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Everyone's Gone to the Movies
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On this one I start off on guitar with playing octaves on the melody, a typical jazz technique. I then get naughty and change the guitar sound to a shredding, highly flanged sound for the rest of the track. This is another track off the 1975 Katy Lied album.
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Walk Between The Raindrops
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This is typical Steely Dan territory, even though it was on Donald Fagen's Nighfly album (which I contend is the best album Steely Dan never released!). I use my American Clean tone on guitar for the melody, it's quite a complex piece but very satisfying whenever, in typical Steely Dan style, it changes key momentarily like modal jazz. It's short, but sweet!
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
FM (no static at all)
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This is a song that was specifically written to order to be the title theme to the 1978 film FM. It made the US Top Forty that year when released as a single. It had been recorded during the same sessions as Aja and employed some of the same studio musicians and recording personnel, in addition to band members and songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Among them were saxophonist Pete Christlieb and drummer Jeff Porcaro; several members of the Eagles sang backing vocals. It only appears on compilation albums.
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Doctor Wu
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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."
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Green Earrings
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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.
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Haitian divorce
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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).
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Home at Last
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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)
Becker Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)
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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"
Donald Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015
Ruby Baby
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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
Leiber Stoller / jazz pop rock ©2015
Bad Sneakers
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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.
Walter Becker Donald Fagen / jazz pop rock ©2015