Steely Dan Sunday, “Lies I Can Believe” (1994)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

With vicious and vulgar prose, it’s easy to figure out why “Fall of ’92” failed to get included on 11 Tracks of Whack. I’m not really sure what barred “Lies I Can Believe” from making it onto the disc.

It’s not without flaws: a mid-tempo groove formed by a synth bass and programmed drums sound dated even for 1994, but several tracks that got the green light are guilty of that, too. The keyboard part is spare and ashen, but it’s a perfect companion to Becker’s lyrics about — what else? — another relationship gone to the crapper. This time, though, the words bear out a vulnerability, sorrow and fragility, without any hint of irony. And Becker belts it out with the precisely right intonation, truly sounding like a man who reluctantly knows there’s no salvaging the affair. He’ll never threaten, say, Boz Scaggs, but this should convince anyone that the man is an underrated vocalist.

The exposed feelings and the straight way it’s delivered is uncommon for Steely Dan and especially for Walter Becker. So maybe it’s those departures from style that made it just too incompatible with the rest of the fare. In an album that gleefully disregarded flow, that shouldn’t have mattered if that was the reason. “Lies I Can Believe” was believably good enough for inclusion.

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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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