Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #11

The choice of this week’s Sunday Big Note was an easy one as it is also one of our webmaster’s favorites as well. Indeed, it put a smile on my face to learn that he had this very recording in his own private collection for a long time now. On Friday, October 22nd, 2010, in his post entitled “Hey Nineteen“, Barry said:

I’ve always loved Steely Dan’s music. I can see straight linear connections between both theirs and Frank Zappa’s music: the luscious brass sections (in particular with regard to Grande/Petite Wazoo, FZ’s ’88 tour, and so on), the odd chord changes (if, to put it lightly, perhaps more subtle in the case of SD), the obscure, idiosyncratic lyrics, obsessively controlled musical improvisation, above all the superb musicianship. And a sense of humor.


As I recall commenting in Barry’s post at the time:

I’ll admit, Barry, I liked the early Steely Dan, during those first few handful of albums when they were still actually a working, functioning, touring band – up until around the ‘Katy Lied’ album. After that, they were just a studio entity, and that’s around the time, as I recall, that Zappa described their music as “sterile”. I should add, too, that I’m of the opinion that if you cannot reproduce your music for a live audience, all you’ve really created is a nice sounding commodity.

Whether or not you agree with me, both Barry and myself agree that Steely Dan’s performance at the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, England, on May 20th, 1974 gives the listener a superb live Steely Dan experience of that working band before they became a studio entity later that decade:

Intro/Bodhisattva
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-01 Intro _ Bodhisattva.mp3]

The Boston Rag
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-02 The Boston Rag.mp3]

Do It Again
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-03 Do It Again.mp3]

Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-04 Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me).mp3]

King Of The World
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-05 King Of The World.mp3]

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-06 Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.mp3]

Pretzel Logic
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-07 Pretzel Logic.mp3]

Band Introductions
[audio:SBN_20110123_1-08 band introductions.mp3]

My Old School
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-01 My Old School.mp3]

Dirty Work
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-02 Dirty Work.mp3]

Your Gold Teeth II
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-03 Instrumental (Your Gold Teeth II).mp3]

Reelin’ In The Years
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-04 Reelin’ In The Years.mp3]

Crowd And Tuning
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-05 crowd and tuning.mp3]

Show Biz Kids
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-06 Show Biz Kids.mp3]

Crowd And Tuning
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-07 crowd and tuning.mp3]

This All Too Mobile Home
[audio:SBN_20110123_2-08 This All Too Mobile Home.mp3]

Line-up:

Donald Fagen – piano, vocals
Walter Becker – bass
Jeff Baxter – guitar
Denny Dias – guitar
Jim Hodder – drums
Jeff Porcaro – drums
Royce Jones – percussion, vocals
Michael McDonald – electric piano, vocals

6 Responses to “Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #11”

  1. Jeroen says:

    [quote post=”4612″]I should add, too, that I’m of the opinion that if you cannot reproduce your music for a live audience, all you’ve really created is a nice sounding commodity.[/quote]

    Should that apply to, say, Lumpy Gravy or Civilisation Phase III as well?

    I think that music that is not reproducable can be very interesting. The failures and improvisations that make live music are appealing, but there are stdio made artifacts that have value in theri own right.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    While Lumpy Gravy and Civilisation Phase III are interesting exceptions to my opinion, Jeroen, Zappa did perform a medley of Lumpy Gravy at live concerts. I think that Zappa’s Synclavier music (Jazz From Hell, Civilisation Phase III) really cannot be compared to strictly studio created music (like later Steely Dan) since Zappa’s creative process depended so much on the live recording and sound.

  3. helpme says:

    Jeroen (or was it Urbangraffito?) said:

    “I should add, too, that I’m of the opinion that if you cannot reproduce your music for a live audience, all you’ve really created is a nice sounding commodity.”

    If you can reproduce your music for a live audience, is it no longer a commodity, or does it no longer sound nice?

    I’m confuse.

    And did the Steely Dan line up of 74 really have two drummers? At once? I’m not doubting you here, but wondering (why two drummers then, and why not more two drummers now.)

  4. urbangraffito says:

    [quote comment=”23276″]Jeroen (or was it Urbangraffito?) said:

    “I should add, too, that I’m of the opinion that if you cannot reproduce your music for a live audience, all you’ve really created is a nice sounding commodity.”

    If you can reproduce your music for a live audience, is it no longer a commodity, or does it no longer sound nice?

    I’m confuse.

    And did the Steely Dan line up of 74 really have two drummers? At once? I’m not doubting you here, but wondering (why two drummers then, and why not more two drummers now.)[/quote]

    That my quote, helpme. Sorry for the confusion. I’ll attempt to elaborate. As a fan of live music, I’ve always preferred the live music experience over that of the studio. Certainly both live and studio music “sound nice”, yet the live band will almost always rise above their studio versions when interacting with a live audience. I believe Zappa proved this out time and time again, and why Steely Dan returned to the live stage and not the studio.

  5. Joe Crawford says:

    Wonderful find. I had not heard any other versions of Kind of the World before this, really interesting to hear it “live.”

  6. jonnybutter2 says:

    [quote post=”4612″]why two drummers then, and why not more two drummers now.)[/quote]

    It can be a real pain if they aren’t coordinated immaculately, which is one reason why it’s not done that often. But it’s very cool when it does work.

    I never thought I could actually enjoy the song ‘Do It Again’ again, but I did here. Jeff Pocaro is a monster, btw (unless all those off beat things are the other drummer; *somebody* is a monster!)

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