ARTIST: Steely Dan
TITLE: Countdown to Ecstasy
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
CHART ACTION: #35
SINGLES: Showbiz Kids (#61), My Old School (#63)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bohdisattva
LINEUP: Donald Fagan, Walter Becker, Skunk Baxter, Denny Dias, Jim Hodder with Victor Feldman, Ben Benay, Ray Brown, Rick Derringer and session saxophones and backing vocals
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Fantastic second album explores Steely Dan’s jazz leanings without sacrificing rock-and-roll.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With this, their second album, Steely Dan has become a product of the studio. Sure, at this time they still toured, but their sound, scope and style were all dictated by the confines of the studio.
Donald Fagan’s vocals are anything but straightforward; he’s always sounding like he’s up to something, even on the ballad “Pearl of the Quarter”. Meanwhile, his electric piano and keyboards lead the charge into jazz territory, allowing Skunk Baxter and Denny Dias to color each songs with the perfect guitar fills and solos. The songs are immaculately constructed and produced (you can always hear new things in “Your Gold Teeth), and always leave you wanting to hear them again.
There’s not a weak cut, per se. I could take or leave “Showbiz Kids” but I can see even that’s of quality and distinction. Nothing is wasted here, except your time if you want to try to figure out the lyrics. I’d just go with them.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Vocalist David Palmer left the band as Donald Fagan became more comfortable as a singer.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A+: This may not have any hit singles, but dang this cooks, especially the deep cuts like “Razor Boy” and “Your Gold Teeth”. See how they roll.