Katy. She giveth and she taketh away. A pristine, but intimate sound crippled. Wonderous melodies and twisted stories. Jaw dropping performances courtesy of crack musicians. “Gullywater” — alternately known as “Funky Driver” — is another Katy Lied outtake, and it’s a satisfying little extra helping. The ditty that has made the rounds is an instrumental with Jeff Porcaro, Michael Omartian, and Chuck Rainey. Mr. Porcaro works up the entire kit like a beatnik Keith Moon meets Buddy Rich. Omartian starts the engine with a pulsating LA jazz set of bouncy hooks and we’re off. Nice little countermelody on Rainey’s bass fits like a glove.
If “Night by Night” was the theme song to a cop TV show that never was, “Gullywater” could have easily have been a catchy theme song to one of the buddy programs of the era; a tune simply begging for visuals. Very snappy and upbeat, while featuring chord progressions in the segue between verses and during the “chorus” that have the elegance and sophistication of “Dr. Wu.” If there’s a bit of detachment in the sound of Royal Scam, Aja, and Gaucho, it feels like there’s a lot of soul and heart infused into the Katy sessions.
Listen for the very nice interplay between Omartian and Porcaro. The chords in the left hand sync with the pulse. Omartian embellishes with tasteful arpeggios while Jeff dances with the toms. The beat is allowed to move and breathe. I swear I can feel brief eye contact or a nod among them as they jam along. There’s a pause in the backbeat as Omartian and Porcaro fill in the bridge with a robust foundation of counterswing and a short drum solo as we settle in for the finale. You better c’mon man and take a piece of Mr. Steely Dan.
Another cut with great promise, only to be shelved along with so many other nuggets, heard and unheard. Perhaps not a Top 5 tune lay in the heart of this beast, but a heart that was very much ALIVE.
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- Steely Dan Sunday, “Gullywater” aka “Funky Driver” (1975, unreleased) - August 10, 2014