Tag: Steely Dan

Road Trip! — Ten Songs Inspired by Real Places

Road Trip! — Ten Songs Inspired by Real Places

Featured Posts, Listcruft, Music
Many people are inspired by their favorite songs about places to visit the locations that inspired them. But don't bother looking for 22 Acacia Avenue or Xanadu on Google Maps -- they don't exist anywhere but in their songwriters' minds. Elsewhere, however, there are plenty of songs that were inspired by real places. Here are ten of them, should you feel the urge to make a pilgrimage. (You can also check out this list on my Spotify playlist.) #1. "Lakeside Park" -- Rush Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario and spent many youthful summers on the village's most popular beach -- Lakeside Park. Peart paid tribute in an atypically nostalgic song on Rush's third album, 1975's Caress of Steel. Peart later reminisced about his Lakeside Park experience
So fresh — 10 Steely Dan songs that will never get old

So fresh — 10 Steely Dan songs that will never get old

Music
Steely Dan is one of those bands that evokes an instant response from people -- usually a big, goofy grin or wretching noises of some sort. There really seems to be no middle ground for people once they've been exposed to the unique and acerbic brand of jazz-rock practiced by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Like a lot of others, I figured that the Dan was all about "Reelin' in the Years" and "Black Cow," and not much else. Boy how wrong was I! Here's ten shining examples of what this great band has to offer beyond the classic rock radio staples, if only you'll come along for the ride. 1 -- "Fire in the Hole" (from Can't Buy a Thrill, 1972) No need to go any further than the band's debut LP to find evidence of their greatness. And if you're ever going to appreciate Fagen's earnes...
Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Music
The Zombies -- Breathe Out, Breathe In (Red House) Well this was surprisingly pleasant, although nowhere near the greatness of the original incarnation of the group. The opening title track is a dead ringer for latter day Steely Dan, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But that's not really the Zombies that people are expecting to hear, is it? Still, it's clear that founding Zombies Colin Bluntstone and Rod Argent -- who receive featured billing status on Breathe Out, Breathe In -- still have plenty of songwriting gas left in the tank, as evidenced by strong songs like the prog-tinged rocker "Another Day," the delicate and melodic "Any Other Way," and the surprisingly effective and overtly religious "Christmas for the Free" -- the last of which comes damn close to recreating the vinta...
My favorite music: 1972

My favorite music: 1972

Music
If there's one thing the internet lacks, it's pointless music lists. So to fill that void, here's a sampling of my favorite albums from some random year. Let's say, 1972. Fleetwood Mac, Bare Trees -- Oh sure, I love Rumours as much as the next person. But there's something about this particular, pre-Buckingham/Nicks incarnation of the band that speaks to me. Bare Trees is a bit uneven in spots but I keep coming back to it just the same. That said, the original version of Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady" found on this record is far superior to the 1977 hit single version. Steely Dan, Can't Buy a Thrill -- I don't care if Donald Fagen and Walter Becker want to disown this record, I love it and I know a ton of Dan fans love it. Like all classic Steely Dan records, the hits are only part o...
GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

Music
Having already cultivated a sizable fan base through his work with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, as well as from his solo work, Michael McDonald has spent the better part of the last decade following two different muses - classic Motown/soul and holiday music.  In 2009 he added another entry to the latter with This Christmas, pulled from a concert featuring McDonald and his band in a holiday performance on the PBS concert series Soundstage.  It's available on CD, but it's the DVD edition I'm reviewing here. I'll just say right up front that if you are already a fan of McDonald and his trademark soulful baritone, you will not be disappointed with This Christmas.  But even if you only have a passing interest in the man and his work, it's still a good addition to any holiday music co
‘Tis the season to win Michael McDonald’s new Christmas DVD!

‘Tis the season to win Michael McDonald’s new Christmas DVD!

Music
That's right kids, don't say I never give you anything.  Thanks to the generous folks over at Eagle Rock Entertainment and Universal Music, I have a copy of Michael McDonald's latest DVD, This Christmas: Live in Chicago, to give to one lucky reader.  It features McDonald and his band in a holiday performance on the PBS concert series Soundstage. This DVD showcases a bunch of McDonald yuletide originals and covers, and even features some of his best-known solo and Doobie Brothers hits.  If you're a McDonald or latter-era Doobie fan, you will want this disc (my review is forthcoming).  But even if you just like good Christmas music, you still can't lose.  And best of all, it's free! To win your very own DVD of This Christmas, simply do any one of the following by 11:59pm (New Jersey ti
Album cover of the week: Aja

Album cover of the week: Aja

Album Cover of the Week
(March 2011 update — Greetings Reddit users! Feel free to stick around, just remember to use a coaster.) Steely Dan consistently suffered from some of the ugliest artwork of the '70s, but pulled it together for their 1977 hit album, Aja.  This brilliantly simple image belied the alluringly complex music contained within. The songs on Aja (pronounced Asia) have been dissected and examined countless times over the last 30 years, so I'm giving this great artwork its due.  According to Wikipedia, the name Aja belonged to the Korean wife of Donald Fagen's friend's brother.  I'm not sure if that's true but it sounds plausible, so I'll pretend it is. Credit for the cover image goes to Hideki Fujii, who took this striking photo of model/actress Sayoko Yamaguchi.
The best (at least in terms of my iPod)

The best (at least in terms of my iPod)

Music
Creating and maintaining an iPod playlist with my favorite songs has been an interesting experience for me. I call the playlist "The Best" not because I really think these are the best songs ever, but because they are the ones that resonate the most with me. As the playlist has grown (it's now at 46 songs) some items of note have emerged. The first is that two of my all-time favorite bands, Kiss and Rush, are not represented once on the list. The second is that although I'm a pretty upbeat guy most of the time, I seem to respond the most to songs that are more subdued or melancholy. The third is that if a song has strong vocal harmonies it automatically wins points with me.So with that, here is the current list of The Best, with some commentary. As a side note, at least a few of these c...
Knocked Up: Pot + pregnancy = funny

Knocked Up: Pot + pregnancy = funny

Movies
When I saw the first advertisements for Knocked Up, I could not have been less intrigued. After all, the "unprepared couple bumbles their way through pregnancy" plot is as old as the hills, and I doubted very much that director/writer Judd Apatow would be able to bring a fresh perspective to the table. Apatow, for those not familiar with him, has produced some of the biggest hit comedies of the last five years, including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40 Year-Old Virgin. But while those movies were essentially really long sketches that relied on star power (Will Ferrell and Steve Carell) and liberal amounts of raunch for their success, Knocked Up is a much more assured and satisfying film. For those who have seen Nine Months or any movie like it, Knocked Up will ...