Aja (Shm-Sacd) SACD, Import
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Limited edition Japanese only SACD and SHM pressing. Features 2003 DSD mastering. Universal. 2010.
History gives Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the last, hearty laugh on this, the crown jewel in their remarkable canon of '70s Mensa pop. Sneaking onto the charts a half-decade earlier with sinuous, jazz-inflected "rock," the dysfunctional duo's acerbic, anti-heroic visions had been critically lauded for their band identity and killer guitar riffs, then promptly challenged when the two songwriters retired from the road, dissolved any formal band lineup, and used the studio as laboratory. Aja carried the added indignity of its increased focus on sophisticated jazz models and musicianship, which carried the Dan's ambitions even further in terms of suave harmonies, intricate song structures, and brilliant playing. Time has proven them wiser than their rock crit detractors: These seven songs abound in knotty plots, sneaky imagery, and drop-dead brilliant performances from a blue chip studio repertory studded with first-call jazz players epitomized by Wayne Shorter's towering solo on the title song. From the hard-boiled jazz romance of "Deacon Blues" to the twisted Homeric vamp of "Home at Last," the veiled but ominous swing of "Peg" to the sci-fi eroticism of "Josie," Aja is a modern pop classic and the coolest fusion record no one ever thought to lump in that category. --Sam Sutherland --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I already own the box set, and wanted to upgrade to the remastered CD's because of good reviews on the "improved" sound. The remastering is subtle - the sound is cleaner, clearer and has more depth, but has retained all the dynamics without being overly loud or bright. However, without a hi-fi stereo system, I doubt most people would notice any improvement over the oringal CD's or the box set - previously released versions already sounded quite good. So, it's an unnecessary purchase for most people(hence, my reason for deducting one star).
The remastered version includes lyrics and extra running commentary, which is continued on each successive CD.
If you like this album, you may want to check out the DVD, "Classic Albums - the Making of Aja".
to impossible, to find fault with this. These 1999 remasters are
fantastic. The drumming on the title track "Aja" is superb, amazing!
The whole construction of "Deacon Blues" is majestic. When this was
released in '77 I purchased a vinyl copy immediately. I was a DanFan
from the get go and that's 40 years back. As always, the sidemen put
it out for Becker/Fagen. Bernard Purdie and Larry Carlton. Joe Sample
and Tom Scott. Lee Ritenour and Tim Schmit....I could go on but I'll
spare you. This is an excellent album at a fantastic price. Get a copy
for yourself and a friend! I ordered two, for just that reason.....
I am a jazz pianist-classical composer with 40 years experience. Each of those years I have had to pay tribute to one influence or another--Debussy, Ravel, Hindemith; Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Miles...and yes, Steely Dan. The infectious sophistication of the lyrics, the wonderful harmonic concepts, and rhythmic drive, the perfection of performance--all these elements fall into place in this most perfect of musical expressions. Aja well deserves the accolades hearlding it as the record of the decade--it will carry that kudo even further through the years with many of us listeners.
A personal note: A close friend of mine--Jim Keltner, drummer--told me what it was like working on this recording. He walked into the studio to face a six-page drum part for Josie. This was rather an unusual occurance in the pop music field of the day; this is testimony to the perfection sought by Donald and Walter. They would perform different versions of the tunes with different players and select the version closest to their vision. Jim's version was the one they used for Josie. Jim told me the work he did on this recording was one of the most pleasurable musical experiences in his professional career--coming into the studio to find all these great players preparing to work on this monumental recording project. He is proud to have been associated with Aja.
I personally feel that on all levels this recording is one of the most compelling, satisfying musical endeavors ever undertaken. It is moving on all levels, and to all who love artistic expression, this recording should be a welcome addition to their personal library.
And, oh my God, is this album tight (as a previous reviewer very aptly put it).
This is B&F at their wittiest, funkiest, and shrewdest. The song craft is impeccable: the lyrics are thrifty, but dagger-sharp. (Example: "Home At Last" condenses Homer's "Odyssey" into two stanzas.) The melodies are full of catchy hooks and soulful grooves that blend jazz and rock together so smoothly that it makes you wonder why so many other supposed "fusion bands" that preceded SD, who tried to combine rock and jazz, mixed that delicate cocktail all wrong. (The key is shaken, not just stirred...)
Also, B&F decided to bring in some of the best jazz session players (like the late Victor Feldman) to get the sound and precision they envisioned, even stepping out of the limelight to let the session players' chops shine. And while SD often took a lot of heat for using session players instead of a set line-up of band members, the end result is musicianship unlike you'll hear on any other "pop" album that stands the test of time.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Music I loved when it was originally issued on vinyl, and I still do today.Published 7 months ago by Richdude
I have always lovewd this album.I now have it on cd...I play it in my car. It is also a great album.....vpPublished 10 months ago by vito a. pappano
I have several copies of this in vinyl and all are better than this particular CD. Not sure why but as noted, the music is great - a must have standard for any Steely Dan fan.Published on June 27 2014 by Randy Hayward