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Alive In America

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Album Review

When Donald Fagen and Walter Becker re-formed Steely Dan in 1994, they didn't put out a new album. They undertook a tour of sports arenas, their first tour since the days of Countdown to Ecstasy. Since Steely Dan became stars after they retired from performing, many of their dedicated fans never got a chance to see the group in concert. Given those circumstances, maybe the uniformly positive reviews of the tour were predictable. But as Alive in America proves, the shows weren't earth-shaking. Certainly they were fun — there's no denying it's a thrill to hear these songs in a live setting, both for fans and for Becker and Fagen themselves — but essentially they were exercises in nostalgia. Alive in America is enjoyable, but it offers no new insight into Steely Dan as performers, or Becker and Fagen as songwriters. It's a gas while it lasts, but it doesn't leave any lasting memories.

Customer Reviews

alive in america

whoever wrote the 'itunes' review of alive in america is clearly void of understanding the beauty of this performance. pulling off these songs and arrangements live is a monumental task. fagen and becker did it so skillfully after not having been on a stage together in almost 15 years. please, if you don't understand something, don't write about it. this album is a 'must have' for anyone who appreciates the amazing beauty of steely dan.


Whoever wrote the iTunes review for this got it wrong. The fact that Steely Dan could pull off these songs live at all, most of which were only ever done in the studio with a wide variety of session musicians, is an amazing feat of musicianship. The opening three tracks are among the finest in all of the Steely Dan catalog, in fact Green Earrings and Bodhisattva actually outdo the versions on the original albums. Reelin' In the Years and Book of Liars are the only tracks that don't stand out, the rest is a superb affirmation of Steely Dan's place at the top of the rock and roll heap.

Truly "Alive in America"

My only question for the iTunes reviewer: compared to what? What's lost on the reviewer is the comparative complexity of pulling off these songs LIVE. Like any truly talented and skilled musicians, each LIVE cut expands on the original song in subtle but refreshing ways. If you loved the original song, each cut on this album brings enough familiarity to assuage your need for a live version, but adds a mildly jazz-like "in the moment" element that makes it unique - in a very, very good way. If you admire Steely Dan for their originality, musicality and skill, then you can't miss with this fine example of their talent.


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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