La La Land – The 1974 Los Angeles Broadcast
Steely Dan, in 1974. This is a legendary radio broadcast of a live show from near the end of the life of the original band, Steely Dan. After that touring was off the table and the band’s line-up changed from song to song at the request of Messrs Becker and Fagen and in the pursuit – always – of perfection.
Here the original line-up of Becker, Fagen, singer David Palmer, drummer Jim Hodder and guitarists Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias had swollen to an 8-piece with the addition of two superstar session gurus, vocalist/keyboardist Michael McDonald and second drummer Jeff Porcaro.
Some people call this the greatest ever Steely Dan live show – certainly it’s a document of the original touring line-up’s utter peak.
With just the first three albums to pick from here in 1974 we are treated to rip-roaring renditions of things like Bodhisattva and Do It Again, the guitarists wailing, those drummers just hitting down hard into the groove…the band tearing into it, impassioned, electric. No cold detachment here. This is full fire. They’re like, well, they’re like…a steam-powdered dildo!
Any Major Dude Will Tell You kicks off slightly folkish, Billy Joel-like maybe, at the piano – Palmer in super fine voice.
King Of The World is like disco-fringed gospel pop, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number rides the Latin-jazz vibe a little more overtly with a nylon-string guitar line adding (extra) colour. Pretzell Logic is balls-out blues-rock, Your Gold Teeth II has extra drum-sizzle, and Reelin’ In The Years is a monster hit and total audience fave.
The band is just killing it. And if you’ve never had the chance to hear this – or have only heard the dirtier-sounding muddy-soundboard recordings check out this nicely cleaned up version. It’s a band at its vital first peak. Sure there were better, slicker songs and albums to come but in terms of the live vibe this is everything. And there’s enough great songs here to please the faithful and relative newcomers alike.
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