Monday, June 21, 2010

album of the day: The Royal Scam

Steely Dan are bona fide pop music legends, weirdos, and perverts. I mean that in the nicest possible way, as most of my friends would confirm for you without hesitation. Their music draws from whatever they want at the time - blues, jazz, pop standards, anything, even, occasionally, rock. They are allowed in the house under certain conditions.

This may not be their best work. There are three relatively much less interesting songs compared to their usual: "The Caves of Altamira," "Everything You Did" and the title track. But the key phrase there is "compared to their usual." Their usual is better than most.

And the best numbers on here are legit pop-rock classics. Unless you know Steely Dan, you probably don't know "Don't Take Me Alive" or "Sign in Stranger," which is sad, because they're excellent songs about everyday topics like surviving a siege or having surgery to change your appearance and avoid detection. And then there's "Kid Charlemagne," which is a very good song about the fun and frolic of dealing drugs, including ruining people's lives, bugging out when about to be busted, and of course guns, cash, and chemistry. (It's kind of like working for BP.)

I play this frequently, in the main because I have such a soft spot for "The Fez" and for "Haitian Divorce." I'm not sure what "The Fez" is supposed to be about, other than the speaker's quirky insistence on wearing a fez while having sex ("never gonna do it without the fez on..."), and you know, if that's your thing, I can't see anything against it. "Haitian Divorce" is a funk-influenced song that offers listeners tips on how to resolve marital disputes through sanctioned cuckoldry.

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