Classic Albums: Steely Dan - Aja

Classic Albums: Steely Dan - Aja

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Cast: Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, Larry Carlton, Wayne Shorter

     
 

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Steely Dan was hardly a typical rock band of the 1970s; leaders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen rarely toured, preferred not to put their pictures on the covers of their albums, wrote obsessively oblique, darkly witty songs that owed more to jazz fusion than the Top 40 singles of the day, and worked under the theory that the band consisted of whoever they decided was a

Overview

Steely Dan was hardly a typical rock band of the 1970s; leaders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen rarely toured, preferred not to put their pictures on the covers of their albums, wrote obsessively oblique, darkly witty songs that owed more to jazz fusion than the Top 40 singles of the day, and worked under the theory that the band consisted of whoever they decided was a member at any given time. Notorious for their time-consuming perfectionism in the studio, the duo spent over a year making their 1977 release Aja, but the hard work paid off; it was the band's biggest selling album, moving over three million copies, hitting the top five in both England and the U.S., and spawning several hit singles, including "Deacon Blues," "Peg," and "Josie." This documentary, produced for VH1's Classic Albums series, examines Aja's long and complicated creation. It features interviews with Becker and Fagen, their producer and collaborator Gary Katz, idiosyncratic British rock musician Ian Dury, and several of the session musicians that worked on the album (among them former Doobie Brothers vocalist Michael McDonald, who sang backing vocals).

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ken Micallef
Steely Dan, the sardonic professors of rock, were never better than on their Grammy-winning 1977 masterwork, Aja. A '70s watershed, Aja still sounds fresh, and the pair's current resurfacing with Two Against Nature invites rediscovery of this earlier FM-radio staple. Becker and Fagen play hosts on this making-of video, isolating each song track-by-track with original master tapes and in performance with an ace studio band. The ingenious Becker/Fagen mindset is probed to interesting effect in interviews with the session musicians behind the recording. Guitarist Denny Dias, for instance, obliquely describes the pair as "one body, two heads, no fart jokes." Archival footage and photos of the group in their youth are too brief, but they help the pair to expose their R&B and jazz roots. Becker and Fagen's deep musical knowledge and potent wit elevate this video. They describe "Josie" as "good R&B like Junior Parker," while the weary antihero of "Deacon Blues" is characterized as "aspiring to mythic forms of loserdom." Two against nature, indeed.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/03/2006
UPC:
0801213016891
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
NR
Source:
Eagle Rock Ent
Region Code:
14
Time:
1:00:00
Sales rank:
14,149

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Steely Dan: Aja
1. Program Start: The Early Years [1:11]
2. Breaking Down "Josie" [6:57]
3. East Meets West [3:20]
4. The "Peg" Mix [8:39]
5. Dissecting "Deacon Blues" [10:26]
6. "Black Cow" [5:11]
7. "Home at Last" & The Purdie Shuffle [5:57]
8. "Aja" [6:51]
9. "Peg" (Instrumental) [3:53]
10. Their Generation [2:02]
11. "Josie" (Instrumental) [4:08]
12. Credits [1:14]

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Classic Albums: Steely Dan - Aja 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like Steely Dan and are interested in the creative process that they employed this DVD is a must. The opportunity to observe Becker & Fagan at the mixing counsole analyzing their songs track by track is priceless. I've been a 'Dan Fan' for decades and this is the first chance I've ever had to become aquainted with the artists behind the music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Aja video is totally awsome. The first half of the tape features Becker and Fagan at a large mixing console with the original Aja multitrack tape at their finger tips! They solo the bass part or the drum part, talk about how it came about and interview the studio musician who layed it down. They even show you some of the gutar solos that were rejected! At the end of the tape, they assembled some of the musicians and play a few songs off the album. I really think that the Aja album was some of the best music to come out of the '70's.