Steely Dan Sunday, “H Gang” (2006)

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<<< BACKWARD (“Morph The Cat/Morph The Cat (Reprise)”) ||| ONWARD (“What I Do”) >>>


It wasn’t a good sign when I couldn’t find my copy for the album Morph The Cat. On my list of Steely Dan/Becker/Fagen related album this one ranks at the bottom for a number of reasons. Still, I remember my enthusiasm prior to the album’s release when I hear the pre-album track, “H Gang”.

Maybe it was the interesting lyrics about a fantasy five chord all female band making their fabled return. Maybe it was the allure of a sexy Asian group who would kick your ass if you dared to jump on the stage with them. Maybe it was hearing Jon Herington playing lead guitar for the first time on a Steely Dan related recording.

All of these pieces where a plus for me with this song. Add to it the first time new Steely Dan touring bassist Freddie Washington (who replaced long time touring bassist Tom Barney after the Everything Must Go tour) is teamed with the regular gang of Steely Dan players (Keith Carlock, Ted Baker, Walt Weiskopf, Roger Rosenberg et. al) and how could you go wrong?

Donald Fagen didn’t go wrong, but he didn’t hit a home run either. Fagen’s production is pretty dry for one thing. This is the only Steely Dan related studio project produced solely by Fagen and it seems formulaic. There are many interesting small parts but few standout bits. In fact, it almost seems a waste of the considerable talents of the band he assembled.

The “H Gang” features Wayne Krantz and Hugh McCracken on guitar along with Herington but their performance is underwhelming. Add to this Fagen’s laid back lead vocal and it’s hard to sense the enthusiasm that mirrors the enthusiasm conveyed in the lyrics. Luckily, things get darker and more interesting on the album, starting with next week’s track, “What I Do.”

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