Album: Can’t Buy a Thrill
. . .
I’m not gonna lie: it’s kinda weird that I’m doing two artists in a row that started out as a band and ended up as a duo. Though, obviously Donald Fagen and Walter Becker figured out how to stay together like after Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan went their separate ways.
I should also point out that outside of their early batch of singles, I have far more respect for Steely Dan than I have love, and so both lovers and haters should know that after 1974, they felt more of a menace than a pleasure, dominating the radio with incredibly high-quality songs that just didn’t do it for me.
But I well and truly loved their early singles, the first of which was this piece of precise groove, full of percussion and electric piano that opened their debut album, Can’t Buy A Thrill, with a full minute of the whole band riding that groove as guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter tossed in licks here and there before Donald Fagen started singing.
In the mornin you go gunnin’
For the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in
But they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all sangin’
As they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn’t hangin’
And they put you on the street
And without even taking a break, they glide directly into the cynical chorus.
Yeah, you go back, Jack, do it again
Wheel turnin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again
After the second chorus, there is a long long instrumental break, which features a cool-sounding electric sitar solo by Denny Dias followed an even cooler-sounding organ solo by Donald Fagen. One thing I don’t remember: how much was cut from the single version that I heard all the time on 13 KYNO, but my guess is that it was the second half of the sitar solo and all of the organ solo. Naturally, FM was playing the whole thing, and now that’s all anybody knows.
That said, the single mix must have been effective, because “Do It Again” rode its effortlessly cool sound straight into the top ten, stalling out at #6, and basically announcing Steely Dan as a major force in the 1970s.
NOTE: on the live version below, it’s David Palmer singing the leads (and Baxter on the bongos) as they brought him in because Fagan wasn’t comfortable singing live, a precursor to their decision to not do concerts at all, making them a weird link between the Beatles and XTC.
“Do It Again”
“Do It Again” live on the Midnight Special, 1973
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