Countdown to Ecstasy

For notoriously anal perfectionists, STeely Dan managed to pack in a sense of energy and fun in their second LP in 1973, one that could be as tight as any soulless studio pop, but simultaneously with the lyrical and musical vibrancy and animation that the Stones had in abundance (a strangely ironic golden combination rarely achieved). While Aja remains an album of equal perfection, Countdown has the edge for sheer rock miscellany.

Kicking off with Bodhisattva, tangibly rockin’ track with a guitar solo like lava, the Dan’s dry humour is immediately apparent in the irony of its cosmopolitan title. From the start, it seems that no living category of person on Earth will escape the wrath of Becker and Fagen’s modest condescension (not even themselves, it turns out).
Razor Boy and Pearl of the Quarter shows us that this band can feel love, and King of the World, in its apocalyptic visions displays that they can be deeply human. It’s a shame that naming yourself after a sex toy from any William Burroughs novel may be very ‘lower-sixth’.

One of my absolute favourites, and a faultless record if I’ve ever heard one.

Note: The 1999 remastered CD’s are brilliant. Very well remastered, and with expansive and typically neurotic liner notes from Becker and Fagen.

Goof: Bard College is a private liberal arts school’, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.’  Sounds to me like a recipe for a good cynic.

10 El Supremos out of 10



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