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Steely Dan Aja: Classic Albums

Donald Fagen , Walter Becker    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

This profile of Steely Dan's elegant 1977 masterpiece, Aja, is a feast for Dan fans, a thoughtful, satisfyingly detailed assessment of the album and its bejeweled fusion of jazz, R&B, rock, and pop. Better yet, the documentary's producers elicit atypically straightforward, revealing interviews from the group's stealthy principals, songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who jettison enough of their signature sarcasm to touch on the autobiographical threads, cultural anomie, and serious musical ambition audible in their work. In that respect, the production rivals any extant interviews with this proudly cerebral, occasionally evasive musical team.

The duo, along with producer Gary Katz, engineer Roger Nichols, and a generous cross-section of the crack New York and Los Angeles musicians featured on the sessions, dissect the sleek layers of the songs both musically and lyrically, both in modern performances featuring the original players and in control-room playbacks of the original multitrack master tapes. Becker and Fagen prove articulate, self-aware, and dryly funny subjects, and the subtlety and richness of the music offer an ample canvas for discovery. --Sam Sutherland

Special Features

Originally produced for cable and home video as a documentary project, the Classic Albums series offers in-depth profiles of enduring rock and pop albums built around first-person interviews with the artists, producers, and musicians that created them. That audio focus creates an ironic, largely perceptual problem for DVD release, since the segments aren't intended to replace the original audio recordings, only to expand upon them: these are conventional DVDs, not harbingers of true audio DVD optimized for sonic resolution, and they are not mixed to exploit surround playback. If you haven't heard these albums, nearly all of them landmarks in late-20th-century pop, then this isn't the place to start, and Aja magnifies that issue through the very high standard of the original audio recording, itself a true audiophile work. If you do know the album, however, the Classic Albums presentation is a handsomely produced, revealing companion. --Sam Sutherland


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
A very well done dvd and a must view for any Steely Dan fan. No fan of the band will be disappointed with this purchase. Just be prepared for more "words" than music.
Personally, however, I always felt "Katy Lied" was the band's best work. Whether or not "Aja" can be considered a classic album, worthy of a dvd documentary in the company of albums like the Who's "Who's Next" & The Band's "The Band" is highly debatable. For the casual Steely Dan fan, best off saving you cash on this one and getting the Steely Dan box set instead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Appreciation for "Aja" now runs EVEN deeper! Sept. 21 2002
Format:DVD
If I were a tree, one or more of my rings would be taken up with Steely Dan's masterpiece "Aja," as every microscopic note has infiltrated my soul over the last quarter century. That said, seeing how this album was recorded behind the scenes lends an even greater appreciation. Listening to the world's funkiest drummer, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, dissect his Purdie Shuffle is nirvana for this drummer. Rick Marotta's groove on "Peg" is also a wonder to behold. Becker and Fagen are truly masters at getting the right performance from the right person and integrating them into the most amazing whole. Whereas most musicians this meticulous would get a soulless performance, Becker and Fagen get one for the ages. My only quibble is that "I Got The News" was only played during the closing credits, and not discussed at all, since it's just as strong as the other tracks. Still, make a great album even greater and pick this up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The analysis of a musical masterpiece Dec 15 2003
By Glenn
Format:VHS Tape
For anybody who loves Steely Dan and especially appreciates their "Aja" CD, I highly recommend this video.
This video goes into great detail on the methods and mixing of most of the songs on the "Aja" CD (all except "I've Got The News"). They include appearances of "guest" musicians who they used in some of the songs. Took each component of each song separately, then showed how they all blend in together to make the final product.
A very interesting video enhanced by Becker and Fagen's dry witty humorous remarks along the way. The only disappointment was that they omitted a full analysis on "I've Got The News" instead just playing that song with the closing credits.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Detail Dec 24 2011
Format:DVD
This series which covers over 30 different albums now, is usually very good and this DVD is no exception. Walter Becker and Donald Fagan of Steely Dan discuss in detail the songs on Aja, released in 1977. Becker and Fagan spend time at the sound board reviewing the multitrack tapes of the album and other musicians such as Rick Marotta,Denny Dias and Michael McDonald discuss their roles in the making of the album. Being a drummer,seeing Marotta recreate the unique beat to 'Peg' was a highlight. For those who want an in depth look at the songs from this great album, it is a must see.
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By A Customer
Format:DVD
If you are a Steely Dan fan, you have to buy this. The insights into how the pair work in the studio, hearing Fagen play back and discuss discarded guitar solos for Peg, hearing the musicians talk about the studio work - it is all fascinating. My 8 year old son is a fan and he wanted to see it over again almost immediately. So did I!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Looooooved it! Nov. 5 2002
Format:DVD
This one is definitely a must for any musician/Steely Dan fanatic. The interaction between Donald and Walter behind the board is priceless and a window into their songwriting personalities. Very cool current-day interviews with the players from the record and even a little (very little) vintage footage. The only thing I don't get is how on earth there was no mention at all of the amazing playing/soloing of Steve Gadd on the title track. Very strange...Non-players might fall asleep (like my wife did) but I personally consider this one in my top 3 DVD's! P.S. If you want GREAT Steely Dan concert DVD, pick up Two Against Nature Jazz-Rock party in Sensuous Surround Sound. DTS 5.1 that sounds INCREDIBLE!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic on DVD&Album Aug. 16 2002
Format:DVD
Steely Dan are One of the Coolest,baddest,Tightest Acts I've Ever Heard.I truly enjoy&get a Kick out of there Musical&Lyric Presentation.but to get a Chance to see the Guys Behind the Scenes doing there thing is a Added Bonus&that is what this DVD is to me.it's a Glimpse into there Factory or Working&Creating a Truly Great Album.now all the Great Help on this Album also will leave your Mouth Hitting the Floor.we always Knew that DOnald&Walter were a trip&this Shows that as well.this is a Great Journey Into Some Very Important Music Making.
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Format:DVD
It's cliché to talk about what a masterpiece AJA is. We should just consider ourselves fortunate to have the characters who created what Modern Recording Magazine called "Genius at Work" still around and willing to dissect this album. For those involved in the process of recording (Musicians, Producers, Engineers), this DVD provides an invaluable look at the recording process under the guise of the ultimate perfectionists (Becker and Fagen). We also see how the elements that result in such a classic album run the gamut from cheesy little synthesizer riffs (which embellish horn lines), to the fanatical recording and re-recording of the guitar solo on "Peg". For a bass player, this DVD is especially valuable, as the sequence of events that resulted in many of AJA's bass lines are shown at an almost microscopic level. As a drummer, my only disappointment is the sparse information about the actual song Aja. But this is a minor drawback that will be quickly forgotten once you are overcome by the trance-like spell that this amazing DVD casts...
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