STEELY DAN  “Peg” b/w “I Got The News” (ABC Records #12320, September 1977)

As much as I love lo-fi bands that can’t play their instruments, I also go totally Star Trek for impeccably-produced prog and jazz acts with serious chops and boss material.  No American duo better encompassed this phenomenon, mixing in plenty of post-’60’s LA-outsider snark while at it, than Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the core of Steely Dan.  Nevermind the details, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” was hands-down the soundtrack to the summer of 1974, as I flailed apeshit on a rented raft with a snow-cone down at Oscar’s Beach on any given sun-soaked Saturday.  I can still smell the seaweed and coconut oil.  And I can remember staying up past midnight on a school night in late ’77, just to catch a special radio broadcast of their new LP, Aja, played front-to-back with no commercials.


It all seemed so “adult” then, so mature…like I was peeking into a world I wasn’t supposed to see yet.  Maybe it was the somewhat sexy subject matter.  Or maybe I was just happy to hear something other than “Hotel California” on the radio.  Either way, I completely flipped over “Peg,” Aja‘s first single, much to the dismay of nearly everyone around me.  This 30-plus-year-old track is now a LiteFM staple the world over, so I don’t need to play it for you, but behold this incredible “behind-the-scenes” clip from YouTube.  Thoroughly entertaining.

Watch The Making Of Steely Dan\’s PEG on YouTube

That swing-poppin’ Rick Marotta/Chuck Rainey rhythm section, Jay Graydon’s Sol Hoopii-on-shrooms guitar slides, a mountain of Michael McDonaldses…no nerds on Earth could resist.  And resist they didn’t, as Aja sold millions and “Peg” spent 11 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #11 first week of January.   1978 turned out to be a banner year for The Dan, as they placed two other tracks from Aja, plus their classic theme from the not-so-classic movie, FM, in the Top 40 by the time school was back in session in September.  And you said you were never going back there.

I Got The News,” a pumping, pulsating, and very funky album track (featuring a smattering of Larry Carlton and a smidge more Mike McDonald), rounds out this single’s B-side.  Listening to Aja today, it seems very brief, with a total of 7 songs clocking in at just a hair past 40 minutes.  Today’s magnum over-70 minute CD opuses and infinite MP3 playlists dwarf it by comparison, but quality over quantity is what makes The Dan great, and Aja a timeless (and heavily sampled) classic.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s a link to one of my all-time favorite internet time-wasters, The Steely Dan Dictionary.

NEXT WEEK: All I want is your extra time and your…uh…something…