Steely Dan

MCA Records, 1977


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Aja is the moment when everything Steely Dan had been trying to do came together in one glorious moment.

The album is a triumph of fusion jazz, pop songcraft and even a little rock and funk. Building on the character study started on The Royal Scam, the seven songs here wind through intricate, beautiful suites, songs that both sound glossy on the surface and have an undercurrent worthy of repeated listens.

The swagger of "Black Cow" is a perfect album opener, followed by the winding, eight-minute title track. Both are overshadowed by "Deacon Blues," perhaps the finest track Steely Dan ever recorded, a wistful seven-minute jazz-rock explosion driven by kinetic drumming, urgent saxophone solos and downright human lyrics from Donald Fagen.

"Josie" is pure funk, with excellent slide bass work, while "Peg" is a straight-up rock song with good vocal harmonies. Even "Home At Last" works its way under your skin; only "I Got The News" fails to excite. 

You can argue that the production is too perfect, the performances rehearsed, but you would be wrong. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Aja is a shining example of fusion jazz/rock/pop that has few equals.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


© 2004 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.