12 Songs, 59 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Fourteen years since his last solo album — 1994’s Eleven Tracks of Whack, on which his Steely Dan cohort Donald Fagen co-produced and played keyboards — 2008’s Circus Money exists in its own time (and without Fagen), reminiscent of Steely Dan’s meticulous arrangements and sardonic lyrical ideas, yet carrying its own peculiar obsessions to the finish line. Becker’s bass reflects an interest in reggae and Caribbean rhythms (“Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore”), while his limited vocal range leaves him nearly speaking at times (Door Number Two”) and sounding devilish and on the make elsewhere (“Upside Looking Down”). Produced by fellow virtuoso Larry Klein, the songs travel with carefully placed piano chords (“Paging Audrey”) and bursts of horn (“Circus Money”). “Downtown Canon” recalls coked out New York City episodes with a decadent organ bringing on a 1970’s night. “Somebody’s Saturday Night” observes the fate of weekend pickups with a cadre of sultry back-up singers evoking the nightclub scene. “Three Picture Deal” involves Hollywood sleaze with a correspondingly smug jazz-like arrangement. Circus Money is a welcomed idiosyncratic gem.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Fourteen years since his last solo album — 1994’s Eleven Tracks of Whack, on which his Steely Dan cohort Donald Fagen co-produced and played keyboards — 2008’s Circus Money exists in its own time (and without Fagen), reminiscent of Steely Dan’s meticulous arrangements and sardonic lyrical ideas, yet carrying its own peculiar obsessions to the finish line. Becker’s bass reflects an interest in reggae and Caribbean rhythms (“Bob Is Not Your Uncle Anymore”), while his limited vocal range leaves him nearly speaking at times (Door Number Two”) and sounding devilish and on the make elsewhere (“Upside Looking Down”). Produced by fellow virtuoso Larry Klein, the songs travel with carefully placed piano chords (“Paging Audrey”) and bursts of horn (“Circus Money”). “Downtown Canon” recalls coked out New York City episodes with a decadent organ bringing on a 1970’s night. “Somebody’s Saturday Night” observes the fate of weekend pickups with a cadre of sultry back-up singers evoking the nightclub scene. “Three Picture Deal” involves Hollywood sleaze with a correspondingly smug jazz-like arrangement. Circus Money is a welcomed idiosyncratic gem.

TITLE TIME
4:33
5:37
4:45
4:08
6:48
4:15
4:37
4:14
4:29
5:04
6:02
5:27

About Walter Becker

Guitarist/bassist/songwriter/producer Walter Becker hooked up with his partner Donald Fagen when both were attending Bard College in upstate New York in the late '60s. They became members of Jay and the Americans, then signed a songwriting contract with ABC Records in the early '70s. At ABC, they formed the group Steely Dan, who gradually dwindled down to just the two of them while they sold millions of records during the '70s. They split up in 1981, with Becker turning to a part-time producing career (China Crisis, Rickie Lee Jones) and moving to Hawaii. Becker produced Fagen's Kamakiriad album in 1993, and the duo began touring again as Steely Dan that year. Becker belatedly launched a solo career with the release of his debut album, 11 Tracks of Whack, in 1994. At the dawn of the new millennium, Steely Dan released a new album, Two Against Nature, which won the Album of the Year award at the 2001 Grammys. Another Steely Dan album, Everything Must Go, arrived in 2003. Becker's second solo album, Circus Money, was released in 2008. Becker died in Maui, Hawaii in September 2017; he was 67 years old. ~ William Ruhlmann

  • ORIGIN
    New York, NY
  • BORN
    February 20, 1950

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