Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic

This album is … absolutely essential … with songs like East St. Louis Toodle-Oo. To my mind, this song is the closest the Dan ever actually came to prog. Sure, it’s short, and every note was pre-written by the Duke, but their arrangement is as progressive as it comes. And check out Don’s piano solo! That song alone justifies the price of admission to this album.

Elsewhere, however, what you’ll find are immaculate pop hooks. And you’ll find them all over the place. “Any Major Dude” and “Barrytown” are both feel-good songs, which may not necessarily have feel-good subjects (the former seems to be positive, the latter is about some kind of cult which did actually exist but with which I am not familiar).

If anything aside from their arrangements qualifies the Dan to be “progressive”, it is their lyrics, and this one contains some gems. “Charlie Freak” is probably the best, albeit the most straightforward – a tale of buying a piece of jewelry off a bum who uses the profits to buy, and overdose on, heroin.

I’ve heard “Monkey in Your Soul” called a Led Zeppelin send-up. In that context it falls flat horribly, and I don’t think that’s what the Dan really intended, but as a piece of heavy funk it more than holds its own. This one also contains the radio standard “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, which is not a bad song by any means and actually features some fine guitar playing.

So, on a general scale I’d give this one a 5 easily. It’s probably the Dan’s most consistent and intriguing album, and it has the most going on (my personal favorite is still the next one, Katy Lied).

… Top-notch, all the way.

With permission from Kyle Schmidlin | 4/5 | 2010-11-7

Featured Album

Raymond Gomez – Volume

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson
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