It’s becoming an annual ritual, no less sweeter through familiarity. The clocks go forward, it gets a little lighter at nights and Nearly Dan return to play The Voodoo Rooms on a Friday evening; once again we can marvel, watching and listening to mortals recreate and re-enliven the works of the immortals Becker, Fagen and Katz. The faint and probably spurious optimism engendered by the arrival of spring is bolstered by the visit of the Stoke wizards.
I usually manage to persuade at least one new person to go – this year’s inductee was blown away although surprised when told at the interval that the band weren’t quite reaching the heights which we had seen before. Still, the interval fight in the dressing room to which front man Steve Hays always alludes must have been a particularly good one, because the second set was dynamite.
Next year they are talking about two nights at The Voodoo Rooms with two separate sets. I’ll be there twice, if God’s willing.
I don’t know how I managed this, but somehow it took me until a couple of weeks ago to hear Odessey & Oracle.
In the very early 1970s, the NME published a wallchart of the Hundred Greatest Albums ever and I think this is possibly the last of these that I’ve heard; and boy, have I listened to some crap on the back of that, must try and find it on the Internet somewhere.
Two people gave me a copy of the Anniversary Edition of O&A for my birthday, one of whom was kind enough to take it back and exchange it for two Taylor Swift albums, a different kind of greatness…but listening to O&A was a revelation and the best thing has been, I’ve listened to it at least once a day over the last few weeks. That’s actually listening, as opposed to waking up in the night blissed out to memories of these wonderful songs and productions…
What a record. Melodic, harmonic, but weird and edgy…for example, “Care of Cell 44′ – the singer is waiting on someone coming out of prison to rejoin him, whereupon they will “kiss and make up and it will be so nice.’ Wow. What did she/he do to the singer that caused them to be imprisoned? “A Rose for Emily” – poor Emily does not get a rose, not even one for her grave. And that’s just the first two tracks…
Donald Fagen must have been a fan of the organ solos on “Time of the Season” before he did it again, “Hung Up on a Dream” foreshadows Nick Drake but better…The Left Banke and loads of others must have listened to this album as much as I am.
I realise I am probably the second last person on the planet who hasn’t revered this record, but I need to go now and listen again, I am itchy under the skin and jonesing.
I enjoyed Donald Fagen’s Elegant Hipsters, which was happily as witty and mordant as you would expect from the man. A slim volume (or no volume at all the way I read it, on my second broken Kindle,) the majority of it documents a US tour with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs and the incongruity of these frankly older men out doing a “rock” tour. As Irv Azoff, Fagen’s manager, likes to remind him at every less opulent hotel or every bus journey between “selective appeal” venues, “This ain’t Steely Dan…”
The rest of the book uses essays Fagen had already written for music and film publications and like a lot of the books I read now, will end up costing me money buying music I’d not heard before; the first essay is about The Boswell Sisters and Fagen’s enthusiasm is so big and clearly expressed, I need to investigate soonest. Who knew.
Something else that “ain’t Steely Dan,” but might be more fun, is the wonderful Nearly Dan, who are about to tour again in April, coming to Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms on the 25th and Oran Mor in Glasgow the night after.
This will be my third show and it’s always been a great night out before…LA and NY’s finest jazz rock played with perfection and grace, or, as Nearly Dan have it, “less tribute, more homage…”