“You’re a foxy lady. Your mama has a beautiful child. You’re built like a brick house and that’s no lie.” Wait a minute, did Donald Fagen sing that?
Fagen is no stranger to funky songs as already demonstrated by “Slinky Thing” and Fagen has had a bunch of respectable tours singing funky R&B covers under the Dukes of September moniker so “Out of The Ghetto” shouldn’t surprise. Fagen does a respectable job covering the Isaac Hayes gem from 1978, but I can’t help but be slightly disappointed.
Co-producer Michael Leonhart has mentioned in interviews that “Out of The Ghetto” made the album after a Fagen original was scrapped. While the Isaac Hayes song is a good song, Fagen adds little to the original. Indeed, if you are expecting a major overhaul similar to the stellar remake of “Ruby Baby” from The Nightfly album, you can’t but help be disappointed.
Fagen’s a stellar vocal and rhythm arranger yet here he stays more or less faithful to the originals main theme. Even the inspired, distorted guitar from Jon Herington and a cameo bass part from Freddie Washington can’t shake things up. The addition of violin and an end bass clarinet solo are interesting choices, but ultimately are just a brief blast of color in a fuzzy funk picture. Furthermore, the song would have benefitted for a Dennis Chambers’ drum track instead of the one laid down by “Earl Cooke Jr.”
I can’t help but wonder what gem or gems were left off of Sunken Condos. Luckily, the next track “Miss Marlene” does not disappoint.
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