Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (Warners)

Donald Fagen: Slinky Thing
Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (Warners)

In the first wave of FM radio and adult-rock formats, Steely Dan stood out for their ineffable cool, poised aloofness and slippery musical craftsmanship which scooped up jazz and rock fans alike.

Fagen – half of the Dan – brings many of those qualities to this solo outing, although his vocals are considerably weaker and in places this appears more personal than Dan albums (the appropriately titled Slinky Thing and I'm Not the Same Without You which open this, then later The New Breed where relationships are addressed).

Delivering his archetypal sophisticated funk and white soul-rock with warm precision and supported by exceptional players (horns, various guitarists and backing singers), Fagen ensures these originals – and the high-stepping cover of Isaac Hayes' Out of the Ghetto -- create a tapestry which is both familiar yet offers some sassy twists on what might have been a formula (the finger-snap Miss Marlene and screenplay-like narrative of Good Stuff).

If some Dan songs seemed cynical and cerebral, those qualities are rarely evident here, but as always it's the musicianship which seduces.

Not up there with early and mid-period Dan or his solo debut The Nightfly, but intricate, adult and approachable music.

At 64, Fagen still oozes self-aware cool.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

Alongside his Alzheimer's diagnosis and a farewell tour comes this self-announced “final studio album” by the 75-year old legend whose career spans from LA session guitar work in the... > Read more

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust: Last Night on Earth (Matador)

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust: Last Night on Earth (Matador)

With the indie-rock generation's favourite aunt and uncle – Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth – having separated after more than 25 years of marriage and the band... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Out of a Clear Blue Sky

Out of a Clear Blue Sky

Kevin Saatchi, CEO of the New York-based advertising and media company RobertsAndRoberts, said yesterday he was excited about his company being offered the contract to re-brand New Zealand for the... > Read more

Mette Henriette; Mette Henriette (ECM/Ode)

Mette Henriette; Mette Henriette (ECM/Ode)

This late-twentysomething Norwegian saxophonist announces herself with this impressive double CD debut, which is all the more interesting for the questions it raises. The first disc finds her... > Read more