Putting together a "best-of" compilation for a band as hell-bent on achieving perfection as Steely Dan
can be a daunting task. Fortunately, The Very Best of Steely Dan
takes a kitchen-sink approach as it delivers two discs of remarkably precise jazz-rock from the storied outfit. A career retrospective, the album tracks Steely Dan from their more group-oriented beginning, which found legendary guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
in the lineup, to their more withdrawn period in the second half of their career when Becker
focused on the perfectionism allowed by the studio environment. This helps to give listeners a taste of the band's complete history all in one shot rather than over the course of a couple of volumes. In the end, The Very Best of Steely Dan
is like the closing arguments of two attorneys who are both arguing their client is innocent, just for different reasons, with both of its two discs making a compelling case for why Steely Dan were one of the great soft/jazz-rock bands of the '70s.