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

Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD)

Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD)

Some musicians are revered, reviewed and written about, but rather less listened to. Put Scott Walker at the top of that list. This is only his fourth album in the past three decades and... > Read more

Various Artists: Delta Swamp Rock Vol 2 (Soul Jazz)

Various Artists: Delta Swamp Rock Vol 2 (Soul Jazz)

Although picking up the scent from the first excellent volume in this series which joins the dots between rock, soul and country music, these 20 tracks -- while not without interest -- don't have... > Read more

New Elsewhere

Carole King: Pleasant Valley Sunday (1966)

Carole King: Pleasant Valley Sunday (1966)

There's something to be said for getting up and going to work each day. If it is doing something you love -- and maybe even if it isn't -- you do get good at it, if nothing else. Songwriting is... > Read more

Debashish Bhattacharya: Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk till Dawn (World Music Network)

Debashish Bhattacharya: Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk till Dawn (World Music Network)

While his most recent album Beyond the Ragasphere was (mostly) excellent in its fusion of East and West, but succeeded best in his dialogue with guitarist John McLaughlin on an evocative conceptual... > Read more