Steely Dan Sunday, "My Rival" (1980)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

No movie where Steely Dan was commissioned to contribute a song for that movie’s soundtrack ever did well, not You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat, not FM, and not even a movie directed by the great John Huston, Phobia. I never watched Phobia but I understand it’s the only horror film he ever made and it stars Paul Michael Glaser (for those of you born after 1969, that’s the curly haired dude in the tv series Starsky & Hutch). The movie stiffed at the box office, and unlike “FM,” the Steely Dan song on the soundtrack, “My Rival” didn’t become a hit, either. Then again, the song wasn’t even released as a single.

“My Rival” did, however, become part of a Steely Dan album, and Gaucho was released a couple of months after the movie did. Here’s a song that in many ways was typcial for a Gaucho track: smooth groove oriented, pristinely recorded and hot shot guitarist’s contribution suppressed (this time, Rick Derringer’s). To be fair, it wasn’t meant for Derringer to take leads, that job fell on Steve Kahn, who did a decent job on the instrumental break, sounding much like — incidentally — the absent Walter Becker. “My Rival” also stands a little bit apart in its use of an organ. It’s hardly the first time Steely Dan has played one on a song, but it had been a while, and the smartly dispersed way Fagen plays it makes it stick out.

Nothing much else does, making this one of their more nondescript songs. Revisiting this cut thirty-odd years later, however, I find it’s held up to the test of time better than I thought it would. Seemingly better than how that John Huston movie fared, at least.

(“My Rival” begins at the 27:57 mark)

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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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