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Steely Dan - Katy Lied CD (album) cover

KATY LIED

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.64 | 124 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I have to say that I absolutely hated this album for quite a long time. However, for whatever reason, I kept playing it when I accidentally bought it looking for tracks similar to what was then my favorite Steely Dan song "Black Friday". Of course, there is only one similar to that song on here and that is the excellent "Chain Lightning". Everything else on here is a pop/jazz fusion.

A few years later, "Aja", the almost perfect album, came out. I fell in love with the amazing title track on that one almost immediately. The other tracks were excellent too. Suddenly, a new light was shed on this album, which now I think is the closest album to "Aja" that Steely Dan recorded.

So, I called this music a kind of pop/jazz fusion. I hate pop music, unless there is some semblance of originality to it, which there is with this music. There are so many beautiful jazz elements in this music, that I wonder how I missed it at first. The guitar is usually understated, but listen to it closely, especially the solos. You'll notice that the guitar is not always mixed to the front, so it's not always obvious how excellent the guitar work is here. The piano/keyboards are also genius. The music is so simple, yet it's so complex. When I listen to this album, I think about how tough the sessions must have been, because everything is so perfect here, and the guests musicians were plenty, and they were top notch also. The music sounds perfected almost. That is usually a turn off for me, but it sounds so good here. Every note, every sound has it's perfect place throughout the album. It's almost too perfect, which works against it somewhat. But you can really hear how the masterpiece "Aja" would emerge from this kind of music. That album would also have the perfect sound, but all the problems would be worked out and the songs on that album would be allowed to breath a lot more, while the songs on here are not allowed to develop so much, probably in an attempt to win over some radio airplay.

Fagen and Becker put a lot of effort into this album and they were disappointed when the sound wasn't what they expected because they were using new technology at the time. Some of the problems were worked out, but they refused to listen to this album for quite some time. Newer issues of this album have resulted in a cleaner, crisper sound, and the music is so good here that those reissues should be purchased over the original. The original recording was way too soft and the intricacies that make this album so excellent are not as pronounced as they should be, but that problem is worked out in the reissues.

Fans of "Aja" should check this out for music that is similar to that album. Give it time and you'll find the jewels that are abundant in this album, which tends to get ignored by a lot of fans because it moved away from the harder rock sound of their other albums. But to me, it is what gave birth to their masterpiece and what would become their true signature sound. Excellent album.

TCat | 4/5 |

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