Steely Dan - The Definitive Collection

Steely Dan
The Definitive Collection


First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8

Written by John Metzger


It isnít because The Definitive Collection, Steely Danís latest retrospective package, trades East St. Louis Toodle-Oo for the radio staple Dirty Work that it effectively supplants its predecessor A Decade of Steely Dan as the premiere, single-disc overview of the bandís career. Nor is it because it also features a pair of the groupís more recent compositions (Cousin Dupree and Things I Miss the Most). Instead, itís because it includes these tunes while also presenting its full slate of material in chronological order. Right from the opening strains of Do It Again, the first track on (and first single from) Steely Danís debut Canít Buy a Thrill, it was apparent that there was more to the partnership of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker than initially met the eye. Over the course of its career, the ensemble slowly revealed exactly what that something was. With each album that it released, Steely Dan refined and polished its impressionistic style, creating increasingly complex and heady music to match its cerebral character sketches. At first glance, the shimmering, Latin-tinged percussion of Do It Again and the cool jazz of Things I Miss the Most bear little resemblance to one another, but The Definitive Collection masterfully connects them by tracing the arc of Steely Danís transformation from the driving groove of Bodhisattva through the spacious sophistication of Deacon Blue to the seductive precision of Hey Nineteen. Although there are a few notable omissions ó Josie, Donít Take Me Alive, and Any Major Dude Will Tell You, among them ó their inclusion would have added little to the story that is told. Likewise, an equally stuffed second disc would be overkill for the uninitiated and too redundant for the fans. For once, a retrospective that has been dubbed The Definitive Collection actually lives up to its name. starstarstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box