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5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Balance!
For those who are turned off by some of Steely's slickness on later records, their sophomore effort is that nice blend of sophistication and muscle. There are only 8 songs here, but everyone is a gem (and none ever get skipped!). Whether you want stomping rock (the great for driving "Bodhisattva") or jazzy sophistication ("Razor Boy," "Your Gold...
Published on Nov. 24 2003 by D. Hawkins

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3.0 out of 5 stars Studio Reflection Of Their Touring Days
Walter Becker & Donald Fagen's musical creation was apparently not meant for live shows (at least during the 70s). The smooth sterility of their perfected sound could not survive many tours, which is why Becker & Fagen soon haulted any further live shows (until the 90s anyway), frustrated and disappointed with them altogether. Because it was written and recorded during...
Published on Oct. 18 2002 by Bud Sturguess


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4.0 out of 5 stars Damn Good, June 17 2004
By 
Rock God "Rock God" (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
Dan heads are gonna hate me for saying this, but I don't think this is their best. I prefer the 1st album and the ones immediately following this, but there are some seriously unmatched moments here. "Bodhisattva", "Razor Boy", "King of the World", "Boston Rag" all carry an aura that has not been equalled by anyone since. The only reason that I am not giving this a 5, well there's two of them:
1. The MASS exposure of the two songs on each and every one of their compilations and on classic rock radio. You know which ones I'm referring to. Hint: I didn't name them in the 1st paragraph. If you don't know....
GO BUY THE ALBUMS AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!!!
2. I'm not big into "Pearl of the Quarter", which boasts a New Orleans- influenced sound that Becker and Fagen chose not to revisit.
But the Dan sounds like a rock band for the first and only time on this album, and if you want a good portrait of why they became a staple on rock radio then and now, one spin will reveal all the reasons. How can any true rock fan live without those four songs I mentioned earlier???? Can you write a song as complex as "Boston Rag"? Can you play Denny Dias' guitar parts on "Bodhisattva"? I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT.
NOTE: IF YOU LIKE THIS AND "PRETZEL LOGIC", YOU NEED, AND I WILL EMPHATICALLY RESTATE, NEED RECORD PLANT '74. GO FIND IT.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Balance!, Nov. 24 2003
By 
D. Hawkins (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
For those who are turned off by some of Steely's slickness on later records, their sophomore effort is that nice blend of sophistication and muscle. There are only 8 songs here, but everyone is a gem (and none ever get skipped!). Whether you want stomping rock (the great for driving "Bodhisattva") or jazzy sophistication ("Razor Boy," "Your Gold Teeth" etc.) you'll find it here. Although their later albums are completely brilliant, some would use this album as argument that the Dan should have stayed an intact BAND, instead of graduating to the cream of the crop session musicians they subsequently used. Truly, all band members sound brilliant on this album, so who knows why Becker and Fagen wanted to get rid of Jim Hodder, for example? Regardless of their reasons, this CD is great to take along in the car and crank as you sing along at the top of your lungs to "My Old School" (you know you do it.). The remaster sounds divine and on the 30th anniversary of this legendary album, we should pause and give thanks for the many blessings Walter and Donald have bestowed upon us. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steely Dan: Show Biz Kids, Sept. 25 2003
By 
Alan Caylow (USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
How bizarre it is that Steely Dan's brilliant second album, 1973's "Countdown To Ecstasy," wasn't exactly a hit upon it's initial release. Maybe it was the weird watercolor painting on the cover. Or maybe it was the first single, "Show Biz Kids," which contained the f-word (though the naughty word was edited out for single release). Or how about bad marketing on MCA Records' part...who the heck knows? Thankfully, time has proven "Countdown" to be one of Steely Dan's very best albums. Dan masterminds Walter Becker & Donald Fagen, along with guitarists Jeff "Skunk" Baxter & Denny Dias, as well as drummer Jim Hodder, totally cook on this magnificent set. Practically every single cut here is a Dan classic: the outstanding jazz/rock blowout that is "Bodhisattva," the cocktail pop of "Razor Boy," the awesome melodic rock of "The Boston Rag" (tell all your buddies that it ain't no drag!), and the salsa-esque "Your Gold Teeth." But it doesn't end there---there's also the slinky "Show Biz Kids," in which the band get into a single groove, stay there for the whole song, and jam into the heavens. This is followed by the masterful piano bopper "My Old School," the tasty, country-flavored "Pearl Of The Quarter," and the groovy finale, "King Of The World." The songs are amazing, Becker & Fagen & the gang are superb (both in their musical chemistry and studio skills), Fagen's vocals are very soulful, and the street-sensibile lyrics are intruiging. YOU will be in total ecstasy listening to Steely Dan's "Countdown To Ecstasy," one of the Dan's most supreme offerings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing, June 9 2003
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
As the 1970s fade into the memory holes of increasingly aging and forgetful baby boomers, certain musical accomplishments of that era stand out as truly timeless. "Countdown to Ecstasy" is one. Steely Dan fans know that the group's principals, Fagen and Becker, were jazz fanatics who found rock and roll an outlet for their creativity. But back in 1972, after a debut album of intricate, moody, LA pop, this album, the group's second, came as a huge surprise. At the time, "jazz rock fusion" was a big topic, with artists ranging from John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, Weather Report and even Miles Davis, to Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears claiming they had found that nexus. Some of them caught lightening once in a while, but to my taste, the hybrid rarely worked better than it did on this album, which claimed nothing for itself other than to be Steely Dan's follow-up, but demonstrated more depth of jazz understanding, jazz chops, and a truly intelligent idea of how to blend Dylan-esque lyrics, swinging rhythms, and orgiastic guitars into a seamless, natural, effortlessly brilliant, and remarkably varied set.
"Boddhistatva" is an incredible toe-tapper, a joke on the Eastern religion mania of the hippies, and a perfect setting for a couple of mindblowing guitar solos that both rock and swing like crazy. "King of the World" is apocalyptic science fiction with Jetson-like sounds, hanging easily on a fast, cool, jazzy bassline. The great Ray Brown plays stand up bass on the Latin-tinged "Razor Boy," and a tight, Basie-like horn section flavors the happy pop sound of "My Old School." "Your Gold Teeth" is a jazz workout, but "Pearl of the Quarter" somehow works in a country steel guitar, and "Show Biz Kids" has a great, pure rock and roll solo by ringer Rick Derringer of "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" fame.
Speaking of ringers, as everyone knows, Steely Dan eventually boiled down to the two writers and an assortment of session players, leaving the original band behind. Part of me was thinking today, "what would this album sound like if they had used all those great session players, instead of the band?" It might be a trip to hear what someone like Bernard Purdie or Steve Gadd might've done with "Boddishatva," or Larry Carlton on "King of the World." But I have to say, the original band acquits itself quite well on this album. It was designed to let them stretch out, and they gave us some of the tastiest playing on any Steely Dan album. The twin lead guitarists, Denny Dias and Jeff Skunk Baxter are frequently brilliant, and drummer Jim Hodder has a nice, light, swinging touch, and keeps steady time on both the jazzier and the rockier numbers. "Aja" is the greatest of all Steely Dan albums, but for me, this is their next best, and is just as involving.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Dan At The Top Of Their Form, March 19 2003
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
Hello. If you're reading this review, you either are A) checking out what others thought of this CD or B) maybe you've floated through the universe without finding this CD...so you're thinking of picking it up. This review is for the "B" crowd.
This CD is one of the best I own.
Steely Dan produces sly, very intelligent jazz-tinged pop-rock with cynical bents, superb instrumentals, and deliberately obscure themes. I *never* get bored with this CD, and repeated listenings always yield some new insights. I hate to say it, but this kind of music targets the higher IQ cohorts (whether they've missed with me is another story).
One warning on the remastered CDs: The last time I listened to a Dan remastered release, it was artificially bright. I have pristine copies of some of their LPs and did a comparison on a high-end stereo -- the CDs were punched up in the treble. So, if you have an audiophile system, you may not like what you hear. Of course, normal stereos may benefit from this kind of studio tinkering (though I think it's bad engineering form).
Compare to Thrill and Royal Scam.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blastoff To Ecstasy, Jan. 28 2003
By 
Tim Brough "author and music buff" (Springfield, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
How did these guys get so jaded so fast? While probably the least song-oriented of the Steely Dan albums, "Countdown To Ecstasy" is the most biting. It contains the most savage putdown of West Coast affluence this side of Frank Zappa in the form of "Show Biz Kids," and closes with "King Of The World," a Texan's post apocolypse look at the world that was once populated with "assassins cons and rapers."
The songwriting is consistent with "Can't Buy A Thrill's" gallery of losers, cruisers and ne'er do wells. If it was at all possible, the populi of Ecstasy-ville are more descriptively eccentric than before, perhaps from the Dan's having met them on the road.
This is also a strange precursor to the jazzy stretched out arrangements that would eventually emerge on "Aja." The bop-pop that kicks off the album with "Bodhisattva's" swirling guitar play would be brought up short by the next Steely Dan album, "Pretzel Logic." (Likely due more to Fagen And Becker's disgust with the rock touring life than anything else. The live version of "Bodhisattva" that you can find on "Gold" shows how much the band was contributing to the sound of this particular album.)
"Countdown" is probably as close to a live work as we could expect, and Steely Dan would never sound this loose again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Studio Reflection Of Their Touring Days, Oct. 18 2002
By 
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
Walter Becker & Donald Fagen's musical creation was apparently not meant for live shows (at least during the 70s). The smooth sterility of their perfected sound could not survive many tours, which is why Becker & Fagen soon haulted any further live shows (until the 90s anyway), frustrated and disappointed with them altogether. Because it was written and recorded during and straight after their limited touring days, "Countdown To Ecstacy" possesses the band's live sound captured in the studio.
The mood, pace, and grim attack found on this album are all excellent; the duo's tasty pessimism was in full play (refer to the cynical masterpiece 'Show Biz Kids'), and the material on "Countdown To Ecstacy" reflects their frustration of the rigours of unsatisfactory live shows and the horrors of stardom. Although this album has a number of memorable fan favorites like 'My Old School' and 'The Boston Rag,' many parts of the album seem rushed and hurried, even repetitve and feverish (another fan favorite 'Bodhisattva') and sometimes uninspired ('King of the World').
"Countdown To Ecstacy" can be admired for its raving, cynical wit and a feel that's a bit more rock-oriented than jazz-oriented, but its hastiness is hard to ignore.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The first entry in an incredible run, Sept. 3 2002
By 
Mark R. Van Wagenen "viagracat" (Elgin, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
Many people consider "Countdown to Ecstasy" the best Dan album ever. Personally, I think "Katy Lied" is better but having said that, "Countdown" is a great piece of work. It starts off strong with "Bodhisattva", one of the few real ...kicking songs they did and a classic leadoff track, followed beautifully by the much mellower and funky "Razor Boy". My favorite track might be "Your Gold Teeth" because of the great electric piano solos by Fagen and its length, which allowed Fagen, in his words, to "stretch out" (don't try to figure out the lyrics). "Show Biz Kids" is an early example of the great cynicism that permeated later albums like "Katy Lied", expressing disgust at the hedonistic and shallow lifestyles they found in LA (I guess such attitudes are not found in New York City, and as far as I know nobody forced Becker & Fagen at gunpoint to move to California. But I digress). "My Old School", the only single from the album, is far from the best track here, but does contain the horns that would be a Dan signature on albums like "Aja". "Pearl of the Quarter" is an underappreciated, beautiful love song not typical of the Dan, which may or may not be a good thing. Only clunkers are "Boston Rag (too slow)" and "King of the World" (weird). The album cover may be the best of the bunch. "Countdown" is an integral part of any Steely Dan collection for even casual fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dan Come Up Trumps, April 17 2002
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
Listening to the remastered Steely Dan CDs, I am struck with an overwhelming feeling that the early albums have aged better than the last few. The Royal Scam, for example, was meticulously crafted and painstakingly produced. Like Aja, it's something of a behemoth, an overpolished diamond, but lacks the rough 'n ready but sheer cavalier brilliance of Countdown to Ecstasy. Right from Bodhisattva, the gleam is in the eye, the pedal is on the metal, you can almost smell the smoke and empty take-away cartons in the studio, while Aja sounds like it was recorded in a bank vault under the supervision of men in white coats.
Paradoxically, it is often the most expensively produced albums that age the worst (this applies particularly to some records cut in the 80s). Countdown's timelessness lies in its off-the-cuff, humorous and rootsy feel (I don't know what 'rootsy' means but it sounds about right). It doesn't take itself too seriously. That said, Razor Boy, Boston Rag and Pearl of the Quarter are gems of sophisticated songwriting and arrangement, while the hits My Old School and Showbiz Kids still sound great. Like Katy Lied, Countdown is a record you can slap on, make a cup of tea, roll a cigarette and sit down and listen to all the way through and have a smile. The new sleeve notes, courtesy of Messrs. Fagan and Becker are a great read, and the kind of thing that keeps a great relationship between band and fans burning for generations to come. Thanks guys.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Even more thrills than "Can't Buy A Thrill!", Nov. 18 2001
By 
David Hugaert (Honolulu, HI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Countdown To Ecstasy (Audio CD)
On "Countdown To Ecstasy", Steely Dan's sophomoric effort, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker delve even deeper into their first-rate jazz-oriented flavorings, which are uniquely combined with "The Dan's" one-of-a-kind rock 'n roll stylings. These two genres provide an interesting backdrop in the opening track "Bodhisattva", which jump-starts this CD in fine Steely Dan fashion. "Razor Boy", "Pearl Of The Quarter" and "King Of The World" each have their moments, but the selections that really make "...Ecstasy" worth the purchase, are the smooth, ultra-hip hepcat tones of "The Boston Rag", the magical ambience of "Your Gold Teeth" and the festive "My Old School", as well as the power-driven "Bodhisattva". This is also the album where Fagen, Becker and the gang really get their creative teeth into their playing, getting their brand of jazz oriented rock down to a tee. No one can truly call themselves a true Steely Dan fan until they make "Countdown To Ecstasy" a part of their must have, must own CD collection. With this recently remastered version, no fan of "The Dan" can really go wrong. The group's follow-up title, "Pretzel Logic", is the perfect companion CD, so it would be wise to purchase both items simultaneously. One will find a virtual (digitally remastered) gold mine just waiting to be rediscovered!
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Countdown To Ecstasy
Countdown To Ecstasy by Steely Dan (Audio CD - 1998)
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