MCA 37044 The Royal Scam
Produced by Gary Katz
Released on May 1976
US CHART POSITION #15 . . . GOLD RECORD (9/15/76), PLATINUM (9/7/93)
. . . UK CHART POSITION #11
Find it at GEMM
MCA 37044 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

A certain amount of biliousness was to be expected on any Steely Dan record, but The Royal Scam fairly reeks with the stuff. Ironically, it’s only on “The Caves of Altamira” where the band lets some light shine into their subject matter; otherwise, these are dark musings even by Dan’s standards. Whether they’re kicking the dead horse of Ken Kesey and the koolaid acid test experiment (“Kid Charlemagne”), tracking a renegade on the edge (“Don’t Take Me Alive”) or conducting an autopsy of a failed romance (“Haitian Divorce”), it’s done with a level of precision that almost seems cruel. If you want to find the redeeming side to The Royal Scam, listen to the music. Though the band has adopted some of disco’s trappings in its punchy bass lines and strict drum beats, the guitar solos still sting like a Portuguese man o’ war, the arrangements remain intellectual, the melodies ingratiating. In fact, based on the music alone, “Haitian Divorce” might be the catchiest song they’ve ever written. And there are nods to the subsequent Aja that fans have come to appreciate, such as the taut sound of “The Fez” and the exotic title track. Yet as polished as the record is, the band sounds tired this time out. “Everything You Did” and “Sign In Stranger,” which would have blossomed if treated like the material on Katy Lied, here find their potential stunted. No one would accuse The Royal Scam of being a bad album -- I don’t think Steely Dan were capable of making one -- but the boys would have done well to pull up the shades and open a few windows in the studio when recording this one.

MCA 37044 back cover
MCA 37044 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. KID CHARLEMAGNE    4:38
  2. THE CAVES OF ALTAMIRA    3:33
  3. DON'T TAKE ME ALIVE    4:19
  4. SIGN IN STRANGER    4:22
  5. THE FEZ    (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen/Paul Griffin)    3:59
  6. GREEN EARRINGS    4:05
  7. HAITIAN DIVORCE    5:50
  8. EVERYTHING YOU DID    3:54
  9. THE ROYAL SCAM    6:31

    Songs by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen unless noted

CREDITS

WALTER BECKER -- bass, guitars, horn arrangements
LARRY CARLTON -- guitars
GARY COLEMAN -- percussion
DENNIS DIAS -- guitars
DONALD FAGEN -- lead vocals, keyboards, back-up vocals, horn arrangements
VICTOR FELDMAN -- percussion, keyboards
VENETTA FIELDS -- back-up vocals
BOB FINDLEY -- horns
CHUCK FINDLEY -- horns, horn arrangements
PAUL GRIFFIN -- keyboards
DON GROLNICK -- keyboards
JIM HORN -- horns
SLYDE HYDE -- horns
PLAS JOHNSON -- horns
CLYDIE KING -- back-up vocals
JOHN KLEMMER -- horns
RICK MAROTTA -- drums
SHERLIE MATTHEWS -- back-up vocals
MICHAEL McDONALD -- back-up vocals
DEAN PARKS -- guitars
BERNARD PURDIE -- drums
CHUCK RAINEY -- bass
ELLIOT RANDALL -- guitars
TIM SCHMIT -- back-up vocals
Roger Nichols -- engineer, mix down engineer
Barney Perkins -- mix down engineer
Elliot Shiner -- engineer
Charlie Ganse and Zox -- cover art

return to STEELY DAN discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US May 1976 ABC LP/CS 931 lyric sleeve
UK May 1976 ABC LP/CS ABCL/CAB-5161 lyric sleeve
CAN 1976 ABC LP 9022 931 lyric sleeve
GER/NET   ABC LP 27552XOT  
US/CAN 1980 MCA LP MCA 37044  
US September? 1982 MCA LP MCA-1483  
US   MCA LP/CS MCA/MCAC-1595  
UK/AUS'L   MCA LP MCL-1708  
  June 1988? MCA CD MCAD-31193  
  2000 MCA Int'l CD 10076  
WW   MCA CD 811 708 digital remaster
JPN 2004 Universal CD UICY-3025 digital remaster

 

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