5.0 out of 5 stars
The ultimate swan song? Let's hope not!, June 19 2003
Note: I've revised my original rating from 4 to 5 stars. With repeated listenings, I find this to be not only a recording without a weak track, but the best thing I've heard in many years, and among the best recordings Steely Dan has ever done, including Aja. The original review follows as it first appeared [though I've corrected a couple of spelling errors], but I would add that I no longer think of this as a possible swan song--it's just too good. 'Green Room' has become a favorite, but my favorite keeps changing. I suggest a minimum of 10 complete listens before deciding.
I'm looking forward to hearing as many of these tracks performed live as possible. As much as I liked 2vN, I couldn't make the same claim for the Y2K tour--I was then still more interested in hearing the older stuff.
I've given the Dan's new release, Everything Must Go, multiple listens over the past few days and give it a big thumbs-up.
That wasn't my initial reaction. I suspect listeners-myself included-may be guilty of placing expectations on artists to behave as they once did; as they did when we first became enamored with their artistry. But people [hopefully] grow and mature over a period of thirty years, and Becker and Fagen are not afraid to bring such maturity into their work. If I may, I'd like to suggest that listeners attempt to strip themselves of such expectations and immerse themselves in the current offering on its own terms. You will not be disappointed!
I highly recommend cranking up 'Godwhacker' while driving. Becker's bassline and guitar solo kicks... I'm not big on dancing, but I'm ready when I hear this.
And I don't recall two Dan songs that have evoked more emotion within me than 'Things I Miss the Most' and the title tune, 'Everything Must Go' [EMG].
When I first learned of the Dan's choice of EMG as the title for this CD, it immediately conjured up a thought that this would be it: their last effort. If so, I will remain grateful for all they've created over the years.
Or maybe this is reading too much into it. Maybe EMG, the song, should simply be thought of as a great recording, reason enough to use it as the title of the CD. Please listen to Walt Weiskopf's beautiful saxophone work and the melodic phrasing of the lyrics.
But I remain suspicious. When I consider EMG's placement as the last track on the CD, and the lyrics themselves, I can't help but interpret this as a possible swan song. Will they also leave this as the last performance of the last encore during the EMG Tour? If so, I can only envision people exiting in tears. The thought of EMG as a swan song is truly sad, but, if true, has any artist ever bowed out with such high quality?
I was a bit put off at first by the more poppy cuts, 'The Last Mall' and 'Blues Beach,' but now find them lighthearted and enjoyable. Of course, apocalyptic and fatalistic images don't hurt the songs' credibility as honest works of the Dan.
At age 48, I'm a beginner pianist and will be performing 'Here at the Western World' in front of approximately 100 people at this summer's annual recital of my teacher's students. It's a respectable rendition, I suppose, especially when considering my limited background. I'm just hoping the song itself will catch someone's ear in the audience. I know my teacher, a 50ish Berklee grad, enjoys it. Last week she was looking at the lyrics while I was playing, and asked, "What's this 'lay down your Jackson' mean?"