Courtesy of HIP
"A lot of people think
of Steely Dan as the epitome of boring ' stuff, never realizing that this is probably
the most subversive material pop has ever thrown up." cyberpunk author William
Babyboomers will want to get out their faded denims and suede jackets as favorite '70s
jazz-rock unit Steely Dan kick off touring for their new album Two Against Nature
with a swing through Japan, including two nights in Tokyo.
Of the many rock dinosaurs restocking their bank accounts in Japan, few are as looked
forward to as Steely Dan. Not only is Two Against Nature their first studio album in 20
years, but Steely Dan's music has aged far better than most.
Formed in 1972 by Bard College mates Walter Becker (guitar, bass) and Donald Fagen
(vocals, keyboards) after a failed attempt at a songwriting career, Steely Dan's original
lineup also included guitarists Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder and
keyboardist/vocalist David Palmer.
Can't Buy a Thrill, released the same year, became an instant smash, spawning the
hits "Do it Again" and "Reeling in the Years." The album and
subsequent releases defined Steely Dan's iconoclastic approach encompassing cryptic
lyrics, jazz chord progressions and exacting studio production.
Despite their commercial success, Steely Dan (named after a dildo in William S. Burroughs'
"Naked Lunch") quit touring in 1974, opting out of the pitfalls and rigors of
the road, and instead focusing on the studio. They did, however, briefly reunite in the
early '80s and mid-'90s for tours, including a stop in Tokyo in 1994.
Finally, after a number of solo projects, the two reunited in 1997 to begin work on Two
Against Nature, writing and recording at their own leisurely pace. The album appeared
in time for the millennium, pleasing Dan fans worldwide if not, perhaps, enticing a new
With a touring band that finally meets Becker and Fagen's perfectionist standards, Steely
Dan's live shows promise to be exercises in excellency.
Steely Dan play Tokyo
International Forum on 5/14-15. See listings for details.