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iTunes Review

A work of immaculate craft and insinuating wit, 1977's Aja is perhaps the most fully-realized album in Steely Dan's catalog. Leaders Donald Fagan and Walter Becker enlisted an all-star crew of jazz/rock players - drummer Steve Gadd and saxophonist Wayne Shorter among them - to lend this album an urbane finesse and dark-tinged sparkle. Steely Dan pays tribute to old-school jazz in "Deacon Blues" and brings a sophisticated R&B groove to "Peg" and "Home At Last." "Black Cow" has a sardonic sting, while "Josie" radiates warmth with a minimum of irony. The arrangements are gorgeously expansive -- the title tune is a jazz mini-suite. Fagan's vocals (embellished with high-gloss harmonies) are bitingly dry with a twist of venom. Behind the album's cool exterior is a burning passion for fine musicianship. Undeniably excellent, this album's hipster Žlan has made it an enduring favorite among rock and jazz aficionados alike.

Customer Reviews

The Dan's best

It's hard to put into words exactly how genius and amazing this album is. From the opening three notes of Black Cow, you know you're in for one of the greatest albums of the '70s. Every song on here is a jem: Black Cow is cool, Aja is beautiful, Peg is fun, Josie's a blast. Steely Dan was known for their absolute perfection and attention to detail, and it's on full display here. The strongest work of their incredible career.

Widely considered their best

Most would conisder 1977's Aja to be Steely Dan's best album and I wouldn't argue (though i personally like Royal Scam better). By this time, Becker and Fagen have resorted to using almost only studio musicians (Becker does play bass and guitar occasionaly and Fagen throws in a synth track or two), but the main parts are covered by the industries best session people including Wayne Shorter of Miles Davis Band/Weather Report on sax. There is something for everyone on this album, funk, jazz, fusion, blues, rock, even danceable pop based tunes. Steely Dan covers more ground in 7 songs than most bands cover in a career. Easily the best overall album of the '70s, BUY THIS ALBUM!!!. The album opens with the funk based Black Cow with snarling clavinet, thumping bass and a nice electric piano solo by Victor Feldman. The title track is absolutely immaculate, it's a religious experience everytime I hear it, it's a mix of a bunch of tunes Becker and Fagen had previously written with a superb drum track by Steve Gadd, nice vibes and piano work throughout and a great sax solo by Shorter, also tons of guitar work by Denny Dias and Becker impossibly to put this song into a genre. Deacon Blues is a smooth flowing song pushed along by a nice acoustic guitar, tons of horns and a nice vocal of Fagen in his highest register. Peg is a danceable blues tune with nice backup vocals from Mike McDonald and an interesting guitar solo by Jay Graydon, great bass line by Chuck Rainey. Home at Last is a jazzy number driven by piano, the lyrics are a take on Homer's The Odyssey, nice synth solo by Fagen that leads right into a Becker guitar solo. I Got the News is a raunchy sexy song again with piano driving it played by Victor Feldman. Josie is a minor blues with a great groove provided by another great Rainey bass line and funky rhythm guitar, nice Becker solo, amazing vocal performance by Fagen. This album is in the top 30 all time recordings and is a must have for any music collection.

If I could have only one album on my iPod...

...for the rest of time, it would be this album. Sublime. Unspeakably good. Is it epic poetry, jazz, rock, blues or classical music? It's all of them.


Formed: 1972 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Most rock & roll bands are a tightly wound unit that developed their music through years of playing in garages and clubs around their hometown. Steely Dan never subscribed to that aesthetic. As the vehicle for the songwriting of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan defied all rock & roll conventions. Becker and Fagen never truly enjoyed rock -- with their ironic humor and cryptic lyrics, their eclectic body of work shows some debt to Bob Dylan -- preferring jazz, traditional pop, blues, and...
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