This Steely Dan Documentary Is Worth Your Time Even If You Don’t Like Steely Dan

Even if you don’t like Steely Dan, this 1999 documentary about the making of their 1977 album Aja is fantastic. First off, it’s fucking hilarious—Walter Becker and Donald Fagen come across as the smartest, most venomous guys in the room—a wicked mixture of witty and cruel—-and watching them discuss each track, and each part of each track is fascinating (especially when they pick apart failed guitar solos). The film also features a marvelous supporting cast, including braggart percussionist Bernard Purdie (of “The Purdie Shuffle” fame), and poor old Michael McDonald, who struggled to nail his background parts on “Peg.” What might be most fascinating though is seeing how Fagen and Becker pieced the instrumental tracks of Aja together, bringing in different session musicians—entirely different bands—from day to day. And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a sample (of a sample):


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  1. Cute Remarks · January 24, 2013

    Awesome video thank you. Really enlightens the way I will play & listen to music.
    “so it was like a two step process, one was to get to perfection and the other was to get beyond it and to loosen it up a little bit so it didn’t have to be the perfect squeaky clean goal.”
    25:08- Dean parks


  2. tomsimard · January 24, 2013

    I love Steely Dan amd am looking forwad to taking a look. Thanks.


  3. tomsimard · January 24, 2013

    That was great. And Purdie wtih his long list is exactly as you describe.


    • Biblioklept · January 24, 2013

      Purdie’s list has a nice parallel in this clip: (Go to 2m47s)


  4. tomsimard · January 24, 2013



  5. Shawn Conner · January 24, 2013

    Fantastic! Loved Purdie’s signs: “You’ve just hired the hitmaker!” On another note, could’ve sworn I once saw some out-takes from this episode in which Fagen and Becker demonstrate alternate guitar solos that were recorded for “Reelin’ In the Years”. Anyone else ever see this or know how to find?


  6. Pingback: Artist Countdown: Steel Dan – Top 25 Tracks/Hits 7pm ET « RadioMaxMusic Internet Radio

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