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Aja

Steely Dan

1977

Buy At Rough Trade
Aja
Album Summary

Aja (, pronounced like Asia) is the sixth studio album by the American jazz rock band Steely Dan. It was released on September 23, 1977, by ABC Records. Recording alongside nearly 40 musicians, band leaders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker pushed Steely Dan further into experimenting with different combinations of session players while pursuing longer, more sophisticated compositions for the album. The album peaked at number three on the US charts and number five in the UK, ultimately becoming Steely Dan's most commercially successful LP. It spawned a number of hit singles, including "Peg", "Deacon Blues", and "Josie". In July 1978, Aja won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording – Non-Classical and received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It has since appeared frequently on professional rankings of the greatest albums, with critics and audiophiles applauding the album's high production standards. In 2010, the Library of Congress selected the album for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

Wikipedia

Rating

3.43

Votes

13646

Genres

  • Rock
  • Jazz

Reviews

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Wed Nov 03 2021
2

I never got the fuss over this album, or indeed Steely Dan in general. I don’t know what this is or who it’s for. The whole thing feels like after dinner entertainment at an all-inclusive holiday resort - it’s not the worst evening you’ve ever had, but if you’re being totally honest with yourself you’d rather be somewhere else.

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Sun Jul 04 2021
2

Even trying to have an open mind, I spent the majority of the album hoping it would end soon. Each song was followed by another somehow even less interesting.

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Fri May 20 2022
1

Boring. You can see why punk happened.

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Tue Oct 11 2022
2

I. Just. Do. Not. Get. It. This isn't my first attempt to listen to this album and I made it all the way through this time. Occasionally, I like what's happening on the guitar. But overall it this music has as much edge as a tub of butter. Why is this band and this album so revered? Wouldn't you rather just listen to prog rock?? Or jazz?? Or butter??? Help me.

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Tue Apr 19 2022
4

Goddamn Steely Dan, you dildo-name-thieving fucks. You make lackluster songs, bathe them in sanitizing liquid until the recording is so clean it could be eaten off of, and then you get the fucking best musicians in the world to actually make them sound good. How do you expect me to cope with Gadd and Purdie on the same album? Fuck you. Four Stars.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
2

Look, I'm willing to admit the possibility that I'm listening to this album from too modern of a perspective. But it's not good is it? The songwriting is bland, the arrangements are mediocre, and the performances are lackluster. The ONLY reason this album is saved from a one-star review is that the engineering and production are out-of-this-world good. I don't know when the last time was that I heard such crispy drums and such a perfectly balanced stereo mix. This production is so good. It's just a shame it's wasted on such a turd of an album.

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

Another incredible Steely Dan album. I prefer Countdown to Ecstasy/Pretzel Logic/Katy Lied, but this album hits all , the right notes and has some amazing songs. “Deacon Blues” might be one of my favorite Steely Dan songs, and it might well be a paradigmatic Steely Dan song. They write about losers and castaways and shady, shitty characters down on their luck and this song captures that ethos so well (“They’ve got a name for the winners in the world/I, I want a name when I lose/They call Alabama the Crimson Tide/Call me deacon blues”). “Peg” is another song about a figure with aspirations down on their luck, this time an aspiring actress who ditched her boyfriend for her dreams of stardom. “Black Cow” is about some down on his luck schmuck confessing about his faithless girlfriend. However, this album has more of Steely Dan’s cryptic songwriting on it than albums past, and less of their sardonic wit. The title track is almost impenetrable, it seems impossible to make meaning out of it (although the instrumental break that punctuates the middle of the song is hypnotic). The three closing tracks stand over the end of the album like a riddle, each growing more convoluted than the last. There isn’t much hope of finding a consistent story in any of them, but they’re fun to listen to and the lyrics can provoke a response even when they fail to cohere into a story. An incredible album, I love it. 9/10.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

Difficult to look at this impartially, being one of my favourite and frequently played albums, so I’ll just gush. I kind of understand some people’s “bland/Muzak” perception. I don’t often “get” much punk, early Country or a lot of hip-hop, but... ... This album has amazing musicianship - albeit very calculated and brilliantly produced. The antithesis of punk. Love the funky pop of Black Cow, I got the news, Peg, the mature jazz crossover of Aja, the sophistication of Deacon Blues and the rock of Home at last and Josie. A perfect timeless album.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

A jazz-rock album which fuses cool jazz, blues, and pop into a masterpiece of an album. The production and mixing are amazing; filling soft melodies with jazzy solos and rich background instrumentals which flow seamlessly with each track. Favorite tracks: Aja, Deacon Blues, Home At Last

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Sun Sep 26 2021
5

The title track is worth the price of admission. Add "Deacon Blues" and "Peg" to the mix? Amazing. Fantastic album. The players are just fantastic. The drumming on the title track has been so talked about that any comment feels redundant. It's just beautiful.

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Fri Oct 22 2021
4

Get the yacht sailing… we’re heading to key west for some sunshine and cocktails!

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Tue Jun 08 2021
2

I don't know why I thought I liked Steely Dan

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Great Jazz-Pop-Rock fusion album. Very well produced with no filler. So many dynamics and rhythm changes and syncopation throughout, really fun listen. Favourite Tracks: Peg, Deacon Blues, Home at Last

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Mon Dec 27 2021
3

It's technically perfect....Just not that thrilling.

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Mon Jun 07 2021
3

Well produced, well played, just not my cup of tea. It was pleasantly listenable, but that's about it.

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Mon Oct 24 2022
1

Well prepared, forgettable soup. Didn't hate this. Unfortunately though, it elicited no discernible emotional response beyond apathy. What is music if not to lift the soul? There's some thought behind the lyrics - but the music they're saddled with is so non-descript it's hard to care less. All the nuance is lost in the cloying do-bops and tsch-bop-bops that smother the record like an unremarkable blanket. Probably at one point I've heard snippets of this in a hotel lobby but I don't know because I wouldn't remember it; case in point ended up listening to most of the album twice for the purposes of this because it fused with the background noise on the first occasion. Trying a little harder on the second attempt, the initial chord progressions in the unfathomably beloved Deacon Blues set the scene for a whole bunch of nothing to happen, and as listeners, we're not proved wrong with this assumption. Music should make you feel alive, this is beige soup for beige people with beige lives and beige ambitions who live in beige houses and drive beige cars to beige stores and ask for a manager when they get there because beige products are out of stock. There's a scene. And Steely Dan is playing in the background, naturally. So anyway, it was dull. Maybe one day I'll hear it again and not even know. 1/5

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Tue Apr 20 2021
5

Hey, do all of you not know a lot about Steely Dan?

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

I get that some people just do not like Steely Dan. Heck as a kid when they would come on the radio - and they did, often - I pretty much hated them. Smooth but weird...songs that didn't necessarily have the standard structure I was accustomed to. Then again I was a stupid kid. It's different and I guess that was what i didn't like at the time or freaked me out or whatever, but this is ridiculously-complex and good music. Is/was it pop? rock? fusion? jazz? who knows, probably all of the above and who cares. Can't even pick out a favourite song - literally good from beginning to end but if forced I might pick "Aja" as the unique standout. Also of importance: you just cannot listen to this album through a phone speaker, you've got to put on either earbuds/headphones, or play it through a decent stereo. Without succumbing to boredom about how amazing the studio techniques and worldly session musicians were... if you're listening to this for the first time just make sure you at least give it a chance in this way. It's one of the most celebrated *recordings* of all time for a reason - the clarity and fidelity are pretty much perfect. Jazz rock may not be my favourite subgenre but I'm not sure an album gets much better than this. 9/10 5 stars

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Mon Jan 25 2021
1

i just really don't like steely dan. the drummer on this album (apparently bernard purdie) was excellent, but i just hate everything else about them.

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Tue Aug 09 2022
1

This seems like someone found a reel-to-reel tape of cheesy background instrumentals for grocery stores and decided to lay down some vocal tracks on it. Terrible.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
1

Insufferable soft rock dreck.

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Sun Feb 25 2024
1

It’s fitting that Steely Dan named themselves after a dildo; their music comes across as a mechanical facsimile, bereft of any humanity due to their obsession with manufacturing perfection.

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

One of the best-sounding records ever made. Even if lush 70s jazz-rock is not your thing you can marvel at the playing and production. Wayne Shorter's solo, the chorus to Deacon Blues...it's pleasures are endless.

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Sun Mar 20 2022
5

It’s amazing how on paper this band sounds like the most uncool thing, but in practice they’re cool as all fuck.

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Tue May 17 2022
5

This is like Revenge of the Nerds but instead of sexual assault they made one of the best (produced) albums of all time

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Mon May 20 2024
3

Music like an ultra high resolution image of a potato. Somehow intriguing, but still potato.

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Sun Feb 13 2022
2

At one point during the title track, I thought to myself, "This one has to be over soon, right?" and when I looked at the elapsed time, it wasn't even halfway done. What a slog. Give me their earlier stuff, but not this. This is yacht rock with extra steps. Best track: Josie

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Tue Mar 29 2022
1

This album was absolutely awful. Matter of fact, it may have completely ruined the saxophone sound for me.

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Wed Feb 21 2024
1

I think I thought I used to like them but frankly this album is as musak-ally stale as a 1 wk old loaf of bread. Bored out of my mind. Can’t really find anything redeeming here.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
1

Steely Dan is the answer to the question: what if we combined jazz and rock and made both worse? And then what if we took that and made it bland AF? And Steely Dan was like, "hold my low calorie beer." Not like this is a BAD album... it simply evokes zero emotion other than feeling like a douche bag while listening. I think of all the albums we've had thus far I would be most embarrassed for my wife to walk in on me listening to this one. Not because it is the worst album of the bunch. But it would be the same as her coming home to me literally watching paint dry or grass grow. Snoooooze. 1.5/5

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Fri Feb 23 2024
1

Steely Dan’s smooth, meticulously crafted songs often find their way into environments where unobtrusive background music is preferred. For example: - A doctors office waiting room - The DMV - An elevator - Super market aisle - Call center hold music - A dentist chair during a root canal - My parents Subaru in the early 90s listening to Memphis’s top smooth rock station FM 100. Truly the sound of purgatory. I wanted to round up because I guess it sounds okay…but if I have to listen to any more of this I might inflict pain on myself.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
1

I used to frequent a bar that had bands play on the weekends, often cover bands. When we’d walk in and see it was the Steely Dan cover band that night, we were so disheartened. We hated the songs and thought the band sucked… but in hindsight? They were nailing it.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
1

I don't care how crafty they are. Steely Dan sucks.

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Sat Jan 23 2021
5

Beautiful instrumentals, I enjoyed this album very much.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
5

One of the finest albums recorded in the 1970's

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

I mean... Not only is there not one bad song on the album, there are a bunch of absolutely classic bangers.

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Mon May 31 2021
5

This one is so good. I’ll stretch to a five

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

Love this album. It's nearly perfect.

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Thu Feb 18 2021
5

The songs on this album are more homogenous and less adventurous than prior Steely Dan albums but the production, arrangements, and the cast of thousands (including Wayne shorter) who played and sang are brilliant. Full disclosure: I watched the making of Aja on Classic albums (Youtube) a few years ago. For one track they had different studio musicians submit guitar solos and then they picked the best one. Definitely not rock n’ roll.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

5 stars. I think this album is as close to perfect as Steely Dan gets. It has everything I want when I’m looking for something chipper and interesting

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Somehow overrated and overlooked at the same time. It’s an exceptional album, one of the best of that decade. But let’s talk about Led Zep IV or Dark Side of the Moon some more please.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

absolutely fabulous soulful jazz album!

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

This is my favorite Steely Dan album and one I’ve listened to many times in my life. My Dad used to play it a lot, and it holds up. It’s not my typical type of music, but I really love it.

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Sat Jan 22 2022
5

Now that's what I'm talking about! I thoroughly enjoyed this album. Steely Dan combines jazz and soft rock so well. Highlights: Black Cow, Peg, Home At Last, I Got The News, Josie

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

I looove this record. Lyrics, vocals, instrumentation, pristine recording. If you want to test your audio setup crank Peg at high volume.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

One of the greatest albums of all time.. This one easy.

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Mon Apr 04 2022
5

Amazing album. Current favorite song: Black Cow, Josie.

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Sat Jul 16 2022
5

One of my all time favorites! Legendary album by a Legendary band

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Tue Nov 28 2023
4

Nr. 50/1001 Black Cow 4/5 Aja 3/5 Deacon Blues 3/5 Peg 4/5 Home At Last 5/5 I Got The News 4/5 Josie 4/5 Average: 3,86 Thorougly enjoyed this record. Super laid back, jazzy and funky.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
3

It's a fine album with great sound, flawless production and expert musicianship. Just not the type of music that draws me in. Sometimes sounds like elevator music. 3.5 🌟

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Tue Nov 09 2021
3

3.1 - I can appreciate its musical complexity and technical prowess but I just don't enjoy this record. I gave it two spins. By most accounts it's a triumph - I've read critical reviews that say this sound is as \"ageless as intelligence.\" Then consider me part of the unwashed masses - I'm not a fan. That jazz-rock combo sounds sterile and smarmy as muzak.

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Wed Mar 16 2022
3

The epitome of boomer dad rock. It's fine but safe and never takes risks.

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Tue Apr 26 2022
3

Another proof that complexity and flawlessness doesn't guarantee an enjoyable listen. I mean, it's great; jazz rock fusion, incredible production, nice instrumentals... it's an easy listen. But I don't think I will come back to it. I can see why it's considered awesome, but ultimately, it felt bland as a listen.

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Tue Oct 17 2023
2

very easy listening. solid introduction to yacht rock. not for me. best track - "i got the news"

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Fri Apr 05 2024
2

There are some nice ideas on this record, but overall it comes across as a bit drab and boring to me.

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Sat Apr 06 2024
2

Did I just listen to a hotel’s lobby music?

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Tue Apr 30 2024
2

The first Steely Dan album I've listened to in full. Sounds like a collection of '70s TV themes. Peg is fun but better when sampled by De La Soul. Seems a bit directionless

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Tue Apr 30 2024
2

Bumbling into a fur-upholstered cocktail party full of manicured types wearing nothing but gold medallions, manicures and animal masks: what a start to the week! This is very smooth and I am totally happy if this is your kind of gig. I can’t hear the tunes for all the smoothness.

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Tue Sep 27 2022
1

This is not a good record. 90% of it is filler. May be a competitor for most dad rock album of all time.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
1

I hated Steely Dan then and I can’t stand them now. I would yell from the back seat of our Ford Grand Torino wagon to change the radio push button as soon as these songs reared their head, and as an adult I still never got past the first measure without turning the dial. Known for taking forever to record their records while in pursuit of sonic perfection, SD ironically produced pieces of work like Aja that are simply boring as hell. I would expect my rock n roll friends to punch me in the face if they ever heard me listening to this yacht rock drivel. In 1977 there were so many more exciting bands happening from Cheap Trick to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Police. Hell…too many to name. The single one positive on this album is the bass being provided by Chuck Rainey whose list of albums and artists is also too long to name.

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Fri Mar 01 2024
1

I hated all of this. Most of all why is "Asia" spelt "Aja", you cynically ironic blue-eyed white yacht jazz-rocker motherfuckers?

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Mon Mar 18 2024
1

The only good thing about listening to this is that I now know where the sample on Eye Know by De La Soul came from.

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Wed Sep 30 2020
5

One of the best albums of all time!

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Sat Jul 03 2021
5

Sweet Rosalie, she's working at the five & dime train back to Hackensack with rosemary wine Yo-deedle doidle dee, cocaine We both like to do cocaine

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Sun Jan 24 2021
5

Jävligt bra. Väldigt bra trummare

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Sat Jun 26 2021
5

Smooth Yacht Rock. BT: Black Cow, Deacon Blues, Peg

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Thu Mar 04 2021
5

4.5/5. I'm surprised I enjoyed this one so much, it's not the kind of genre I usually listen to. Everything just works for me, fav tracks: deacon blues/peg

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Tue Mar 16 2021
5

Fab album, always good to listen to it and the sax is out of this world

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Fri Jun 25 2021
5

If I could give more than 5 I would!

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

Релакс! Приятный софт-рок!

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Fri Aug 13 2021
5

The sound is just immaculate and the songs are fantastic. Can’t ask for more

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Thu Aug 19 2021
5

Love Steely Dan! Superb, laid-back easy listening music

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Wed Sep 29 2021
5

Great production and super slick performances.

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

great album. jazz rock. lots of weirdly cool stuff

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Getting some Billy Joel vibes with this one in some songs, but man what a good listening, well produced album. Thoroughly enjoyed

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

Meni je ovo bilo savršeno. Ovaj lagani jazz/rock je melem za uši. Čak sam dva puta poslušala. Evo jedna petica.

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

Jades a neatly cut album, very enjoyable!

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

wow, great album. An unexpected gem!

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Thu Feb 03 2022
5

Amazing album, would almost say its a no skip album. Amazing fusion of funky and jazzy styles with a consistent upbeat rhythm. Favourite songs are Black cow and Deadon blues. A suprisingly short album considering the amount of great songs in it!

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Sun Apr 24 2022
5

The legendary stories about the production and musicianship of this album are true. It sounds amazing, the quirky narration pulls you into the stories about these characters, and it's just an overall enjoyable listen. I liked every song except two: Aja and I Got the News.

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Wed Apr 27 2022
5

How could you not like steely Dan?

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Tue May 17 2022
5

Man! Shoutout till denna skiva prpr. All kritik om överprocessering tycker jag att är dum, det vanliga felet med album som förädlas för mycket i studoon är att de låter tråkiga. De låter sterila, inget unikt eller intressant. Överprocesserad musik tappar all swag. Det här albumet är inte en gnutta överprocesserat trots att det låter helt perfekt... för INGET låter så här, liksom på riktigt. Alla instrument låter härliga och fylliga, lager kommer in och ut, saker kommer in och ut ur låtarna på ett så absurt perfekt sätt.... och musiken har swag, den greppar en, vilket är det viktigaste. Donald Fagen äger också, hans nasala scumbag ass sångröst ger de elaka nedlåtande lyricsen liv, men visar ändå nån sorts iakttagande empati för de patetiska karaktärerna som fyller ut låtarna på albumet. Önskar det fanns mer sånhänt pr, det rör mig på ett sätt få saker kan, ofta är musik om empati lite väl... ointressant? Deacon Blues är en av mina favoritlåtar nånsin, och resten ligger inte långt bakom. Peg, var jag svär att backup vocalsen byter ut Fagens "Foreign movie" till "Porno Movie", något som får karaktären som sjunger sången (som ja feelar e om att få en skådespelerska av en sort eller annan att fortsätta sin karriär fast hon int alls vill) till henne att kännad så vidrig att jag spyr medan Peg då indirekt får lite empati från låtskrivarens håll. Och en hel massa från lyssnaren... (Teorin e kanske ba bs fö ja ha int läst lyricsen) Black Cow karaktären låter så småsint att de bara äger, Aja förutspådde patetiska anime-nördar 1977, Josie får jag mer sliskvibbar av... helt enkelt en lätt 5 stjärna....

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