leejohnson's current selection is:
Reelin' In the Years
by Steely Dan


Unlike the last one I posted, I certainly DO know this group. And this number, as my brother's showband used to do a cracking cover of it during gigs. Here's a bit from Marty Garner's fine tribute to the band and the track, found in the "Aquarium Drunkard" blog:


Sevens :: Steely Dan: Reelin' In the Years

('Sevens', a new feature on "Aquarium Drunkard", pays tribute to the art of the individual song.)

Let me begin by saying that when the genre of 'yacht rock' is finally sunk forever by the churning ocean of history and good taste, I'll be one of the last to call "SOS". There's always been something grating about the entire style – two guys; usually mustachioed; playing lite, jazzy, 'half-rock' for the lunchbreak set. And, really, "Reelin' In the Years" is no different: Elliot Randall's guitar crunches like ice in a glass and the piano and bass come straight from a 70's sitcom, while Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's harmonies are period-perfect.

But I can't get enough of it. For four minutes and thirty-seven seconds, the 'Dan' do a power-lunch 'n' roll all over a classically nonsensical lyric. I can trace the beginning of my appreciation for "Reelin' In the Years" all the way down to my childhood and the bizarre, almost grating quality of Randall's guitar tone. I can still remember thinking that it sounded like a knife cutting through frozen broccoli: that sharp crunch is hookier than any vocal melody Fagen and Becker ever could have come up with. And when he see-saws into that last, climbing solo? Forget it.

Of course, Becker and Fagen are no slouches, and their arrangement only serves to turn up the broilers. The band chug away behind Randall's guitar – which shines new light on the term "lead" – and when they build to the chugging, handclapping bridge, it's nearly impossible to not bob your head along. And in my mind, that's what the 'Dan' looked like while they were recording "Reelin' In the Years". I can see it: all loosened ties and pushed-up sleeves in the big city, they're nodding their heads and watching the clock, grinning from under their mustaches. And then, as the song fades out, Becker stands up, pushes up his glasses, and says, "Alright men, back to work."


I like that a lot. Just the right amount of reverence, tongue-in-cheek and humorous quip to suit me. No UK singles chart success with this though - the best the band ever did in Britain was No. 17 in 1976 for "Haitian Divorce". In the US however, today's selection got to No. 11 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.
1973 - ABC Records - United States
Posted: 25th May 2018
Born in 1954, leaving education by 1972, 'glam' was my thing, "Ziggy" Bowie my hero. I was even the only guy in my town with the haircut (though not the carrot red colouring!). Therefore every seventh selection is a Bowie track.
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