Steely Dan Sunday, “Josie [Live]” (1995)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

The first of three Aja songs on Alive In America finally appears five tracks in, the brilliant yet fun party tune that caps that classic album, “Josie.” Also for the first time on Alive, we’ve encountered the original lead guitarist reprise his own role for the live version, because that original guitarist was Mr. Becker himself.

Dennis Chambers fills in Jim Keltner’s big shoes at the drum kit, and although the two are really not that close in styles, Chamber’s friskier technique gives the song a much needed spark. Everyone seems to be sleepwalking through the song except for Becker and Chambers. Either that, or else they’re so invested into the performance that everyone else seems to be mailing it in only by comparison. Regardless, it’s hard not to notice those two well above the rest of the band.

In either case, Chambers hard work is rewarded with a climatic solo the ends with Keltner’s iconic fill. Meanwhile, Becker, who’s been noodling around on his guitar the whole song, gets two featured solos himself (the second one ending with the same finishing lick that he used on the studio version of “Gaucho”). He does a decent job though at times it seems he’s trying too hard. Becker is usually most effective when his leads are short and precise, as it was in the original, studio version.

If I were in that crowd, I probably wouldn’t cared at all about those imperfections, because “Josie” is a feel-good tune that seem destined from the start to be a concert tune. After a long delay, we finally got to hear it that way.

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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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