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October 07, 1977 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-10-07

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'Aja'
By ALAN RUBENFE
A sad but true fact conce
gressive music is that ther
many innovative recordi
today. But there are defin
tions - Donald Fagen an
Becker, who incorporatea
that separates them fra
other -music maker tod
concept is known as Ste
Steely Dan's history is de
bit more bizarre than m
bands. Named after a di
William Burrough's nove
Lunch, the band attained in
success with several hit sin
their initial album, Can'
Thrill. Each subsequent alb
the group improving in som
their music, expanding the
tration and song-writing to
and also attaining a higherc
musicianship. The major f
this musical refinement
band's increasing reliance
professionals' talents in pl
band's regular "personnel
albums. By their fourth alb
Lied, Steely Dan ceased to b
Founders Becker and Fagen
that, in a musical entity suc
regular touring band, the s1
parts was greater than th
Although the band's musici
among the elite of progres
'n roll, it could not producet
the two leaders sought.
Steely Dan evolved into
t1'e concept of combining th
great rock and jazz ta
compositions tailored to eac
individual abilities. KatyL
the result of such an effort
Royal Scam, the following
Becker and Fagen emplo
same strategy, and pro
record unsurpassed in sound
musicianship, and overal
sophistication. Unsurpassed
until now.

a smash for
LD Aja (pronounced "Asia") is Steely whic
rning pro- Dan's most ambitious and satisfying solo1
re are not work of all time. The album is Stevi
ng 'artists somewhat of a departure from their ming
ite excep- previous five adventures. The rec- Blue
nd Walter ord's compositions contain a fuller misa
a concept ,jazz element than exhibited in their Beck
'm every past albums. Donald Fagen and that
lay. This Walter Becker continue to demon-- inspi
pely Dan. strate their brilliance as songwrit- ensu:
efinitely a ers; their ability to strike man's haun
ost other inner chambers of cynicism, love and to m
ildo from fear, coupled with their omnipresent I'll
', Naked sardonic wit, give the listener a I pl
mmediate naked glimpse of a reality each one Dr
gles from of us subconsciously lives daily but An
't Buy a would never expose as Messrs. Th
um found Fagen and Becker choose to do. i
e area of As in their' past several albums, I w
ir orches- Steely Dan is a conglomeration of Th
echniques ,musicians whose abilities represent T
quality of the apex of professional talent. But it Cal
factor for is the ability of the resident geniuses Sid
was the to fuse their guests' talents into one Dan'
on studio coherent unit. Some people appear on lively
ace of the almost all of the songs: Larry solos
on their Carlton, "formerly of the Crusaders, hit in
uum, Katy cuts an impeccable lead and rhythm blues
e a band, guitar, Chuck Rainey is the bassist journ
n realized on his fourth Steely Dan album, life.]
h as their percussionist Victor Feldman also is er tra
um of the a veteran of several Dan albums, and that e
he whole. Tom Scott arranges and performs song.
ans were many of the record's saxophone Hom
sive rock charts. In addition, Poco's Tim expai
the sound Schmit and Mike McDonald of the unde
Doobie Brothers also add their voices of sc4
an idea; to many of the album's tracks. riffs
e world's As previously mentioned, Aja con- songs
lents on tains more of the disciplined jazz Blaci
h of their forms that Steely, Dan's recent instep
Lied was recordings are noted, for. The open- guita
. On The ing song, Black Cow, contains an soft a
g album, infectious funky-jazz beat, which I G
oyed the complements Victor Feldman's elec- numb
duced a tric piano work, as well as a soulful omic,
d quality, sax solo by Tom Scott. Aja, the title as w
1 lyrical cut, is a brilliant piece of art. The obliqi
, that is, song is an ethereal work that drifts
through several melodic sequences

Steely Dan

h ends with a poetic tenor sax
by Wayne Shorter, coupled with
e Gadd's paroxysmal drum-
g. The side closes with Deacon
s, a prime example of the
nthropic depths that Fagen and
ler's cynicism can reach. A song
deals with one of their prime
rations, human failure 'and its
ing self-imposed depression, the
ting lyrics are a fit description
any of society's downtrodden:
learn to work the saxophone
lay just what I feel
ink scotch whiskey all night long
d die behind the wheel
ey got a name for the winners
in the world
ant a name when I lose
ey call Alabama the Crimson'
Tide
ll me Deacon Blues
le two begins with Peg, a "Disco
" number that, considering its
y beat and scintillating guitar
, could be their first AM radio
years. Home At Last, a slow
spiece, deals 'with the endless
ney down the superhighway of
Larry Carlton and Walter Beck-
ade off some low key guitar solos
enhance the desperate feel of the
The entire instrumentation of
e At Last demonstrates an
nded musical maturity that
rlines the entire album. Instead
athing, high volume solo guitar
that characterized such older
s as Don't Take Me Alive and
k Friday, Fagen and Becker
ad opt for sensitive, deeper
r lines that are simultaneously
nd forceful.
got the News, another uptempo
ber, showcases Feldman's econ-
, almost scat-style piano work,
well as highlighting Fagen's
due vocal references to'another

past flame. Josie, Aja's final selec-
tion, exemplifies the depths of deca-
dence and moral turpitude the duo's
lyrics can attain. Josie is an ode to
the wild and slightly crazy woman
that all men wish to conquer or be
conquered by; a definite commen-
tary on youth today.
Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, and
producer Gary Katz are the consum-
mate outlaws of modern music. They
are brilliant practitioners of this pro-
fession. The two artists are not
hesitant to expose their callous cyni-
cism of the plastic life that constantly
surrounds and threatens to assimi-
late them. Somehow, they manage to
stay on the periphery of a society for
which they show nothing but a total
contempt. This contempt is chan-
neled through the music medium --
an avenue they explore and utilize to
its optimum possibility.
Aja is more than an album; it is a
statement of the present. The record
is a portrait of today's moral values
and judgements. Aja is a.musical
treatise that no other musical force
can ever duplicate. Donald Fagen
and Walter Becker are musical
geniuses. Steely Dan is the modern
music of a modern world.

Work in Washington, D.C.
This Summer
sponsored by Washington Summer Intern Program
POSITIONS IN Congressional Offices, Executive Agencies,
Lobbying Organizations, News Media, Research Organizations,
and Museums.
(UNDERGRADUATES ONLY)
MASS MEETING
WEDNESDAY-y:30-OCT. 12
MLB Auditorium 3

t~-.%. E~ ~ I ~'X & A * % a

By ROSALYN KUTNER
An Oktoberfest celebrating four German composers will open the Uni-
versity Symphony Orchestra's season with Gustav Meier conducting tonight
in Hill Auditorium at8 p.m., free admission.
,.Thepyogram includes Weber's, Freischutz Overture, Beethoven's Sev-S
, 'h y Apbnpy, Wage 's Tannhauser Overture and Strauss's Dance of the
Seven Veils from Salome. At first glance, these pieces seem almost to ,
"German' to be heard in one sitting. However, it is a rare treat to be able to
compare them in a single program.
The concert's first crescendo introduces the Freischutz Overture. This
popular piece is based on the principal themes of the opera, as are most
overtures. The story is based on an old German legend of magic and sorcery.
Em┬░Freischutz is someone who can shoot magic bullets in any direction and
always hit his mark. The bullets are made by the Wild Huntsman, better
known as Satan.
Weber's musical scheme is more understandable with such an aura of
romanticism in mind. The slow, ponderous introduction illustrates an dark
eerie forest common to most German fairy tales. Satan calls for the depths
of the forest with a majestic horn fanfare. The more pleasing lyrical theme
(in C major, of course) must be the heroine of the story. The piece is just
brimming with imagery. This overture, above all others by Weber, fore-
shadows Wagner's outstanding technique of expressing dramatic ideas
through music.
Wagner opens the second half of the program tonight. Tannhauser also
involves a medieval German legend. A knight, Tannhauser, goes to Venus-
berg to see the lovely women living with Venus. Soon after, he is kept there
against his will (yes, against his will!) by the goddess. After a year, he
escapes and goes to confess his sins to the pope, but is damned by him in-
stead. Three days later, the pope realizes his wro gdoing and looks for Tann-
hauser to forgive him, but is too late.
Wagner admitted he had a hard time dramatizing the hero because his
various emotions contrast so strongly. In effect, the music itself contains ex-
treme contrasts. Tannhauser's painful yearning to be released from Venus-
berg; his love for the outside world - these are only two such themes. As
Wagner wrote in a letter just after Tannhauser's completion (in 1845), "That
is my Tannhauser, as he loves and lives - a German from head to toe."
The most outstanding and best remembered feature of Beethoven's Sev-
enth Symphony is rhythm. Each of the four'movements is centered around a
different rhythmic pattern.
Strauss's sensuous Dance of the Seven Veils ends the program on a
thrilling note. The story of Salome is shocking - so shocking that it was ban-
ned from the New York Metropolitan Opera House for 26 years (from 1907 to
1933). Salome, a 16-year-old princess, consents to dance for her father if her
grants her one wish. The dance occurs just past the halfway point in the one-
act opera, so the audience already knows her wanton yearning for John the
Baptist.
The music of the dance is composed of significant themes from the
opera: love, lust and Salome's theme are a few. It is important to notice
recurrent treatments of those themes and their powerful moods, not to know
which musical motive corresponds to which dramatic idea.
In essence, the composers in tonight's "Oktoberfest" are heavyweights
in German literture, but their music is wonderously exciting and should not
be missed.
A communications group of native people of the Americas Grupo De
Communication Social De Los Pueblo indigenas.
This group representing Native People of Canada, the U.S., Mexico
and Guatemala will be at the University of Michigan Tuesday,
October 11.
WORKSHOPS AND CLASSROOM VISITS: discussing Native Issues during
the d Er , y:
PHILLIP DEERE Muskoge, spiritual advisor to AIM 'and delegate to UN

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guage, where letters of the alphabet stand "T" for "C' and the "L" for "T." Your chal-
for other letters of the alphabet. For instance, lenge is to break the code of the cryptogram
the words "A CAT" in a cryptogram might be below, and discover its hidden message.
BH DU ZH UH
SODBLQJ KR OLGDBV
WR VSRUW
ZR XOG EH DV
WHGLRXV DV
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