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Soundcheck Smackdown: Aja

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Steely Dan’s 1977 album “Aja” rebelled against the disco and rock hits of the day and achieved a new level of smooth. As of this year, the Library of Congress has also deemed it so culturally and aesthetically significant that it's now going to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. In this Soundcheck Smackdown, we debated Steely Dan's "Aja" with St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans and freelance music critic Alex V. Cook.

This is a repeat edition of Soundcheck.


Alex V. Cook and Eric Deggans

Comments [10]

bob wade from Jersey

Nice fusion of jazz and rock, Deacon's Blues is a wonderful track. The studio sideman like Pete Christieb and Wayne Shorter add additional firepower, though I burnt out on this LP, it's still a classic in the rock pantheon.
I think Katy Lied is a better recording, but that is just my opinion.

Aug. 09 2011 09:11 PM
Nancy from Rockville Centre, NY

Loved this album.
t was jazzy and danceable, without being disco,loved the changes of rhythms.
Very cool.
Way ahead of its time.

Aug. 09 2011 02:35 PM
Allison from NYC

It wasn't hair band.
It wasn't metal.
It wasn't punk.
Boys in 1977 could play it for a girl and get laid.
Trust me on this.

Aug. 09 2011 02:32 PM
Mick from Brooklyn

My favorite memory about this record is being at a party in 1978 and stealing the host's vinyl before it could be played. The Clash put out their first record at the same time that this soulless pap arrived.

Aug. 09 2011 02:28 PM
Mike from NYC

Aja stands as a revolutionary album, whose success in unprecedented in it's artistic fusion - in the right sense of the word- of rock and jazz. The playing, composing and lyric content is unique and lush, blending harmonic and rhythmic content that rock hadn't seen before then. And as far as passion and exactitude, there is a moment in the Steve Gadd drum solo on Aja that there is a drum stick clack that was left in because the solo was so brilliant and in the moment. The bar was set very high by this record. It deserves to be in the Library of Congress...

Aug. 09 2011 02:28 PM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

Steely Dan wasn't cheap, safe Pop. It wasn't loud formula metal. It wasn't slushy love songs. It wasn't fandom built around individual players. Most of us didn't even know WHO the players were!

It was biting songs that cut a message with deft musicality. I put them in the same category as Depeche Mode for originality

Yeah. . .I'm a Steely Dan Snob.

Aug. 09 2011 02:24 PM
Dobbo from Nyack

Good decision. Great record, great production, great band. This record set a new standard, like the Beatles did before them.

Aug. 09 2011 02:23 PM
Ruth from Manhattan

When I was first figuring out what "Chord Progression" meant, this was there.
My world was rocked.

Thanks, SD!

Aug. 09 2011 02:20 PM
khadija from Brooklyn

Purchased LP circa 1978 in Antwerpen. Years down the line, I met Ev, my husband of 23 years. He is an absolute devotee of Steely Dan. Kiddo (now 21) absconded w/all the CDs (by now) to his University. Aja ( A-Ja).

khadija (they played in DC lately).

Aug. 09 2011 02:19 PM
Anthony from Brooklyn

Steely Dan, with no hyperbole, makes me physically ill. In the pantheon of horrible albums, Aja may take the prize, though I can't say for sure because I can't physically get through it.

Aug. 09 2011 01:57 PM

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