Steely Dan Sunday, “Memorabilia” (2012)

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*** STEELY DAN SUNDAY INDEX ***

I love most Steely Dan songs. I love most Walter Becker songs. I love a few Donald Fagen songs and dismiss a few of them (actually I dismissed a chunk of the Morph the Cat album).

The song “Memorabilia” from Fagen’s Sunken Condos fell into the ‘dismissed’ category initially. However, I admit I was wrong. It’s not the filler track on Sunken Condos (we get to that one in three weeks).

Musically the song boast a tasty and deep flugelhorn solo from Michael Leonhart. In fact, Leonhart proved to be the Swiss army knife of the song, handling a variety of vintage, analog keyboards, drums, background vocals and percussion. His work on this song is a reminder that though he’s a Grammy award winning jazz composer, Michael Leonhart has made fine, high quality and eclectic rock records of his own, such as 2010’s Seahorse & the Storyteller.

Curiously, “Memorabilia” lyrically fits alongside the songs on the first of his triad of albums, The Nightfly. Fagen takes his listener to a back room full of mystery and intrigue surrounding old pictures, toys, and bobbles a baby boomer might find interesting. Unlike songs from the Nightfly or Kamakiriad for that matter, “Memorabilia” has a relatively simple song structure and relies heavily on its refrain.

Good clean listening yes, but not nearly as heady as the next track, “Weather In My Head”.

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.
  • DoctorMu

    Another superb Fagen composition. Although Sunken Condos is kinda a DIY with the SD band as guests, DF captures a live “feel” while providing warmth, charm, and immediacy missing from 21st Century SD. The horn chart and verses + bridge are sublime. Deceptively sophisticated. Donald’s a master at making it look and sound easy. One commenter quipped “Donald’s so laid back, he’s horizontal.” He’s passed death (Morph the Cat) and left it in the dust…

    Post-Apocalypso

    I love Paging Audrey, the magnificent Downtown Canon, and the carnival-like Selfish Gene but there’s a reason the off-tracks on SC are all on YouTube and Walter’s aren’t despite the superb musicianship.