CD Review of Steely Dan: The Definitive Collection by Steely Dan

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Steely Dan: The Definitive Collection
starstarstarstarstar Label: Geffen
Released: 2006
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Oh hello there, Walter and Donald. I see you’ve been repackaged yet again into another greatest hits CD. Let’s see, how many is this now? Well, you guys started the ball rolling yourselves back in the late ‘70s with Greatest Hits 1972-1978. Then, MCA wanted to squeeze some more dollars and issued Gold for you guys as well. That would certainly suffice until the CD age, when regurgitation became de rigueur. You guys did the right thing again by just putting all your goods into one box set and offering up Citizen Steely Dan along with the token booklet and complimentary couple of hard to find items. If that wasn’t enough, Gold was reissued with some bonus tracks. Good enough yet, fans? Hardly. There’s always room for even more improvement.

So the bulldozers moved in next door to our stereos and everyone was treated to import best-ofs like Reelin in the Years: The Best of Steely Dan and of course who could forget the wonderfully titled Remastered: The Best of Steely Dan Then and Now? Then of course there were the dreadfully shitty tributes to you guys all gussied up in albums named Smooth Sax Tribute To Steely Dan and No Static At All: An Instrumental Tribute to Steely Dan. I owned that latter one, gentlemen, and it was more than terrible. I wish I could claim I was high at the time of its purchase, but this was not the case.

Oh, but wait! How could we forget yet another official two-disc best of entitled Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980, not to mention those scores of legit bootleg releases of all your pre-fame workshop days? You guys got so much mileage out of your first seven albums on various compilations that you’re sure to be gagging on all the doubloons and pesos. But we need something else. Something to top all those other compilations. What could it be? Got it! How about a single disc compilation entitled The Definitive Collection that covers ALL your albums from Can’t Buy a Thrill to Everything Must Go, thereby supplanting your own old excellent single disc compilation A Decade of Steely Dan? It’s genius, I tell you!

Like that CD, this will go in chronological order, so we will of course open with “Do It Again” to set the standard for all those new kids who are just getting into you guys and may have only grooved to “Hey Nineteen” or “FM.” Don’t worry, those songs will certainly be on here as well, but for a change of pace, we’ll also throw in “Dirty Work” between “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years” to throw a curveball to everyone who owns all your other nifty compilations. Other than that, it’s business as usual, gents, with the “Bodhisattva” and “My Old School” duo from Countdown to Ecstasy working their magic yet again. We’ll scrap “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” from Pretzel Logic and let “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” be the sole representative from that album. Is that okay?

Of course, we’ll give the fans of Katy Lied the usual dollop of “Black Friday” and “Bad Sneakers,” and “Kid Charlemagne” for the one fan of The Royal Scam (just kidding). Toss in the expected “Deacon Blues” and “Peg” from Aja, and now we’re really cooking up some gumbo, guys! Can you smell it yet? Of course there’s “FM” and the usual suspects from Gaucho, “Hey Nineteen” and “Babylon Sisters.” (I refuse to believe anyone truly thinks Gaucho is better than The Royal Scam aside from these two songs. Yes, that includes even you, Walter and Donald.) Whew! Well, that should do all those old fans proud, wouldn’t you say? Now to reel in that new teenage demographic! Let’s throw on “Cousin Dupree” from Two against Nature and “Things I Miss the Most” from Everything Must Go. Had it been me choosing, I would have picked “Blues Beach,” but that’s no matter.

So what do you think of the new compilation? We’ll throw in some vintage photos for the booklet, along with personnel for each track. No liner notes to get in the way or any of that crap. I tell you guys, if your goddamned music wasn’t still so excellent after all this time, you’d be getting zero stars in this rating for just pushing out the product. But I know you better than that, and that this is clearly the brainchild of the masterminds at Geffen Records. So can we finally let this one be the definitive collection as the title states and just move on until the next album arrives and the lawyers can be contacted once again? And if a new album doesn’t come out, maybe we can just crap out this compilation yet again and tack on some solo cuts from The Nightfly and Eleven Tracks of Whack and call it a day. Whatever the case, the check’s in the mail, boys! See you on the new tour.

~Jason Thompson