Steely Dan Sunday: “Countermoon” (1993)

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Donald Fagen gets down with the slowed-down, hand-clapping funk of “Countermoon,” a song that like the preceding “Trans-Island Skyway” is a song that could have been better. It does groove well — as do nearly every other Fagen song — and that’s a tight, in the pocket rhythm guitar by Georg Wadenius.

On the other hand, Fagen’s keyboard sampling of a tenor sax — using the alias “Illinois Elohainu” — is cheesy by Casio proportions. (Where the hell are you, Phil Woods?) Meanwhile, the vamp-heavy melody is flat compared to his usual standards. The extended coda brings out both of the worst features of “Countermoon,” just letting that vamp run to a slow fade-out with the fake sax meandering through it. They seemed genuinely unsure on how to end this track.

The storyline is about a celestial object that acts as Cialis in reverse whenever it appears in the night sky, as Fagen ties together science fiction and romantic tragedy, with a little humor tossed in. The prose is not quite as silly as the premise, but this isn’t his proudest moment, either.

“Countermoon” might make your head nod and your feet tap a little, but there’s not much else going for it. Have we reached “Snowbound,” yet?

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