NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: Steely Dan Live!
It should come as no shock – really – that the band that, well, fired its entire band and then showed no loyalty to the session greats of the world, picking and choosing them on a track-by-track basis, simply carried on touring after co-leader Walter Becker died in 2017. It’s almost as if no one’s told Donald Fagen, but he’s so happy with Jon Hetherington’s guitar skills he hasn’t even noticed Becker’s gone.
Here a 2019 live show is finally released and in that perverse, muted way of the Steely Dan world it’s both a double album and yet not the full show. There’s zero banter (less of a surprise) and even the crowd noise has been mixed out.
So what you’re really getting is Fagen playing some hits and approximating a live-in-the-studio sound and feel by his dynamic showband.
And so, while this is hardly essential – it is of course still pretty great. A core element of the sound that made some of the best, smartest, strangest, and sardonic twisted-pop is in better voice than when I saw the band (w/ Becker) a decade or so ago.
So if you still like trophies, if you keep souvenirs you might want this.
Lovely versions of so many of the staples – killer effort from the backing vocalists, the aforementioned Hetherington and drummer Keith Carlock blazes through the Aja solo like it ain’t even a thing. Obvious song highlights include, well, the whole show that we hear – but in particular Kid Charlemagne, Hey Nineteen, Any Major Dude, Glamour Profession and Peg.
Close your eyes and it’s nearly the very real thing. And I guess that’s the plan. So, you know, if you’re enough of a fan to want to complete their finite discography then go at it. But you don’t have to have this. Still, you might want to hear it.