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
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.
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.
It's technically perfect....Just not that thrilling.
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.
I don't know why I thought I liked Steely Dan
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.
Get the yacht sailing… we’re heading to key west for some sunshine and cocktails!
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.
Well produced, well played, just not my cup of tea. It was pleasantly listenable, but that's about it.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 🌟
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.
The epitome of boomer dad rock. It's fine but safe and never takes risks.
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.
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
This is not a good record. 90% of it is filler. May be a competitor for most dad rock album of all time.
One of the best albums of all time!
Beautiful instrumentals, I enjoyed this album very much.
One of the finest albums recorded in the 1970's
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
I mean... Not only is there not one bad song on the album, there are a bunch of absolutely classic bangers.
Phenomenal, of course.
This one is so good. I’ll stretch to a five
Love this album. It's nearly perfect.
Hey, do all of you not know a lot about Steely Dan?
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.
Jävligt bra. Väldigt bra trummare
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.
Smooth Yacht Rock. BT: Black Cow, Deacon Blues, Peg
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
Fab album, always good to listen to it and the sax is out of this world
If I could give more than 5 I would!
Релакс! Приятный софт-рок!
The sound is just immaculate and the songs are fantastic. Can’t ask for more
Love Steely Dan! Superb, laid-back easy listening music
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.
Great production and super slick performances.
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
absolutely fabulous soulful jazz album!
One word, Classic.
great album. jazz rock. lots of weirdly cool stuff
Getting some Billy Joel vibes with this one in some songs, but man what a good listening, well produced album. Thoroughly enjoyed
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.
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.
Meni je ovo bilo savršeno. Ovaj lagani jazz/rock je melem za uši. Čak sam dva puta poslušala. Evo jedna petica.
Love this album!
Jades a neatly cut album, very enjoyable!
wow, great album. An unexpected gem!
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
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
Love steely Dan. Good tunes
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!
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.
It’s amazing how on paper this band sounds like the most uncool thing, but in practice they’re cool as all fuck.
One of the greatest albums of all time.. This one easy.
Amazing album. Current favorite song: Black Cow, Josie.
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.
How could you not like steely Dan?
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....
This is like Revenge of the Nerds but instead of sexual assault they made one of the best (produced) albums of all time
Verkligen ett bra album!!!!
I mean, what can you say about a classic like this that hasn't already been said. There are so many hits on here. I think I had a best of album when I was younger because I do recall listening to these occasionally. The only track that got a little manic was I Got The News. It was a little too experimental for me. Not the normal smoothness of Dan.
Steely Dan’s masterpiece is a complex album of accessible jazz rock that features prominent bass lines, jazz chord changes, funk rhythms, and virtuosic playing. This album is incredible tight, yet features some fantastic exploration. The guitar work alone would place this album at a 5, but it’s the combination with the bass, keys, drums, and brass that makes this one of the greatest albums of all time. It may sound self-indulgent to some, but this album manages to push popular forward in a more musically literate direction while maintaining its commercial viability
Probably my favorite album ever. The high water mark of what all popular music should aspire to be. You just have to listen to it. 10/10
10/10. One of the best ones out there
One of the most underrated highly critically claimed albums. As in, everyone loves this album, past and present, but a lot of people listen to it and "so what?" Based on the user reviews on the Internet, especially on this site, people can acknowledge it tries to be something grand but that it falls flat. I argue that it succeeds in what it tries to do and deserves all the praise, but I won't spend time detailing the music theory so I hope other 5 stars get the upvotes. I think for a lot of people, this album is just too unfamiliar. It's jazz rock, but it's not like anything you listen to. Closest thing is Chicago. I will say this is my favorite Steely Dan album. I might play Can't Buy a Thrill more just cause it's more fun to vibe too and has the hits, but this album has the intricacies that I enjoying picking out. It's 7 tracks in 40 minutes, which each minute perfected. There aren't any drawn out moments, no unnecessary repetition or formulas being rehashed. Each track innovates constantly to feel fresh. Instruments pop in and out of nowhere, getting their highlight. Production is magnificient, no one sounds buried, it's never busy. They're fantastic songwriters, and there are so many moments in the album where they have these ideas in their heads they have to bring studio musicians in to replicate. Soul influence in Black Cow, disco influence in I Got The News, and all sorts of artsy jazz all over. My favorites tracks are in the middle.
This is where the buck stops here. This is it. The crystallization of the aura that Steely Dan were hoping to possess is on here. Aja would make most bands careers but for Steely Dan, not only was it a Tuesday but yet another stop on their road to glory. Phenomenal album, best listened to with either quality headphones or a quality sound system. As probably best intentioned.
From me, this would get 3 stars just for being Steely Dan. Add a star for Josie and another for the overall album.
An audiophile's wet dream. The classic album to test stereo systems and whatnot. Meticulously detailed but has a seemingly effortless flow to it. Perhaps the greatest confluence of jazz and rock music outside of Miles Davis. Smooth as the baby powder that cut the cocaine they used while making this album.
One of my all time favorites! Legendary album by a Legendary band
Klasyczna plyta, a dzisiejsze pojawienie sie jej na liscie wreszcie pozwolilo mi rozwiazac zagadke tajemniczej okladki tego albumu, bo przed dzisiejszym odsluchem widzialem wstege, a teraz dostrzegam tam pania azjatke gustownie wymalowana, rodowod modelki nie jest tutaj bez znaczenia, bo nawiazuje on do samego tytulu Aja, czytanego jako asia, krazek z 77 bedacy szostym punktem w dyskografii duetu, a jednoczesnie ich peakiem tworczym, w ktorym synteza jazzu rocka z popowoscia jest w idealnych proporcjach, wiec zarowno mozna cieszych ucho unikalnymi gitarkowymi rifami, dac sie poniesc chwytliwym beatom klawiszowo drumowym, czy uraczyc sie harmonijnymi wokalami z liryka z podwojnym dnem i interesujaca zarowno sluchacza radiowego, jak i kogos kto szuka czegos wiecej niz doslownych znaczen, bo duet swietnie wlada zartem i sardonicznym humorkiem, tyle razy juz sluchalem tej plyty, a to 40 minut podzielone na siedem trakow nigdy nie przestaje cieszyc i brzmiec swiezo za kazdym razem, plyta z ktorej nie ma co dodawac wiecej na plejke, bo najlepiej konsumowac w calosci, ale hajlajtowymi utworami z dzisiejszego odsluchu beda dla mnie deacon blues, czyli jeden z bardziej trafiajacych w czlowieka kawalkow bandy, zwlaszcza gdy ktos jest typem przegranego, wiec latwo utozsamic mi samego siebie do postaci deacona, a kolejnym bedzie home at last, moze to kwestia pewnej tesknoty za swoim katem, ale tez ze wzgledu na nawiazania do jednej z najbardziej epickich opowiesci awanturniczej jaka zrodzila kultura hellenistyczna, wiec chodzi o odyseje
I have heard this many many times. It is phenomenal.
Love the Michael McDonald backing vocals on Peg, I got the News. Every song 5/5. Steely Dan at their best.
Always so perfect
Good album to work, relax, background music. Would listen again.
I went looking through some of the negative reviews of this album. It was interesting to see what naysayers had to say. "They took no risks." - First off, the band was polished, and playing a great blend of smooth jazz and rock. I don't see many other bands doing this type of music. Not sure what KIND of risk you are hoping for. "The songs went on forever." - Punk songs go on for only a few minutes. One thing I found interesting is I always think of "Aja" being this epic song. But "Deacon Blues" (which I love) is about the same length. So I can see people being a little squirmy for songs at 8 minutes long. (Although I do not have a problem with it.) So it really comes down to not liking the style of the songs. And really, the pieces here are great. Even the ones that did not get traction on the radio. The secret weapon here is Michael McDonald. God, "Peg" is just such an astounding song. And MM's background vocals... just SLAY me every time. "Black Cow" was one of the tracks on a best of I heard and was like... "WOW!" Josie I think I heard here, first, but it grew on me really. The two songs left are not as great, but they still are really good. If you haven't watched the Classic Albums series about this one, find it up on youtube or somewhere. It's really insightful to this album. And like they said, it IS a classic album.
One of the best albums of all time. Not Steely Dan's best album, but one of the best.
Never really knew what Steely Dan did. This is a great introduction and has some amazing songs.
This might be one of the best-sounding albums I’ve ever heard. Everything about the album is crystal-clear. Great instrumental performances and vocals. Standout tracks are “Peg” and “Deacon Blues”.
Own this on vinyl. Very nice.
10/10 same as what I said before about Steely Dan when I quoted walter white lol seriously, one of my favorite bands
Fantastic album. Favourites after the first time listening: Aja, Peg, Home At Last
09/30/22 Incredible production. Not my favorite collection of steely Dan. But got what amazing cruise music.