Steely Dan Sunday, “Three Picture Deal” (2008)

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Is it fantasy, twisted reality or just plan good story telling? Whatever it is, Walter Becker’s second solo album goes out on a strong note.

As in the preceding song, “God’s Eye View,” Becker and producer Larry Klein employed Roger Rosenberg for the song’s big solos, but this time Rosenberg brings his big gun. Rosenberg’s baritone sax is an improbable yet perfect tool for this pop/reggae melody. How else can you convey images of both elegance and sleaze?

Keyboardists Ted Baker and Jim Beard add playful yet coy piano and synthesizer elements while guitarist Jon Herington and drummer Keith Carlock work hand in glove with Walter Becker’s bass to provide the tune a strong yet nuanced reggae foundation. Someone gets an uncredited, brief but effective guitar solo on the track too. Is it Becker? Dean Parks? Herington?

As in the preceding moments on Circus Money, Becker provides lyrical gravitas any collage dropout would be proud to have and a heft rarely equaled in the rock lyrical world. Becker makes the perfect observer, reporting on the Hollywood climb of his starlet babe. Did she just trade up to a new man for her three picture deal? Will she keep Becker as her back door man?

One thing is certain. Becker’s voice as a solo artist has been silent for more than 5 years and Steely Dan has been treading water without new work for over 10. It looks as these questions may go unanswered.

Next Sunday we see what Becker’s partner, Donald Fagen has to offer. Does it reach the heights of Becker’s Circus Money?

Here’s a hint … NO.

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

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