ISSUE 9, APRIL 1989

News Lyrics
Pretzel Logic/Katy Lied Crossword

News

Hello again. Welcome to the third year of Metal Leg. Of all the correspondence received here at Metal Leg, by far the biggest portion is simply requesting details of -- or despairing of ever actually surviving long enough to hear -- a new Donald Fagen album. Well, as far as I'm aware there's still nothing on the horizon, but I for one am certainly hoping it will be third-year-lucky in 1989. Seven years between albums is certainly stretching fans' patience and loyalty to the extreme.

Meantime, Donald Fagen did make an unheralded appearance at a small New York club called Elaine's on Monday, March 13th. The outsdie billing advertised a Dr. John gig, and during his set Donald Fagen climbed on stage unannounced and proceeded to jam with Mr. Rebennack, along with Carly Simon, who went up to sing a number or two.

Commenting on the Hoops McCann Band album, Donald Fagen said, "I like their Green Earrings and Black Cow, and I thought Babylon Sisters was really good. What they heard in the structure and chords were things I never thought of. Also, the things they do with harmonics and solos compensate for hearing it without lyrics, which is an equal component in the original recordings.

"A few years before, Woody Herman had done an album, with Chick Corea's tunes on one side and ours on the other. And it had mixed results. The more adventurous arrangements were pretty good, but the less adventurous were ... not so great.

"But (McCann conductor) Joe Roccisano took the originals as a starting point and did something different with them."

Reflecting on Steely Dan, he said, "Our things weren't jazz. There wasn't much improvisation and it was too rigidly constructed. But it's a great side effect of our success that it got a lot of people to listen to jazz who ordinarily had no contact with it. People have told me they started listening to jazz after listening to our records, which is nice." XTC's Dave Gregory, interviewed by Guitarist cited Countdown To Ecstasy as one of his favorite guitar albums of all time. He said: "The exemplary skill of Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias enhances Becker and Fagen's compositional genius. What a great band."

May 2nd saw the release of China Crisis' new Walter Becker-produced album, Diary of a Hollow Horse. It features guitar work by Walter on one track, Day After Day, and a solitary synth contribution from him on the title track. Roger Nichols engineered and his wife, Connie Reed, sang background vocals on a couple tracks. Ex-Dr. Strut man Tim Weston also guested on guitar.

Larry Carlton's new solo album, On Solid Ground, contains a version of Josie. He has recovered from his shooting ordeal, but I'm told his fluid playing style has been inevitably affected by the very severe injuries he received. He cites his faith in God and his second wife's devotion as helping him to overcome this very traumatic period. "I'm not afraid to die now," he says.

Here's another in the series of "What was your most gruelling session" questions. Veteran sessionman Michael Omartian, interviewed in Keyboard, was asked precisely that. "Steely Dan was really demanding. In fact, on the title cut to Donald Fagen's Nightfly album, they gave me a click -- no drums, no nothing, just a click -- and had me play the piano part before they added anything else. Let me tell you, it's not easy to do that with just a quarter-note click going in your head. The end result is always cool, but you sit there and say, 'Why are they doing this to me? Seventeen pages of notes and only a click track! I can't feel anything!' "

What kind of charts do they give you? "In the early days, especially on the Katy Lied album, they'd give me the tape and say, 'Go home and write a chart.' As the years progressed, though, they got more exacting, so you'd see three or four bars of chord symbol changes, then all of a sudden there'd be a raft of chord voicings written out. After that, you're back with the symbols."

On the title cut to Aja you played a lot of piano fills. Were they written out? "Those were off the top of my head. We practiced that one for about three hours, then rolled the tape, did two takes, and kept the first one."

You didn't punch in anything later? "No. The way it went down was what I hear on the record."

Issue 9 contents | Metal Leg overview | The Steely Dan Internet Resource
Last modified on Fri May 31 12:23:08 1996