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Classic Albums: Steely Dan - Aja (1999)

Video  -  Documentary | Music  -  21 October 1999 (Japan)
7.4
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Aja was the biggest selling album of Steely Dan's career, reaching #3 on the U.S. Billboard chart and #5 in the UK. This is a portrait of the making of this 1977 jazz-rock album. It ... See full summary »

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Aja was the biggest selling album of Steely Dan's career, reaching #3 on the U.S. Billboard chart and #5 in the UK. This is a portrait of the making of this 1977 jazz-rock album. It includes archival footage, newly recorded performances, and interviews with Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, producer Gary Katz, songwriter Ian Dury, Doobie Brothers member Michael McDonald, and the session musicians involved in the recording. Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Documentary | Music

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21 October 1999 (Japan)  »

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The AJA Files
18 July 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Don Fagen and Walter Becker are the brains behind Steely Dan. They fused pop and jazz to create some of the greatest songs in music history. Formed in the early 70s, Steely Dan was originally a full band that featured singer Michael McDonald and Doobie Brothers' guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. By their fifth album, Fagen and Becker decided to jettison the live performance concept (and the band( and concentrate purely on songwriting and recording, hiring studio musicians to flesh out the performances.

Classic Albums: Steely Dan's AJA, looks at the bands' most popular album with Top 20 hits from "Peg" and "Deacon Blues". Other cuts such as the title track were also popular and put the album high on AOR status and radio rotation. In this documentary, Fagen and Becker talk about the band's history and the making of AJA. Lots of talking head commentary from studio musicians like sax players Wayne shorter, bassist Chuck Rainey, drummer Bernard Purdie, singer Michael McDonald, guitarist Larry Carlton and other musicians and well as producer Gary Katz and some of the engineers as well as the main men themselves.

It's interesting to see and hear them sit at the recording console and isolate some of the tracks on the original multi-track recording and give interesting trivia on the genesis of the songs. They manage to go over every song except "Home at Last" which they at least play in the closing credits. It's also interesting to note how much of perfectionists Fagen and Becker are. Ever album after their 5th album, Royal Scam took years to release because of their refusal to compromise on their artistic concepts and realization, fretting over every chord, groove and guitar lick to the point of constantly changing musicians until they found the right player.


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