Steely Dan Sunday, “My Waterloo” (1994)

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Somewhere in the distant future we’ll finally reach Walter Becker’s Circus Money in this series, but today brings us to a song that, looking back, is an advance taste to that 2008 release. Becker along with his erstwhile partner Fagen loves the island grooves, and we saw how several songs from The Royal Scam made this clear. Circus Money is nearly a complete homage to reggae, but on 11 Tracks Of Whack he makes only a couple of nods to Jamaica, and one of those is “My Waterloo.”

Becker doesn’t change his singing style or even his lyrical style to match the Caribbean groove, but I’d much rather hear him play the music on his terms than do some superfluous, straight kind of homage. The programmed drums are even an asset this time around, because reggae beats are famously steady (some might even say even rock steady), and Becker’s familiar fat bass line enhances the vibe. His lead guitar is just as easily recognizable, with sharp, incisive lines, but the instrumental break is way too brief.

Yet another downcast theme, Becker has finally found the time to meet a tragic beat Napoleon and faces his own Waterloo. The light, sunny melody and contagious riddim makes the blue lyrics of no consequence to the happy feeling. “My Waterloo” might not be one of Becker’s glowing moments but it’s danceable fun and demonstrates a firm grasp on yet another one of his favorite influences.

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