Steely Dan Sunday, “Glamour Profession” (1980)

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Two things that became apparent to me when first hearing “Glamour Profession” at the time when Gaucho first appeared:

1) it was about drug dealing to well-heeled clients in Southern California

2) it was Steely Dan’s most explicit excursion into disco, at the moment when disco when in its dying throes. Does having a disco beat make a song bad? Not necessarily; Donald Fagen’s “New Frontier” from just two years later has the same rhythm pattern and I like that song just fine.

But something about “Glamour” leaves me cold. Maybe it’s the stiff drumming (just how did they manage to make Steve Gadd sound stiff, anyhow?), the mirror ball bass line, or the lyrics that try too hard to sound chic. Or maybe it’s the combination of it all.

This being Steely Dan, however, the song not without virtue. They construct a melody that’s a lot more interesting than a typical disco song. The dual sax arrangement, performed by Michael Brecker and Tom Scott, is first rate. And somewhere buried in the mix lurks Steve Khan’s biting but tasteful guitar accents. Some of the lines of the lyrics are actually kind of funny, though I’m not sure if they were intended that way. For one, nobody was bragging about puttering around in a Chrysler in 1980, and making calls from a car ain’t just for the glamourous people anymore.

Those things make “Glamour Profession” bearable, even pleasant actually, but to be honest I’d have still rather they put “Babylon Sisters” twice on Side 1 than to be treated with the peculiar car references sung over pulsating beats.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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