STEELY DAN — Countdown to Ecstasy (review)

STEELY DAN — Countdown to Ecstasy album cover Album · 1973 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
seyo
The sophomore act of SD presents a big step forward into a crossover/fusion territory, if compared with the debut. Compositions are a bit longer, better produced and developed with full advantages of the studio technology. The sound is impeccable - Fagen's voice is excellent in delivering those dark, twisted and cynical lyrics about Hippies' fake embrace of the Eastern philosophies ("Bodhisattva"), low life and misery of the American suburbia ("The Boston Rag", "Pearl of the Quarter", "Razor Boy") or the consequences of facing the images of American Dream ("Show Biz Kids").

The overall album is much darker than its predecessor while several songs are noticeably influenced by both progressive rock of the era and by classic jazz. Wonderful instrumental passages of Fagen's piano and amazing guitar work of Dias, Baxter and especially Derringer on "Show Biz Kids" are nothing short of masterpiece.

"Countdown to Ecstasy" also contains one of the most unusual songs I ever heard - "Show Biz Kids". Singing about lost wages in Las Vegas (female backing voices allegedly sing these lines in a rhythmic manner throughout the song), the song is complex but yet sound simple due to unchanged rhythm. There are many overdubbed layers on top of which rests the phenomenal slide guitar bursting out courtesy of the guest player Rick Derringer.

Even if you consider STEELY DAN too mainstream or song- oriented for your unique jazz/prog/avant collection, you should try with this album. The crooner-like ballad "Pearl of the Quarter" and pop-soul of the hit "My Old School" prevents me from giving full 5 stars.
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