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.
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.
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?
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/
[bandcamp width=700 height=1260 album=143183898 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 package=1921921615]
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.
Walter Becker’s passing this past Sunday at the age of 67 has hit the music world hard. This includes Albumism’s Libby Cudmore, who pays her respects to the Steely Dan co-founder in this special tribute:
“They don’t play much from their newer albums, which is a shame, but Becker and Fagen, melodic in hand, moved to the center stage and busted out “Two Against Nature.” To me, there is no song more purely Becker/Fagen than this one, the lyrics a code only they understand. It was an oddly pure moment, as though the band wasn’t there, as though the audience wasn’t there, as if it was only the two of them on stage. We were witnessing magic, in a way. We were witnessing two friends recreating some goofy beatnik scene from a Bard College dorm room 50 years previous, before the studios and the stage lights, the Grammy awards and the praise. Maybe most of the audience didn’t get it. Maybe they just wanted to hear the hits. But Becker and Fagen didn’t care. This moment was for the two of them.”
If you can’t see the embedded post, click here >> Walter Becker, remembered and revered
Brian Haner: “RIP Walter Becker. Steely Dan had a huge influence on my musical career. Writing, playing, producing – I did my best to absorb all of it. They were one of those few bands that the general public liked AND musicians respected. When I decided to play live again, the first 3 songs on my set-list were Steely Dan tunes. Their stuff is timeless.
My deepest condolences to Walter’s friends & family.”
RIP Walter Becker.Steely Dan had a huge influence on my musical career. Writing, playing, producing – I did my best to…
Best known as Guitar Guy from The Jeff Dunham Show, Brian Haner is that perfect combination of skilled guitar player and stand-up comedian. Brian was part of the largest comedy tour in the world while on the road with Jeff, seen live by over 2 million people. He was also part of the Jeff Dunham Christmas Special, the highest rated show in the history of Comedy Central, seen by 20 million people. While many guitar comics simply play chords while they do their comedy act, Brian is a whole different kind of musician. Brian spent twenty-five years as a guitarist, recording and touring with musicians ranging from Avenged Sevenfold to Frank Zappa. Brian opened for The Jeff Dunham Tour on more than 500 shows, in just about every city in America, as well as South Africa, Australia, and a tour across Europe. Brian is now headlining clubs across the country in his own rock ‘n’ roll comedy show. With over 5 million views on his YouTube page, Brian has created a rabid fanbase for his live shows. He still does session work and is working on an original blues album slated for release in 2017. (source: Facebook)
In memory of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker who died aged 67 this weekend, WhoSampled look back on 10 iconic Steely Dan samples, from De La Soul, 3rd Bass and Organized Konfusion to Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa. If you have trouble with the embedded post, you can click here for the article >> WhoSampled Tribute – Ten Iconic Steely Dan samples
On September 3rd, upon awaking to the news of Walter’s passing, I found myself at a loss for words, and filled with a strange deep sorrow. One of the most dominant bricks in my musical foundation was no more an email or phone call away. We are all devastated, here at chez Randall, and I suspect the fog won’t lift for a while.
Continue reading here >> Farewell, Walter or check out the embedded Facebook post below.
Cinematic music. It lingered since yesterday. And the video on Camila Meza’s page is deserving of many more views. So here it is. Today we’re looking a little closer into who did what, and so we find it’s not the least of names that are among the musicians she recorded this album with. They sure created a nice flow together:
Camila Meza – voice, electric & acoustic guitar; Shai Maestro – piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, pump organ, ampli-celeste;
Matt Penman – bass ; Kendrick Scott – drums; Bashiri Johnson – percussion; Jody Redhage – cello; Sachal – voice
We have a soft spot for Steely Dan covers. They’re not just a testimony to excellent songwriting and a way to shape our own musical palette if we enjoy playing an instrument with friends and family for the fun of it, they also offer hope in darker times, when in doubt whether young generations can appreciate or recognize quality when they see and hear it. Our friend at the Steely Dan Covers page posted a brilliant rendition of Don’t Take Me Alive from the Royal Scam album, which can be seen as a perfect hybrid mix of rock, jazz, funk and quirky, setting the tone for Steely Dan’s electrifying energy and off the beaten track tenure. Thank you, Ethan Bill, for this gem!