AA-1006 Aja
Produced by Gary Katz
Released on September 1977
US CHART POSITION #3 . . . PLATINUM RECORD (12/27/77), 2x PLATINUM (9/7/93). . . GRAMMY: BEST ENGINEERING . . . UK CHART POSITION #5
Find it at GEMM
AA-1006 cover  

S teely Dan took a little longer than usual to complete Aja, which fueled speculation that the boys were finally trying to make that perfect record. And if ever there was one, Aja was it. Although some of the disco/funk elements of The Royal Scam remained, Aja’s intent was to find that ideal balance between jazz and pop music, realism and optimism. From the first, carefully contrived sounds of “Black Cow” to the airtight arrangement of “Josie,” Steely Dan and Gary Katz control every note, every nuance of the record. Lyrically, we’re left looking over Donald Fagen’s shoulder, out of the loop perhaps but still in the moment. Most folks couldn’t say for certain what “Aja” or “I Got The News” were really about, but it didn’t matter; they were about something important, we maintained, because so much care had been taken to get every bit of it right. Where The Royal Scam sounded claustrophobic, Aja was open and organic. Lyrics gave way to extended musical passages, none more sublime than Wayne Shorter’s tenor sax solo on the title track. Far from the diatribes of old, Fagen seemed sympathetic, somehow wiser on songs like “Deacon Blues” and “I Got The News,” light-hearted on the effervescent “Peg.” Aja remains the most mature and superbly crafted of the Dan albums: exotic, erotic, alit with cool fire. The “group” no doubt recognized their achievement and stepped back from the magnetic canvas for some time, issuing the pale and less vital Gaucho several years later.

AA-1006 inner gatefold AA-1006 lyric sleeve
AA-1006 inner gatefold AA-1006 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. BLACK COW    5:07
  2. AJA    7:56
  3. DEACON BLUES    7:26
  4. PEG    3:58
  5. HOME AT LAST    5:31
  6. I GOT THE NEWS    5:03
  7. JOSIE    4:30

    All songs composed by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
    Rhythm charts prepared by Larry Carlton, Dean Parks and Michael Omartian in collaboration with the composers

CREDITS

WALTER BECKER -- guitar, bass, solo guitar
LARRY CARLTON -- guitar, solo guitar
DONALD FAGEN -- lead vocals, synthesizer, police whistle, backup vocals
VICTOR FELDMAN -- percussion, electric piano, vibes
CHUCK RAINEY -- bass
Pete Christlieb -- tenor sax (3)
Gary Coleman -- percussion (4)
Denny Dias -- guitar (2)
Venetta Fields -- backup vocals
Chuck Findley -- brass
Steve Gadd -- drums (2)
Jay Graydon -- solo guitar (4)
Ed Greene -- drums (6)
Paul Griffin -- electric piano & backing vocals (4)
Don Grolnick -- clavinet (4)
Jim Horn -- saxes/flutes
Paul Humphrey -- drums (1)
Slyde Hyde -- brass
Plas Johnson -- saxes/flutes
Jackie Kelso -- saxes/flutes
Jim Keltner -- drums & percussion (7)
Steve Khan -- guitar (4)
Clydie King -- backup vocals
Rebecca Louis -- backup vocals
Rick Marotta -- drums (4)
Sherlie Matthews -- backup vocals
Lou McCreary -- brass
Michael McDonald -- backup vocals
Michael Omartian -- piano (2)
Dean Parks -- guitar
Bill Perkins -- saxes/flutes
Bernard Purdie -- drums
Lee Ritenour -- guitar (3)
Joe Sample -- clavinet, electric piano
Tim Schmit -- backup vocals
Tom Scott -- lyricon, tenor sax, horn arrangements, conductor
Wayne Shorter -- tenor sax (2)
Roger Nichols -- executive engineer
Elliot Scheiner -- engineer
Bill Schnee -- engineer
Al Scmitt -- engineer
Hideki Fujii -- cover photo

return to STEELY DAN discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US September 1977 ABC LP/CS AA/TCAB-1006 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve
UK September 1977 ABC LP/CS ABCL 9225/CAB 5225 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve
CAN 1977 ABC LP 9022 1006 gatefold cover
JPN 1977 ABC LP YX-8114-AB gatefold cover, lyric insert
NET 1977 ABC LP 25046XOT gatefold cover
POR 1978 ABC LP MP9001  
US 1979 Mobile Fidelity LP/CS MFSL-1/MFSL-C-033 original master recording
UK April 1982 MCA 2LP/2CS 101 repackaged w. CAN'T BUY A THRILL
US 1983 MCA LP/CS MCA/MCAC-1688  
  1983 MCA 2CS MCAC2-6943 repackaged w. GAUCHO
US 1985? MCA LP/CD MCA/MCAD-37214  
GER   MCA LP 2504 491 gatefold cover
US   Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-515 24k gold remaster
US November 23, 1999 MCA CD 112056 digital remaster
  2000 MCA Int'l CD 10077  
JPN   Polydor CD UICY-3026 digital remaster
EEC   Polygram CD 811 745 digital remaster

 

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