The band performing in the video above is Steely Dan. But it doesn’t sound fairly like Steely Dan, an impression partially defined by it being a reside present slightly than the type of perfectionist studio recordings for whose meticulous building (and repeated reconstruction) the group’s very identify has lengthy been a byword. However its founding masterminds Walter Becker and Donald Fagen hadn’t but settled into that complexly pristine aesthetic on the time of this look, which aired fifty years in the past subsequent week on The Midnight Particular. Again then, having put out solely their first couple of albums, they may nonetheless current their challenge as a comparatively standard early-seventies rock band.
It helped that that they had a comparatively standard frontman in singer David Palmer, who handles lead vocals on their Midnight Particular efficiency of “Do It Once more,” Steely Dan’s first hit. That he didn’t achieve this on the studio recording underscores that the band is genuinely taking part in reside, not miming to a backing monitor, as was commonplace observe on different music reveals.
It additionally constitutes one more reason this model sounds “off” to a critical Danfan, however it might take a very blinkered purism (a situation widespread among the many ranks of Danfans, admittedly) to not recognize this efficiency, particularly when it will get round to the solo by the band’s authentic guitarist Denny Dias — one other of which comes alongside in “Reelin’ within the Years,” performed in the video simply above.
Not that one guitarist may suffice for Steely Dan, even on this early lineup: in addition they had Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, now thought to be one of many most interesting studio gamers within the subgenre of “yacht rock.” Baxter seems prominently in their reside rendition of “Present Biz Youngsters,” albeit as only one component of the complete stage mandatory to breed that tune reside. Not like “Do It Once more” and “Reelin’ within the Years,” two singles from Steely Dan’s album Can’t Purchase a Thrill, “Present Biz Youngsters” comes from their then-newly launched follow-up Countdown to Ecstasy, which provided a richer realization of each Steely Dan’s distinctive sound and much more distinctive worldview. To the refinement of that sound and worldview Becker and Fagen would commit themselves lower than a 12 months after their Midnight Particular broadcast, after they give up reside efficiency completely for the comforts and rigors of their pure habitat: the recording studio.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.