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