Everything Must Go represents a significant contrast to all the prior Steely Dan albums before it with the possible exception of Countdown To Ecstasy, in that the rhythm tracks were recorded live for all the songs (except “The Last Mall”). Having drummer Keith Carlock in the same room with bassist Becker, Fender Rhodes player Fagen, and guitarists Hugh McCracken and Jon Herington gives the songs on Everything Must Go a playful edge which is somewhat lacking in the band’s predecessors. The song, “Pixeleen” is a fine example of this unbridled enthusiasm. The rhythm track with Carlock locked in with Walter Becker is fantastic and the rhythm guitars are crisp and funky.
In contrast to the world created within the song ”Green Book,” Becker’s and Fagen’s lyrics are firmly rooted in real world Manhattan. The lyrics tell the tale of young, cool, fashionable kids living life in the dangerously exciting and fast big city.
Becker and Fagen call on Carolyn Leonhart to help tell the story making the song as close to a Steely Dan duet as we ever get. Additionally, vocalist Michael Harvey delivers an understated but essential background vocal.
To cap off the song, jazz pianist Bill Charlap makes another fantastic cameo appearance on piano (he provided a wonderful Fender Rhodes part on the song “Godwhacker” too). Charlap’s piano was also played live with the rhythm section and was rumored to be a first take.
“Pixeleen” has all the parts of a classic Steely Dan song and throws in a few new elements too.