short Steely Dan question -

Jon C

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,133
I played and recorded with a Steely Dan devotee in NYC who wrote originals in that style and most of the material was very very fussy and had sophomoric Jazz 101 aspirations and rhythmic aberrations straight out of the Tourette's Syndrome playbook. No thanks.
IOW he did a lousy job at it and had little of Becker/Fagen’s skills .... at least that’s what I hear from that. Seems a misdirected snark as applied to try to insult B/F. :idea :dunno
 

stanshall

Member
Messages
2,059
if Steely Dan had gotten Jeff Beck to play on one of their records circa '76 The Royal Scam era it would have been great, if you think that Becker and Fagen would have tried to bully Jeff Beck you haven't worked in a studio with legends, high likelihood that everybody and everything would have been very cool and mutually respectful

Dean Parks and Walter Becker combined beautifully on Haitian Divorce, so it's hard to imagine anything being "better" than that, but for the sake of this argument, I think Jeff Beck could have killed on Haitian Divorce ... think of his version of She's a Woman, for example

Beck would have sounded great on Black Friday, Green Earrings, The Fez, many others .....

the more I think about the more I wish it had happened '75-'76 .... not that the gunslingers Steely Dan brought in over the years were anything less than stellar (Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon, Dean Parks, Rick Derringer, et al.)
 

WordMan

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,032
if Steely Dan had gotten Jeff Beck to play on one of their records circa '76 The Royal Scam era it would have been great, if you think that Becker and Fagen would have tried to bully Jeff Beck you haven't worked in a studio with legends, high likelihood that everybody and everything would have been very cool and mutually respectful

Dean Parks and Walter Becker combined beautifully on Haitian Divorce, so it's hard to imagine anything being "better" than that, but for the sake of this argument, I think Jeff Beck could have killed on Haitian Divorce ... think of his version of She's a Woman, for example

Beck would have sounded great on Black Friday, Green Earrings, The Fez, many others .....

the more I think about the more I wish it had happened '75-'76 .... not that the gunslingers Steely Dan brought in over the years were anything less than stellar (Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon, Dean Parks, Rick Derringer, et al.)
Serious question - I know some Dan nerdiness, but am not deep. Weren’t they famous for queuing up THE top studio guitar players in NY and LA, and basically play them a track and say “earn the lead on this - Go!”; the guitarist would attempt something, they would say “um, yeah, cool, man - next!” and keep churning until they got something they decided was cool? Didn’t Jay Graydon have to take a few passes at the Peg solo, and then his masterfully tasty one popped out? And Carlton, Ritenour, Baxter, etc. sitting outside the door?

They worked with Bernard Purdie, but according to Purdie (and this I actually believe), Fagan and Becker were churning through top session drummers to find the groove to Babylon Sisters. It got to Purdie’s time in the seat and he suggested the Purdie Shuffle, which they used. But he wasn’t some glorious legend they were kow-towing to; he stuck his audition at the session because he came at the role a new way. Yay Bernard!

Jeff Beck would have had *none* of any of that. @stanshall - I always enjoy your posts and our tastes seem to overlap a lot. Do you really think the Dan boys would’ve approached Beck any differently? If I am a victim of over-simplification and stereotypes, I would appreciate the education.
 
Last edited:

DGAS

Member
Messages
106
There seems to be some sort of consensus in this thread that Donald and Walter wouldn’t have been able to corral such an iconoclastic artist as Jeff Beck. And that very well may be the case.

But it’s also possible that he wouldn’t have cut it. They had very specific ideas about what sort of sound and groove they were after for each track, and irrespective of the talent and/or skill of the player they evidently knew almost immediately whether it was working or not.

if you dig deep enough, you can find legendary stories about very high profile players who tried and failed to contribute to their projects. I’m pretty sure Robin Ford took a crack at the peg solo, which obviously didn’t work out. And I’m also pretty sure that Eric Johnson was called in for one of Donald solo projects and ended up being a complete disaster. So much so that IIRC Donald actually questioned whether EJ had ever played in a live ensemble before
 

stanshall

Member
Messages
2,059
Serious question - I know some Dan nerdiness, but am not deep. Weren’t they famous for queuing up THE top studio guitar players in NY and LA, and basically play them a track and say “earn the lead on this - Go!”; the guitarist would attempt something, they would say “um, yeah, cool, man - next!” and keep churning until they got something they decided was cool? Didn’t Jay Graydon have to take a few passes at the Peg solo, and then his masterfully tasty one popped out? And Carlton, Ritenour, Baxter, etc. sitting outside the door?

They worked with Bernard Purdie, but according to Purdie (and this I actually believe), Fagan and Becker were churning through top session drummers to find the groove to Babylon Sisters. It got to Purdie’s time in the seat and he suggested the Purdie Shuffle, which they used. But he wasn’t some glorious legend they were kow-towing to; he stuck his audition at the session because he came at the role a new way. Yay Bernard!

Jeff Beck would have had *none* of any of that. @stanshall - I always enjoy your posts and our tastes seem to overlap a lot. Do you really think the Dan boys would’ve approached Beck any differently? If I am a victim of over-simplification and stereotypes, I would appreciate the education.
thanks WordMan, respect to you too, your posts are great

regarding the question, it's all rank speculation of course but I do think Jeff Beck after the triumph of the hit LP Blow By Blow would have commanded the respect he deserves and that any producer worth his salt and mindful of sales would have found a way to make the contribution of a Jeff Beck work ... if you can get a true star who is also a virtuoso involved you don't waste the opportunity ....

I listened to The Royal Scam so much, for it really had a tweaked-out flavor that none of the other Steely Dan albums had ... my second-favorite was/is Countdown to Ecstasy ... it's hard to imagine any guitar being better than what the guys came up with ......

but if Steely Dan had come to Jeff Beck with the right tune, he would have been excellent on it, when did he ever fail to lay down a memorable and epic solo? on a great Dan tune with rich changes he would have been fantastic

I think
 

stanshall

Member
Messages
2,059
I'd like to read a good book about Steely Dan if it had some weirdness in it, but I definitely wouldn't like reading bits about good musicians being treated abruptly even if they expect to be treated that way going in ....

on the other hand the artist producers have the right to be and can be as perfectionist as they want as long as the money is holding out and the results are very good ...

Aja was a smash, and so the neurosis might arguably have been worth it, they had a method and a sound in mind, they kept at it until they got it, album contains "Peg," 'nuff said .....

Babylon Sisters is a masterpiece, Purdie was the right guy for the record, they used lots of guys but Bernard was a legend to these guys the second they heard Rock Steady, he was on most of The Royal Scam, played on Deacon Blues and Home At Last, they knew what he could do, they just had guys amassing tracks for later selection ....

because they only existed in the studio, what else were they going to do? it was an insane coked-out album that went over the top ... bit like Tusk in some respects ......
 

seward

Member
Messages
925
Knopfler has said it was an excruciating experience -- his metaphor was something like trying to swim with lead shoes on.
...and the end result was one of the greatest songs ever recorded, simultaneously sophisticated, decadent and AM-friendly, with Knopfler's golden, dreamy contributions themselves the perfect expression of the song's underlying themes, with regard to which I am reminded of Wittgenstein's maxim, at the conclusion of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, that "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."
 

WordMan

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,032
I'd like to read a good book about Steely Dan if it had some weirdness in it, but I definitely wouldn't like reading bits about good musicians being treated abruptly even if they expect to be treated that way going in ....

on the other hand the artist producers have the right to be and can be as perfectionist as they want as long as the money is holding out and the results are very good ...

Aja was a smash, and so the neurosis might arguably have been worth it, they had a method and a sound in mind, they kept at it until they got it, album contains "Peg," 'nuff said .....

Babylon Sisters is a masterpiece, Purdie was the right guy for the record, they used lots of guys but Bernard was a legend to these guys the second they heard Rock Steady, he was on most of The Royal Scam, played on Deacon Blues and Home At Last, they knew what he could do, they just had guys amassing tracks for later selection ....

because they only existed in the studio, what else were they going to do? it was an insane coked-out album that went over the top ... bit like Tusk in some respects ......
Oh yeah, Steely Dan will get their book, documentary and fictionalized movie. They have Think Piece written all over them. Some sort of music industry Butch and Sundance, directed by some new Hal Ashby type.

And you’re right - they did it their way and the proof is in their results. (No, I am not going to refer to Steely Dan’s output as pudding ;))

Purdie was a legend, but a sideman and hired gun, who happened to be excellent. Beck would’ve been a more of guest star, even to the Dans and their Jazz sensibilities, with Blow by Blow and working with George Martin under his belt.

I could see an Eddie on Beat It situation - the boys call Jeff to say “hey, Jeff - you would DEFINE this one track - wanna hear it?” In that case, he shows up, decides if he likes it, lays down his track and is gone. Surgical and respectful - that woulda worked.

Because, yeah, I’m all Freud and inside Beck’s brain :facepalm

Of course it’s all conjecture and I have no clue. But I can’t think of how B&F could do any of their normal Control shenanigans that Beck wouldn’t have seen through from miles away given his experience. So their best hope to access him would’ve been the approach described above - focused and easy and respectful for Beck.

My $.02
 
Last edited:

Joe Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,706
I find this hilarious, though I enjoy both Jeff Beck and Steely Dan. Regarding the you can't control Beck: There is video of Jeff Beck in the studio with the somewhat less regarded Jon Bon Jovi, reigning in Jeff Beck on the Young Guns II soundtrack, and giving a nod to the camera that "Who the **** am I to ask Jeff Beck anything" he was completely out of his element. Yet, he did.

It's about 50 seconds to 1 minute in on the clip
 
Last edited:

WordMan

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,032
I find this hilarious, though I enjoy both Jeff Beck and Steely Dan. Regarding the you can't control Beck: There is video of Jeff Beck in the studio with the somewhat less regarded Jon Bon Jovi, reigning in Jeff Beck on the Young Guns II soundtrack, and giving a nod to the camera that "Who the **** am I to ask Jeff Beck anything" he was completely out of his element. Yet, he did.

It's about 50 seconds to 1 minute in on the clip
If Fagan and Becker opened up to Jeff with “You can hit me anytime you want, but...” they might’ve done okay. ;)
 




Top