RS #386: Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic


Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic

Release Date: 1974
Previously Owned: Yes
First Time Listen: No

Impressions: Holy crow, it’s been a while since my last update! Let’s Pretzel…The Dan seems kind of polarizing, so I’ll just say up front that I’m a big fan. I’ve mostly heard their songs broken up by a mix or as a part of Citizen Steely Dan boxed set. So we’ll see how these songs work as an album here. Funny, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” is a good song, but never a favorite of mine even though it quotes Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.” The album is full of jazz illusions like this and other The sound is immaculate. “Night By Night” sounds like an amazing ’70s tv cop theme song that would probably be about aliens or drugs or something. The Dan rarely did covers but they do a fairly straightforward instrumental cover of Duke Ellington “East St. Louis Toodle-oo” which ends up being like a nice intermission piece and a thematic transition into the Charlie Parker tribute “Parker’s Band.” Completely varied styles even a few sweet (for Steely Dan) numbers like “Any Major Dude.” I think “Through With Buzz” has really grown on me. Underrated short string quartet song about a guy done with drugs, booze, a person named “buzz”…all three?. I enjoy that their lyrics a fairly inscrutable. “Pretzel Logic” is about time travel? Supposedly, “Rikki” is about a seducing a pregnant woman? Or mailing a joint to yourself? Who knows? “Barrytown” is about Bob Dylan? Despite this conceptual density, the songs themselves are musically concise. “Monkey In Your Soul” has got a great bouncing beat with that funky marimba. Nobody’s sampled this song yet, even though it would cost millions.) I always thought these songs were great, but not my personal favorites, but after listening to them in sequence, they all add up and make sense as an album.
Starred Songs: “Any Major Dude,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” and “Pretzel Logic”
Sneaky Track: “Through With Buzz”
Should this album be on the list? Yes.
Will You Listen To This Again: Yes, maybe even today
Verdict: Lean, mean ’70s perfect jazz-rock gems with concise yet vague songwriting
Rating:  ★★★★★