Methaphysical Graffiti: “Donald was quirky funny”

Before you click the following link Back to my Old School in which author Seth Kaufman attempts to pick the brain of a friend of a friend’s mother about her acid trips back in her Bard college days, you may want to catch your breath first.

There. That feels better, doesn’t it? Are you ready now for the next line? We’ll try to keep it short. Don’t worry. Your curiosity won’t have to bite the dust and there will be plenty of room left to vacuum clean, walk the dog, water the plants or order in food. But we have to properly introduce this story to you. It’s no secret. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were young, once upon a time. They did what many other youngsters did if opportunity arose. They tried and tested stuff. They did drugs. Donald Fagen writes about it in his book Eminent Hipsters and you may find some mildly curious folks and Dan fans contemplating the correlation between the music of Steely Dan and possible drug use.

“Someone said to me, ‘Hey, have you heard this group Steely Dan.’ It kind of all happened when I was in Europe. So I missed all that stuff when they were getting famous. Marcelle actually wrote a book called The Dog Is Us, which is about this era, too. [Ed note: Steely Dan scholars may be interested to know she also wrote a novel about a woman in a rock band called Rock On.]”

Ok, ok. Here you go! Seth Kaufman interviews Carol Abbe, former classmate of Donald Fagen. And don’t feel shy to contact Seth if you know about a friend of a friend of a friend and their father or mother back in the day of Bard and acid.

Steely Dan Concert season: Angel’s review

There’s plenty of coverage to be found of the most recent Steely Dan concerts around the country. The country being the US of A. Since we’re based in Europe, we can only share the excitement and anticipation from a distance, while part of us is still hoping the band may some day reach the mainland again, and not just the UK 😉

Of course we have a review for you in line, which is becoming a tradition after all these years. It could have easily been one we had to forsake because our reviewer was not sure she could make it this time around. But she did!

Follow the link HERE to read her take on the evening, and it includes setlists of both concerts, Steely Dan shared the bill with the Doobie Brothers.

Dutch Tribute Band: Eminent Hipsters

Eminent Hipsters isn’t only a book written by Donald Fagen, it’s also the name of a Dutch Steely Dan tribute band in Groningen, the most northern province in the Netherlands close to neighbor Germany alongside Groningen’s east border. The band will perform on Sunday April 15, 14:30 hrs Statenzaal at the Drents Museum, where you can visit an art exposition about American Realism called The American Dream. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so we just went to their website and found a short and crisp biography:

The band Eminent Hipsters originated from a passionate love for the music of Steely Dan, the non-categorizeable pop group that was formed in 1972 by the eminent hipsters Donald Fagen (vocals, keys) and Walter Becker (guitar, vocals). Songs like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Josie”, “Deacon Blues” and “Reelin’ In The Years” became major hits.

The music of Steely Dan is an amalgam of jazz, rhythm & blues and pop with a ‘westcoast’ mix. The often sarcastic and literary lyrics are charteristic, containing black humour. Well-known albums are “Aja” en “Gaucho”, moretheless perfect studio productions that took Becker en Fagen long. The best studio musicians were hired to record their parts for days. The parts then might be deleted by them.. The result is a discography that had stood time wonderfully and is excellent in sound and quality.

Pianist Tony Hoyting, big Steely Dan adept and long-time fan, decided to join forces with pianist and SD-lover Felix Degenaar. Together they formed in 2015 the Steely Dan tribute band “Eminent Hipsters”, as a tribute to this American phenomenon.

Steely Dan being on the frontier between jazz, pop and rock, one has to be very knowledgeable to create a worthy tribute. Everything should be perfect, there are no shortcuts!

So they knew to get the musical crème-de-la-crème of Groningen and surroundings in their 14-piece formation.

The band plays a fitting summary of the Steely Dan-repertoire as well as tracks from the solo albums of Donald Fagen.

Steve Jansen on Bandcamp

Oh how we love embedded players! Scroll down to press play and then come back to continue reading ;-). Steve Jansen is one of the founding members of the band Japan. If you have grey hair or no hair left at all, you will probably remember their somewhat extravagant features on the brim of the 70s and 80s that jumpstarted quite the opposite of a Quiet Life. They entered the recorded music scene with Adolescent Sex in 1978 and you guessed it, an album title like that did stir the pot of controversy in a generally conservative society.

Minimalism
Their fifth and final studio album Tin Drum (1981) received a BBC Radio 6 award for Best Album of 1981, thirty years after its release. To put in perspective of what was happening musically back then, Steely Dan‘s Gaucho was released a year prior in 1980 marking a change in style as some say. Gaucho was more focused on minimalism, groove and atmosphere compared to their earlier records. Donald Fagen‘s Nightfly (1982) was his first solo release after he and Walter Becker split up in 1981, ending their collaboration as Steely Dan until they recorded and released Two Against Nature (2000), two decades later.


Connections
So we move fast forward to the present, kind of. You can read more about Steve Jansen in a bio on his website or via other sources, and as such also listen to collaborative projects with, for example, Yukihiro Takahashi, drummer and co-founder of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. A few days ago various Todd Rundgren incarnations were in heavy rotation professing of the man’s utter genius over and over again, so we were pleasantly surprised to find his I Saw The Light on Takahashi’s Once A Fool album (1985). And it’s not as if we are looking for a Steely connection in everything, but we remember from the old Mizar5 days a rare sighting of Walter Becker at the Avatar Studios where Elliot Scheiner was mixing Porcupine Tree’s latest release at the time, In Absentia (2002). If you click the Avatar Studios link, you can see Walter in a picture with Elliot, along with Richard Barbieri and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Click the image below for a large version.

The most unlikely Porcupine Tree fan ever?

Japan 2.0
Keyboardist Richard Barbieri was also a Japan band member and he and Steve Jansen formed The Dolphin Brothers who released one album in 1987, and a few EP’s. The both of them continued to collaborate from time to time and recorded a number of albums, among which Stone To Flesh (1995) that was re-mastered in 2015. And we also can’t ignore the excellent 2 Meter Sessions hosted by Jan Douwe Kroeske in the Netherlands which since its inception in 1987 is still going strong. You can see Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn† in the 2 Meter studio.

Steve Jansen photography
We now like to go straight to Steve Jansen’s very own music because it truly speaks louder than words. However louder, that’s not really an appropriate characterization to describe his work and creativity. Apart from recording music, or sounds, also in collaboration with his brother David Sylvian, Steve has a knack for photography and produced a book which enables the viewer a unique opportunity to travel back in time, the 80s to be exact, and to witness the Japan era: Through A Quiet Window.

You can check out his entire music catalogue at the Bandcamp page: https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/

There’s Something Moving In My Soul

00:00 Any World 03:21 Running Child 07:23 Megashine City 12:23 Come Back Baby / Instrumental Fragment .

Raphael Saadiq: “I don’t like weird artists.”

Raphael Saadiq on His Oscar-Nominated ‘Mudbound’ Song, Working With Mary J. Blige and Declining Prince’s Record Deal

Are you shy, or you don’t like the spotlight, or do you just not care about being a star?
I just don’t care, man. I just like being around regular people — I don’t like weird artists and all that. I don’t get caught up in the hype — although I am excited about the Oscars! I never got excited about Grammys or other awards.

Why not?
I mean, Britney Spears got a Grammy before Steely Dan — that’s weird to me, I don’t really know how to measure that. I respect the Academy but I feel like sometimes it’s not about music, it’s about other things.”

 

 

The science that is no fiction

Rumpus and Bud have recently joined some social media Steely Dan groups just to keep their toes in the water, so to speak. The buzz for a Summer of Living Dangerously is in the process of defrosting as we type, meaning that people are warming up inside by the thought of a great summer tour with two of their fav bands, while shoveling their driveways and keeping the engines of their cars running before they hit their daily dosage of traffic jamscapades. But the timeline’s always a bit blurry and fuzzy when it comes to the Dan and their fans. Folks leap from past to present, to the future and back. Not persé reeling in rages of nostalgia, often more realizing the value and layers within the music their young ears, at the time, might have missed out on because their whole being got overwhelmed and absorbed by a catalogue full of creativity and studio craftsmanship that is classic as well as timeless, or ahead of its time, even.

In one of those groups, we saw this astute observation by one of our dearest former Sign In Stranger/Yellowbook friends, mr. Steve Barbour, a musician and private music teacher in Raleigh. Folks were discussing Dr. Wu, a track from the 1975 Katy Lied album of which we posted another track and great cover not long ago, on our Wake Up and Scroll Down page.

Steve posted what we immediately recognized as a great tagline to be served up in our humble Mizar6 abode:

in retrospect, Katy Lied was a watershed record with more ties to the future than the past

So, let’s just jump ahead twenty years in the future, from 1975 to 1995, and listen to Herbie Hancock’s take on a Katy Lied track:

We probably don’t need to explain all the ties and history for this particular video: Chain Lightning, performed at the Jeff Porcaro Tribute concert in 1992, with Denny Dias on lead guitar.

One of our favorite covers in 2006:

But we adore this instrumental version as well:

We hope Steviedan, as we knew him back in the old Yellow days, will occasionally grace us here with some of his insights and knowledge that kept us glued to the screen in those early internet community days.