Steely Dan – Aja (1977)
One advantage of back to school? Witnessing the “A-ha” moment.
The sight of light-bulbs illuminating, the moment where students noticeably get it.
For the remainder of this post, I’ve decided to ignore Steely Dan’s pronunciation of the word Aja. Instead, I’ll conveniently pretend the ‘j’ is pronounced like an ‘h’ as it is in Spanish, making Aja sound like “A-ha.” As in the aforementioned “A-ha” moment. Or “A-ha” like my favourite Norwegian pop trio.
They say the third time’s the charm. In my case with Steely Dan, it’s true.*
Though to give credit where it’s due, it’s partially due to the 2014 Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team, a team I once named Canada’s finest ever.
I had prepared a 2-tome comparative analysis (just kidding, but not really) of that gold medal team & Steely Dan. Out of respect for your time here, I’ve boiled it down to the thesis: Steely Dan is that not-so-exciting-yet-talented-&-effective hockey team.
From what I gather, the band by this stage was really just two core guys accompanied by la crème de la crème of studio players.
There are no look-what-I-can-do solos. The two band members (Donald Fagen & Walter Becker) may have been flashier in their solo efforts but here, their parts contributed nicely to the whole.
Much like Alice in Chains, Steely Dan has their own instantly identifiable vocal harmony. Not to mention an equally distinct overall band ‘sound,’ regardless of who appears on the recordings.
Was it exciting to listen to Aja? It was exciting for me to figure out that additional excitement wouldn’t make the record any less effective.
*Wondering what an Aja/A-ha face looks like? In the continuing Cupface tradition, here’s a recreation of my Steely Dan light-bulb moment. 😀