffin, the keyboard player on the day, came up with a nice little melody, so we felt we should include him in the writer credits." It originally appeared on the 1976 Royal Scam album.
Every Breath You Take
2015
I've had this track on the back burner for years. It's such a brilliant track and I wanted to do it justice so it has gone through a number of versions to reach this point. I knew I wanted to throw in some jazz chords and slow it down, which is what I did, but I had to wait until I had learnt enough to formulate a decent production. The moral of this story then is... All things come to those who wait.
An English Man In New-York
2015
This is another Sting song I play mostly on guitar but hand over the chorus to trumpet. Don't miss the use of the "whammy bar" on the solo! The "Englishman" in question Sting refers to is the famous eccentric and gay icon Quentin Crisp. Sting wrote the song not long after Crisp moved from London to an apartment in the Bowery in Manhattan. Crisp had remarked jokingly to the musician "that he looked forward to receiving his naturalization papers so that he could commit a crime and not be deported."
If I ever lose my faith in you
2015
This is another Sting song I use an unusual instrumentation on, with fretless bass doing all the heavy lifting on both the main melodies and then the solo. I play only adlibs on guitar during this track, you can tell as early on as the intro it is very Steely Dan/Larry Carlton! This track is written by Sting of course during his early solo career away from the Police, so early nineties. It was the second single from his album Ten Summoner's Tales and was released in 1993
Ruby Baby
2015
Not strictly a Steely Dan Track this is from Donald Fagen's Nightfly album. It's as close as he gets to classic Steely tracks. I always thought Fagen wrote it but it is actually a cover they did of a Liber Stoller song. They know a good song when they see one. My approach is to jump genres with the beats; there's Dubstep and Disco there! Some horns and a clavinet bassline later and - Voila! It was actually written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, not Fagen. It was originally recorded by The Drifters. Their version was released on a single by Atlantic Records in 195
I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)
2015
This is from Donald Fagen's Nightfly album. It's as close as he gets to classic Steely tracks like Doctor Wu. I give it bit of a modern pop flavour with the sampled, repetitive vocal pattern There's loads of melody I could pick out on the guitar too, I'm pleased with the solo which is typically Dan-eaque. You gotta dig their effortless key changes. It was the first track of his debut solo album The Nightfly, and was released in September 1982 as its first single, charting on the Billboard Hot 100, Mainstream Rock, R&B Singles and Adult Contemporary charts. The "I.G.Y." of the title refers to the "International Geophysical Year"
Home at Last
2015
HAL is a great little groove. Very typical Steely Dan chord progressions. I manage to play a lot of the melody on guitar during this track. Some Steely tracks melodies can be limited to a couple of notes for the vocals (e.g. Black Friday). This one has a beautiful melody, complete with those odd little passing notes and key changes we know and love (Becker/Fagen for). I'm very pleased with the solo on this one. You can't beat the Steelys to improvise over. It's tough to play with such a clean sound and guitar tone but this you can get #in the pocket' of. It's bluesey, it's jazzy, and, as you know, I'm sparing with the number of notes I play per musical bar. I'm out to be the most expressive I can be - and that means making the most you can of the notes you've got (and the silences between them)
Haitian divorce
2015
This track was marked by its distinctive 'voicebox' guitar, quite an innovation at the time when it was initially released Technology has moved on so much since the original track was recorded. The original voice box was a tube attached to your amp the sound from which went up a plastic tube and you mouthed vowels etc with your mouth close to a microphone. I have a pedal with a superb setting that does in digitally! I don't use it often but when I do I love it. So you get a clean guitar solo and a voice box one too for the same money! I always wondered why the almost reggae beat - that would mean it was called Jamaican Divorce! Slick move Donald to not do the obvious).
Green Earrings
2015
At first glance this is a 12 bar blues and on one level it is but on another this is actually modal jazz with three tonal centres. Great to solo over, once you've worked out the key changes! It's a driving piece and I use a dirtier guitar sound to be in character. It's got a bit of a House beat lurking underneath if you can spot it! This is about a jewel thief who feels no remorse whatsoever in what he does, even when he steals from a lover.
Doctor Wu
2015
One of the Steelies most melodic tracks that lends itself well to guitar taking the main parts, as well as a solo. Plenty of horns in the middle eight. This song seems to be about a betrayed loser lover talking to his eccentric shrink, who perhaps has stolen the guy's girl. It features the signature Steely Dan irony: "All night long, we would sing that stupid song, and every word we sang I knew was true."
Chain Lightning
2015
Here I've arranged the horns to take the main role on what is ostensibly a 12 bar. The guitar is left to do the improvisation, keeping it slow and buesey. This is yet another Steely Dan track that is timeless. on http://www.songfacts.com/ they say Chain Lightning is a simple 12 bar blues tune that has a swampy twang to it. This blues-ey track has an almost burlesque feel to it and if you close your eyes while listening to it, you can imagine that you are inside of a nineteen fifties vintage strip club with the requisite drummer performing while the strippers are doing their thing.
Black Cow
2015
Plenty of melody and emotion to hang your hat on in this tune. I opt for a nice clean 'American' sound to get my Ovation Breadwinner over. Another from the Aja album. The Steelys are nothing, if not commercial. "Black Cow" was written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the co-front, core members of the band Steely Dan. It was released as the B-side of the single version of "Josie," which reached #26 on the US Hot 100. Two other singles released from the same album charted even better. Note the deceptively simple disco-era instrumental starting out with a bass line and drums, then sneaking in layers of complexity with saxophone accompaniment and an electric piano solo. Steely Dan made a name for themselves for having highly polished productions.
Bad Sneakers
2015
I've really given this on a pop dance treatment. There's Electro and Disco going on in different places. Otherwise it's business as usual, the lead guitar picking out the melody and a solo later on (at 1 min 50) Bad Sneakers was released as the second track on the Steelies 1975 album Katy Lied. Apparently producer Gary Katz later regretted not releasing the song as the first single.
Seven Steps To Heaven
2015
This track features my usual brand of mayhem and madness when covering jazz standards. I've underpinned it with a modern house beat that really makes it swing. Originally a 1963 jazz composition by the English jazz pianist Victor Feldman and the jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It's a popular choice with drummers because it features many stops where drum fills can be, and are, unleashed!
Early AM
2015
Dave Grusin / Lee Ritenour Early A.M. Attitude Composed by Dave Grusin
Blue Train
2015
This track absorbs House and Elektro beats and doesn't blink! Blue Train is the second studio album by John Coltrane, released in 1958 on Blue Note Records, catalogue BLP 1577. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, it is Coltrane's second solo album, the only one he recorded for Blue Note as a leader, and the only one he conceived personally for the label.John Coltrane's next major album, 1960's Giant Steps, would break new melodic and harmonic ground in jazz, whereas Blue Train adheres to the hard bop style of the era
Kari
2015
This is from One on One a smooth jazz, crossover jazz studio album by Bob James and Earl Klugh. This album earned the two artists the Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1981
James
2015
I have to admit to not being a Pat Metheny fan. Not that I don't rate him, I just don't know much about him. When I heard this track I just knew I wanted to cover it. This is from Offramp is the Grammy Award winning third album by Pat Metheny Group, released in 1982
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
2015
We all like music that swings, this one introduced the world to the notion of swing and presaged the swing era by three years. I keep close to the sentiment of the original, it pushed the envelope with some crazy horn parts as it steam rollered along! This is another signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra, along with Take The A Train which I have also have covered. It Don't Mean a Thing was written in 1931 by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Irving Mills
Moanin'
2015
I give this track the full jazz House makeover and it is a testament to it's longevity that it sound comfortable with a 'modern' treatment. I give it a Marcus Miller spin and a hard rock guitar solo, just to mix it up! Moanin' is one of those tunes that everyone has heard regardless of whether, or not, you follow jazz. It is a composition by Bobby Timmons and the title track from jazz album by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recorded in 1958
Take The A Train
2015
On this track I indulge my usual inclination to do something rebellious when playing jazz standards. There's House, Techno and Elektro beats pushing it forward and some crazy distorted guitar. It's a short track so I hope it leaves you wanting more! The magical riff is repeated on several instruments throughout the track. It is, of course, a jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn that was the signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra. It first appeared in 1939 so it is a testament to its timeless quality that I want to play it, and you want to listen to it, today
Song For Bilbao
2015
This track is by Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny is a Latin/smooth jazz piece. The horn section is the major feature here. It’s a crowd favorite that seems to well within the jazz tradition even though it can be done with almost a rock groove