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Steely Dan|Can't Buy A Thrill

Can't Buy A Thrill

Steely Dan

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Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were remarkable craftsmen from the start, as Steely Dan's debut, Can't Buy a Thrill, illustrates. Each song is tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics. All of these are hallmarks of Steely Dan's signature sound, but what is most remarkable about the record is the way it differs from their later albums. Of course, one of the most notable differences is the presence of vocalist David Palmer, a professional blue-eyed soul vocalist who oversings the handful of tracks where he takes the lead. Palmer's very presence signals the one major flaw with the album -- in an attempt to appeal to a wide audience, Becker and Fagen tempered their wildest impulses with mainstream pop techniques. Consequently, there are very few of the jazz flourishes that came to distinguish their albums -- the breakthrough single, "Do It Again," does work an impressively tight Latin jazz beat, and "Reelin' in the Years" has jazzy guitar solos and harmonies -- and the production is overly polished, conforming to all the conventions of early-'70s radio. Of course, that gives these decidedly twisted songs a subversive edge, but compositionally, these aren't as innovative as their later work. Even so, the best moments ("Dirty Work," "Kings," "Midnight Cruiser," "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again") are wonderful pop songs that subvert traditional conventions and more than foreshadow the paths Steely Dan would later take.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Can't Buy A Thrill

Steely Dan

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1
Do It Again (Album Version)
00:05:56

Donald Fagen, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - JEFF BAXTER, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Electric Sitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

2
Dirty Work (Album Version)
00:03:08

David Palmer, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Donald Fagen, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jerome Richardson, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Snooky Young, Flugelhorn, AssociatedPerformer - Denny Dias, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

3
Kings (Album Version)
00:03:45

Donald Fagen, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Elliott Randall, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Venetta Fields, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Shirley Matthews, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Clydie King, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

4
Midnite Cruiser (Album Version)
00:04:08

Donald Fagen, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

5
Only A Fool Would Say That (Album Version)
00:02:57

David Palmer, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Donald Fagen, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

6
Reelin' In The Years (Album Version)
00:04:37

Donald Fagen, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Elliott Randall, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Electric Bass, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Fire In The Hole (Album Version)
00:03:28

Donald Fagen, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

8
Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me) (Album Version)
00:04:21

David Palmer, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Donald Fagen, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Venetta Fields, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Electric Bass, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Shirley Matthews, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Clydie King, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

9
Change Of The Guard (Album Version)
00:03:39

David Palmer, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Donald Fagen, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Electric Bass, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

10
Turn That Heartbeat Over Again (Album Version)
00:04:58

David Palmer, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Donald Fagen, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Feldman, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Steely Dan, MainArtist - GARY KATZ, Producer - WALTER BECKER, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Denny Dias, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jim Hodder, Drums, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1972 Geffen Records

Album Description

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were remarkable craftsmen from the start, as Steely Dan's debut, Can't Buy a Thrill, illustrates. Each song is tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics. All of these are hallmarks of Steely Dan's signature sound, but what is most remarkable about the record is the way it differs from their later albums. Of course, one of the most notable differences is the presence of vocalist David Palmer, a professional blue-eyed soul vocalist who oversings the handful of tracks where he takes the lead. Palmer's very presence signals the one major flaw with the album -- in an attempt to appeal to a wide audience, Becker and Fagen tempered their wildest impulses with mainstream pop techniques. Consequently, there are very few of the jazz flourishes that came to distinguish their albums -- the breakthrough single, "Do It Again," does work an impressively tight Latin jazz beat, and "Reelin' in the Years" has jazzy guitar solos and harmonies -- and the production is overly polished, conforming to all the conventions of early-'70s radio. Of course, that gives these decidedly twisted songs a subversive edge, but compositionally, these aren't as innovative as their later work. Even so, the best moments ("Dirty Work," "Kings," "Midnight Cruiser," "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again") are wonderful pop songs that subvert traditional conventions and more than foreshadow the paths Steely Dan would later take.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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