Steely Dan Sunday, “Hard Up Case” (1994)

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Throw together a funky, faux-reggae pulse, some dancehall horns, a delectably angular Becker guitar solo and his light-hearted humor about a relationship based on desperation, and you have a “Hard Up Case.” Taking a break from oblique references to Shakespeare, hipster 20th century literature and the like, Becker once again adjusts his aim at one of his favorite topics, busted up relationships.

It’s a subject he took on just two tracks earlier, but while “Book of Liars” was ruminative, introspective and complex, our irreverent narrator on “Hard Up Case” is practically laughing at his ex for being stupid enough to think that he was some “golden boy” (and even stupider for repeating the same mistake with some other joker she put in his place). His warbling, wavering vocal even ends up completing the mental picture of this loser she somehow saw as her pride and joy.

“Hard Up Case” is good for chuckling while grooving and nearly twenty years later it still makes me do a little of both.

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