Steely Dan Sunday, “God’s Eye View” (2008)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

“…And the winner for best bass clarinet solo on a reggae or ska song goes to Roger Rosenberg!”

There’s no such award but if polka albums can get Grammys, why not this category? Roger Rosenberg is a world class baritone sax player (if you don’t believe me, check out his Sunnyside records release, Baritonality which was produced by Walter Becker) but his chops on his second instrument, the bass clarinet are equally impressive. Rosenberg gets to show off the chops on this track and also contribute to an album full of great individual solos in somewhat unlikely settings.

On Circus Money, Becker and producer Larry Klein get memorable solos from Becker on guitar on four tracks, a understated and lovey solo from guitarist Dean Parks on one track, a pair of stunning tenor sax solos from Chris Potter on two tracks and equally compelling contributions by Roger Rosenberg on the last two tracks.

The reggae setting which provides the foundation for the soloist and Becker’s evocative lyrics is slyly simple but becomes more and more alluring after repeated listening. “God’s Eye View” initially draws the listener in with its deceptively repetitive bass track, but with drummer Keith Carlock, all is not as simple as it seems, musically.

Becker working in tandem with Klein effectively engages nine backup singers in a call and response vocal entanglement which is effective in telling yet another tales of a relationship on the skids. Sure it’s now a familiar story, but Becker never tells the story the same way twice and rarely as effectively as he does here. How can Becker (or for that matter, Donald Fagen) top this? He hasn’t, or at least not yet.

Not that the song “Three Picture Deal” is a loser, but keep your pants on, we will explore that next week.

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Chicago. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.