Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Steely Dan

Courtesy of HIP

Steely Dan

"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 Gibson

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 generation.

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.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana