Pretzel Logic

Steely Dan

MCA, 1974

http://www.steelydan.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/12/2006

More than the other classic Steely Dan albums, this one mostly eschews jazz for a more straightforward acoustic rock approach, but the results are spotty. Given that Steely Dan had retired from touring before recording this, one would expect a better product from all that time spent in the studio.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

First, it's too short, only a shade over 30 minutes but featuring a dozen songs. Moreover, few of the songs truly get under your skin the way the best Steely Dan work is able to. There is little in the way of actual rock or forward-thinking jazz; it's mostly languid acoustic fusion. Naturally, most of the snide cryptic lyrics are pretty much indecipherable; more than any album up to this point, it's clear Becker and Fagen don't care what you think of their lyrics.

The propulsive "With A Gun" and the offbeat "Monkey In Your Soul" has a Lennon-esque vibe that elevate it; both are strong album tracks. The clear set piece is, as usual, the opening number, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," a wistful piece with a tricky time signature. The blues/jazz of the title track is the album's real achievement, though, sounding like little else the Dan had done (or would do).

Studio musicians do much of the work, adding a good solo to the otherwise-forgettable "Parker's Band" and a sidewalk-cafe feel to "Any Major Dude Will Tell You." But good individual moments do not a great album make, and many of the songs feel half-finished, such as "Charlie Freak," "Barrytown" and "Through With Buzz." Given the quality of the first two albums, this is hard to overlook, though if Pretzel Logic had been the band's debut things may be different.

Still, this one is for the dedicated fans. Subtle, occasionally graceful, too laid-back to really register, Pretzel Logic shows a band running out of ideas and in need of some inspiration.

Rating: B-

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