The Royal Scam

The Royal Scam Album

Format Label Number
LP ABC ABC 931
LP MCA MCA-1595
CS MCA MCAC-1595
CD MCA MCAD-31193
CD* MCA 088 112 051-2

 

* THE CLASSIC ORIGINAL ALBUM
NEW DIGITAL REMASTERING
Supervised by The Artists
With All Original Graphics & Lyrics,
PLUS NEW LINER NOTES BY
WALTER BECKER & DONALD FAGEN

088 112 051-2


The Royal Scam

SONGS BY  Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

("The Fez") by Becker/Fagen/Griffin)

 KEYBOARDS: Donald Fagen, Victor Feldman, 
Paul Griffin, Don Grolnick

GUITARS: Walter Becker, Larry Carlton, Dennis Dias, 
Dean Parks, Elliot Randall 

BASS: Walter Becker, Chuck Rainey 

DRUMS: Rick Marotta, Bernard Purdie 

PERCUSSION: Gary Coleman, Victor Feldman 

HORNS: Chuck Findley, Bob Findley, Slyde Hyde, 
Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, John Klemmer 

BACK-UP VOCALS: Donald Fagen, Venetta Fields, 
Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, Michael McDonald, 
Tim Schmit 

LEAD VOCALS: Donald Fagen 

HORNS ARRANGED BY Chuck Findley, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

SPECIAL THANKS TO Larry Carlton and 
Mr. Garry Sherman 

ENGINEERED BY  Roger Nichols at ABC Studios
in Los Angeles, and Elliot Scheiner at A&R Studios 
in New York 

MIX DOWN ENGINEERES: Roger Nichols, 
Barney Perkins 

TECHNO: Bob DeAvila, Stuart Dawson,
Warren Wallace, John, Roy, Jerry, Leslie and Buns 

NURSE: Karen Stanley

ART DIRECTION AND DESIGN: Ed Caraeff 

COVER ART: Charlie Ganse and Zox 

TYPOGRAPHIC DESIGN: Tom Nikosey

PRODUCED BY Gary Katz

*DIGITALLY REMASTERED BY Roger Nichols at
Digital Atomics, Miami

REISSUE COORDINATION: Beth Stempel

REISSUE ART DIRECTION: Vartan

REISSUE DESIGN: Mike Diehl

 

"Bring me some bandages
and there'll be sex"
-girl in a Bruce Jay Friedman story


"If the 1960's can be seen as a decade largely characterized by musical alienation, with its more radical manifestations often directed explicity against the status quo, against traditional concert music, and against the concert situation itself, the 1970's represented a period of widespread reconciliation."

-Robert P. Morgan,
"20th Century Music"

It was the hippest of times, it was the squarest of times - mostly the latter. And while it was certainly true that we found ourselves in the unenviable position of being labelmates with the likes of Tommy Roe and Freddie Fender, we yet aspired to see our own names written on the stars alongside the greats, near greats, and ingrates of jazz, funk, and/or rhythm and blues, depending. The dim half light of near-quasi-celebrity in which we basked notwithstanding, as the seventies wore on, we found ourselves feeling kind of empty inside - as though driving home from a sodden one-nighter with some eminently forgettable made-for-TV-movie queen, say Sharon Farrell or even Susan St. James. Blinded by the as-always-too-bright L.A. skyscape, at once faintly hungry and vaguely nauseated, we switch on the scratchy car radio to soothe our weary psyches, and lo - we are mocked and assaulted by the tinny bleat of our own recorded music, its every flaw hideously magnified, its every shortcoming laid bare. O cosmic hipsters, flipsters, fingerpopping daddies - ye mighty gods of jump music - why hast thou forsaken us? Well, probably for lots of good reasons, both known and unknown, but we come away from this soul wringing thought experiment convinced of two things - 1) this town is Going Down With The Beast, and 2) these L.A. cats are making us sound like a couple of goddamn pussies.
Having recently relocated in the 457 zone (that's out Malibu way, babies) and as we began work on a new collection of fresh and ultra-hard-hitting material designed to redeem ourselves on the public airwaves, it so happens that on a certain magic night both of your humble narrators had strangely similar precognitive dreams involving a) the Brill Building, b) Larry de Tourette, doorman/mascot of same, and c) fear of lifetime employment at Colony Records, located on the ground floor of same. Even allowing for a brief cameo by an unidentified pair of teenage Eurasian deaf mute babysitters towards the end of Act 3 (Becker) or an extended scenario involving amateur theatricals, a tank of nitrous oxide and a snooty upper eastside middle school for French girls (Fagen), the effect of these apocalyptic visions was much as though we had both drawn "The Hanged Man" during Bard College stoner seance on All Hallow's Eve.

In other words, we were, according to these distressing prognostications, well and truly fucked - unless we took heed and reinvented ourselves on the streets of the City of Class, and pronto.
A period of research and reconnaissance ensued, the chief purpose being to determine a) who exactly played the drums on a certain Laura Nyro record (Bernard Purdie? Herb Lovell? Artie Schneck?) and b) whether the EMT echo chambers at A&R Studios on Seventh Avenue were still the grandest in the land. Was the roast beef still rare, the corned beef lean, the skies still blue, the cab drivers loony - in short, did they remember us still on the Great White Way? Was it possible for food to taste other than it did at the Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Boulevard? Or was it too late for us to reclaim our rich cultural birthright as citizens of the Greater Metropolitan Area? The results of our inquiries were encouraging. Passages were booked, leaves taken, rhythm charts passed around, and the rest is musical history, of a sort (see enclosed CD).
Fast forward to mixdown, back in L.A. Comfortably configured in our customary listening positions at ABC Records Studio C, we find ourselves feeling all fat and sassy. Seretonin receptors sipping at a seemingly inexhaustible supply of whatever, we feel as though we are strolling down a realer-than-real virtual Broadway, past the City Squire and on into the groovingest Broadway nightclub you can ever imagine, with the bugaloo band of your dreams up on the stand wailing away. Instead of the usual make-mine-vanilla scrubbers, we find ourselves rocking out to the soul-stirring sounds of some fiercely funkadelic and deeply righteous Bernard Purdie grooves, Chuck Rainey bass lines, Paul Griffin piano riffs, and the like. Here comes a guitar solo - Larry Carlton, no problem there. Don Grolnick keyboard vamps so solid you could set your watch by them. Background vocals, blaring trumpets, wah wah guitar solos, ha-ha lyrics - it's all there. Our happiness at this particular point in time would be ultracomplete save for one thing - namely, we have not as yet found a cover shot for the album. None of our much-prized souvenirs of Springtime in the Big City - gold faucets from the St. Regis, Polaroids from the Metropole, sixpack of thick terry bathrobes with various hotel monograms, empty pack of Delicado Olivados, hecho en Mexico - our copious stash of colorful Big Apple swag leaves us still wanting for suitable thematic material pertaining to the desperately needed cover art. Luckily for us, we are in Los Angeles where, more than anywhere else in the known universe, bad taste abhors a vacuum, and before long we find ourselves staring into the maw of the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy A Thrill). Why are those buildings turning into reptilian horrors, or vice versa? What squalid back alley of the human condition is meant to be invoked by this contused nightmare palette? What manner of man - ill-shod, unshaven - dares sleep peacefully through this fearsome and repulsive protomorph?

(to be continued)

-Donald Fagen & Walter Becker, 1999


Kid Charlemagne 4:38
The Caves Of Altamira 3:33
Don't Take me Alive 4:19
Sign in Stranger 4:22
The Fez 3:59
Green Earrings 4:05
Haitian Divorce 5:50
Everything You Did 3:54
The Royal Scam 6:31

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Kid Charlemagne

While the music played
You worked by candlelight
Those San Fransisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed
The diamond with the pearl
You turned it on the world
That's when you turned the world around
Did you feel like Jesus
Did you realise
That you were a champion in their eyes

On the hill the stuff
Was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen clean
Everyone stopped to stare
At your technicolor motorhome
Every A-Frame had your
Number on the wall
You must have had it all
You'd go to LA on dare
And you'd go it alone
Could you live forever
Could you see the day
Could you feel your whole world
Fall apart and fade away

Get along
Get along Kid Charlemagne
Get along Kid Charlemagne

Now the patrons have all
Left you in the red
Your low rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those day-glow freaks
Who used to paint the face
They've joined the human race
Somethings will never change
Son you were mistaken
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men
On the street

[chorus]

Clean this mess up
Or we'll all end up in jail.
Those test-tubes and the scale
Just get them all out of here
Is there gas in the car
(Yes, there's gas in the car)
I think the people down the hall
Know who you are
Careful what you carry
'Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes.

[chorus]

Drums: Bernard Purdie
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Guitar: Larry Carlton
Keyboards: Don Grolnick, Paul Griffin
Backup Vocals: Donald Fagen, Michael

McDonald, Venetta Fields, Clydie King,
Sherlie Matthews


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Caves of Altamira

I recall, when I has small
How I spent my days alone
The busy world was not for me
So I went and found my own
I would climb the garden wall
With a candle in my hand
I'd hide inside a hall of rock and sand

On the stone in ancient hand
In a faded yellow-green
Made alive a worldly wonder
Often told but never seen
Now and ever bound to labor
On the sea and in the sky
Every man and beast appeared
A friend as real as I

[Chorus:]
Before the fall
When they wrote it on the wall
When there wasn't even any Hollywood
They heard the call
And they wrote it on the wall
For you and me we understood

Can it be this sad design
Could be the very same
A wooly man without a face
And a beast without a name
Nothing here but history
Can you see what has been done
Memory rush over me
Now I step into the sun

[Chorus]

[chorus]


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Don't Take Me Alive

Agents of the law
Luckless Pedestrian
I know you're out there
With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
Saying all is forgiven
Mad dog surrender
How can I answer
A man of my mind can do anything

I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't want to shoot no one
Well I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes, I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive

Can you hear the evil crowd
the lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world
Where no sun is shining
No red light flashing
Here in this darkness
I know what I've done
I know all at once who I am

[Chorus]

[solo]


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Sign in Stranger

Have you heard about the boom on Mizar-5
People got to shout to stay alive
They don't even have policeman one
Doesn't matter where you been or
                                           what you've done
Do you have a dark spot on your past
Leave it to my man he'll fix it fast
Pepe has a scar from ear to ear
He will make your mug shots disappear.

[Chorus:]
You zombie
Be born again my friend
Won't you sign in stranger

Do you like to take a yo-yo for a ride
Zombie I can see you're qualified
Walk around collecting Turkish Union dues
They will call you Sir and shine your shoes
Or maybe you would like to see the show
You'll enjoy the Cafe D'Escargot
Folks are in a line around the block
Just to see her do the conch-con-Jacques

[Chorus]

Love or leave her
Yellow fever sure
It's all in the game
And who are you
Just another scurvy brother

[piano solo]

[Chorus]


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The Fez
Written by Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and Paul Griffin

I'm never gonna do it
Without the fez on
Oh no
Don't make me do it
Without the fez on
Oh no

That's what I am
Please understand
I wanna be your holy man.


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Green Earrings

Cold
Daring
No
Flies on me
Sorry
Angel
I must take
What I see

[Chorus:]
Green earrings
I remember
The rings of rare design
I remember
The look in your eyes
I don't mind

Greek
Medallion
Sparkles
When you smile.
Sorry
Angel 
I get hungry
Like a child

[Chorus]

[solo]

[Chorus]

Drums: Bernard Purdie
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Lead guitar: Elliot Randall
Guitar: Larry Carlton
Rhodes piano: Don Grolnick

Clavinet: Paul Griffin
Synthesizer: Donald Fagen
Backup Vocals: Tim Schmit


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Haitian Divorce

Babs and Clean Willie were in love they said
So in love the preacher's face turned red
Soon everybody knew the thing was dead
He shouts
She bites
They wrangle through the night
She go crazy
Got to make a getaway
Papa say

[Chorus:]
O
No hesitation
No tears and no hearts breaking
No remorse
O
Congratulations
This is your
Haitian Divorce

She takes the taxi to the good hotel
Bon marché as far as she can tell
She drinks the zombie from the cocoa shell
She feels
Alright
She get it on tonight
Mister driver
Take me where the music play
Papa say

[Chorus]

At the Grotto
In the greasy chair
Sits the Charlie with the lotion
And the kinky hair
When she smiled she said it all
The band was hot so
They danced the famous merango
Now we dolly back
Now we fade to black

[solo]

Tearful reunion in the USA
Day by day those memories fade away
Some babies grow in a peculiar way
It changed
it grew
And everybody knew
Semi-mojo
Who's this kinky so-and-so
Papa go

[Chorus]


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Everything You Did

Where did the Bastard run
Is he still around
Now you gotta tell me everything
You did baby
I'm gonna get a gun
Shoot the lover down
Are you gonna tell me ev'rything
You did baby
Traces are everywhere
In our happy home
Now you better tell me everything
You did baby
I jumped out of my easy chair
It was not my own
Now I wanna hear about everything

I never knew you
You were a roller skater
You gonna show me later
Turn up the Eagles
The neighbors are listening.

You know how people talk
I wonder what they say
I think you better tell me everything
You did baby

[solo]

[chorus]

You never came to me
When you were so inclined
Yes you could have told me everything
You did baby
I know where baby's at
I know your filthy mind
Now you're gonna do me everything
You did baby
You did baby


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The Royal Scam

And they wandered in from the city
Of St. John without a dime
Wearing coats that shined both red and green
Colors from their sunny island
From their boats of iron they looked upon
The promised land where surely life was sweet
On the rising tide to New York City
Did they ride into the street

[Chorus:]
See the glory
(See the glory of)
Of the royal scam

They are hounded down to the bottom
Of a bad town amid the ruins
Where they learn to fear an angry race
Of fallen kings their dark companions
While the memory of their southern sky
Was clouded by a savage winter
Every patron saint hung on the wall
Shared the room with twenty sinners

[Chorus]

By the blackened wall he does it all
He thinks he's died and gone to heaven
Now the tale is told by the old man
Back home he reads the letter
How they are paid in gold just to babble
In the back room all night and waste the time
And they wandered in from the city
Of St. John without a dime

[Chorus]

[Chorus]


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The Midi-sequense , on this page is The Fez.


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