Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

Author:  Barney Hoskyns
Genre:  Music/Entertainers

Hardcover; [Paperback;] Digital Book
ISBN E:  9781468316278; [9781472127556]
The Overlook Press
336 Pages
$28.27; [$18.87]$26.23 Amazon
June 5, 2018


At its core a creative marriage between Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, Steely Dan has sold over 45 million albums and recorded several of the cleverest and best-produced albums of the 1970s -- from the breathlessly catchy Can't Buy a Thrill to the sleekly sinister Gaucho -- making them one of the most sucessful rock acts of the past fifty years.  More than ten years after their break-up in 1981, they returned to remind fans of how sorely they had missed their elegance and erudition, subsequently recording Two Against Nature and Everything Must Go during the following decade, touring continuously, and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Major Dudes collects some of the smartest and wittiest interviews Becker and Fagan have ever given, along with insightful review of - and commentary on - their extraordinary songs.  Compiled by leading music critic and writer Barney Hoskyns, Major Dudes features contributions from Chris van Ness, Steven Rosen, and the late Robert Palmer, and pieces including rare interviews and reviews of Steely dan's early albums from Disc, Melody Maker, and Rolling Stone.

With an afterword examining the musical legacy and of memoralizing the late Walter Becker, who since his passing Rolling Stone has heralded as the "brilliant perfectionist behind one of rock's most eccentric bands," Major Dudes is the most comprehensive anthology of Steely Dan every compiled and will be the centerpiece on every fan's shelf.


I must first say that I have been enthralled with Steely Dan since the first time I heard their music.  Once I heard Do It Again from their first album Can't Buy a Thrill, I was hooked.  So hooked that through the years I have proceeded to buy every album they've created.  It's the music I listen to in the car; when I'm cleaning at home; in airports and on the plane - well, you get the idea.

In my mind, there is no truer band than the Dan.  They are the only band that I feel has been able to successfully merge jazz (a favorite genre of mine) and rock - so much so, that their sound is unique and unparalleled.  The lyrics, which are the soul of their sound, are complex and definitive.  Not every song means what you want to think it means, not every song is as memorable as the one that comes before it.  But each song is poetry personified; it has depth, quintessence and above all essence. 

This book not only quotes Steely Dan's songs and albums, it gives us the background of where the two founding members met (in college) and their co-band mates, and how they work together and perform together (two very different things).  Each chapter begins with an essay then there are interviews throughout along with a timeline.  This work entails the thought process behind their music, and how it comes about.  It's also interesting to note that Jeff Baxter, who began with the Dan, went on to a fine musical career with The Doobie Brothers.

I will state that if you are not a fan of Steely Dan, you may not truly understand everything in the book, but to true lovers of the band this book is an indispensable resource that is bound to be prized for what it is.  My personal favorite is the album Pretzel Logic, which has a track from which the title takes its name.  Unfortunately, the recent passing of Walter Becker left a void that will be deeply missed.

In conclusion, their music stands in a class by itself.  For anyone who knows their music, this statement stands true.  For those that don't, I suggest you listen to a couple of their albums.  If you do, Steely Dan will have gained new fans.  Highly recommended.


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