Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
Steely Dan holds the title as one of the most quietly subversive pop bands of the 20th century. They managed - on their first two albums and, especially, on Pretzel Logic - to combine breezy, ear-pleasing accessibility with an immensely sophisticated sensibility that upended most pop conventions. On Pretzel Logic that combination is perfected, even as band masterminds Donald Fagen and Walter Becker moved deeper into jazz-influenced territory. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number", the album's lead off track, is a case in point. A sinuous slice of jazz-pop that merges piano balladry with a samba-esque groove, the song became a Top Ten hit.
Though Fagen and Becker write the material and handle vocals/keyboards and bass, respectively, their recording process increasingly involved a rotating cast of session musicians, honing their studio-cobbled sound to a flawless perfection. The bar is raised in terms of musicianship here, as evidenced by the sassy cover of Duke Ellington's "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo and the bop atheleticism of "Parker's Band", a tribute to Charlie Parker. Yet Steely Dan blend their colours ever more effectively here, writing shorter, sharper compositions packed with harmonies, instrumental interplay, witty wordplay, and satisfying hooks. Pretzel Logic ranks alongside AJA as one of the band's finest achievements.
Release Date: 28th July 2023
Label: UMR / Polydor
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