Can't Buy A Thrill

The Can't Buy A Thrill Album

Format Label Number
LP ABC ABC 758
LP ABC Command CQD-40009
LP MCA MCA-1591
CS MCA MCAC-1591
CD MCA MCAD-37214
CD* MCA MCAD-11886

 

* 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

MCAD-11886



Original Liner Notes:

It has been said many times and in many ways that what the world needs is another rock and roll band. This could very well be the one of which the pundits spoke.
The crisp exacting music of Steely Dan has been a long time coming, although the group itself was formed only a short time before this inspired recording was made. The DAN consists of six parts: composers Becker and Fagen performing on electric bass guitar and keyboards respectively; Jim Hodder, percussionist; bronze god of the pulse rhythm section; guitarists Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Denny Dias; and vocalist David Palmer. For the past ten years or so each of these fellows has been pursuing his own private destiny within the confines of the "pop music jungle." Their varied apprentiships include stints with infamous groups from past decades and more recent sorties such as the short-lived but illustrious "Ultimate Spinach." As is so rarely the case, the whole of Steely Dan is greater than the sum of its parts, and the newly formed amalgam threatens to undermine the foundations of the rock power elite.
The selections on this first album tend to run the gamut of musical expression from the pastoral lyricism of "Dirty Work" to the urban "Sturm and Drang" of "Do It Again". From the vacuous historical romance of "Kings" to the modern-as-tomorrow angularity of "Fire In The Hole." From the east coast cynicism of "Only A Fool Would Say That" to the sun-struck L.A. optimism of "Change Of The Guard". From the frank, industrial-grade polish of "Midnight Cruiser" to the rhapsodic "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again." And so on.
The superlatives commonly found in liner notes are often as empty as the music they applaud. This is not the case on your new Steely Dan album. For example hear the raw urgency of Jeff "Skunk" Baxter's solo on "Change Of The Guard" and savor his tasteful utilization of the spinal vibrato. Or hear how he displays the cunning of the insane on steel guitar in "Fire In The Hole". Can you believe visiting guitarist Elliot Randall's exultant chromaticism on "Kings"? Or David Palmer's bitter- sweet rendering of "Dirty Work"? Or drummer Hodder's driving beat throughout?
And there's more. Tradition and experimentation reign side by side when Denny Dias accepts the burden of resurrecting the electric sitar on "Do It Again" and makes it sound easy. On the same cut an inexpensive, imported plastic organ (an instrument which long ago fell into disuse in most rock circles) is competently fingered by Donald Fagen. And dig those startling high register bass effects on the final cadence of "Heartbeat"!
Thus treads heavily the titantic of Steely Dan, casting a long shadow upon the contemporary rock wasteland aspiring to spill its seeds on barren ground, and at the same time, struggling to make sense out of the flotsam and jetsam of its electric musical heritage. With a solid first album under its belt, and with an ever expanding reputation as a dynamic performing group, it would appear that the Dan's place on the American musical scene is assured.

Dan Steele. Outre' Daniel, Steely Dan. It's growing.



A    F A R E W E L L   T O   F L A T B U S H

"Hebbel, in a surprising entry in his diary, asks what takes away 'life's magic in later years. It is because, in all the brightly colored contored marionettes, we see the revolving cylinder that sets them in motion and, because for this very reason, a captivating variety of life is reduced to wooden monotony.'"
So says Ted Adamo, and in spite of the indisputable veracity of this dire pronouncement, or perhaps because of it, neither one of us is able to remember exactly what we were doing when the long-awaited phone call from Los Angeles finally came.

gap.gif (816 bytes)DF: Who  did he call first?
gap.gif (816 bytes)gap.gif (816 bytes)You or me?
gap.gif (816 bytes)WB: You mean Gary?
gap.gif (816 bytes)DF: Who else?
gap.gif (816 bytes)WB:Maybe we were together gap.gif (816 bytes)gap.gif (816 bytes)when the call came...
gap.gif (816 bytes)DF: Working on a song?
gap.gif (816 bytes)WB: Possible.

So, as it happened, we were working on a song when we got the call from California...

Now that the album "Can't Buy A Thrill" is finally being released in its original glorious packaging, complete with all notes, texts, photos, illustrations, etc., appropriately miniaturized for the digital medium of the day, we would like to avail ourselves of this opportunity to set the "record" straight on a few important points:

1. The original members of the band were Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Realizing that this ensemble was a bit thin, it was decided to import to Los Angeles a few musicians of our acquaintance. Our producer Gary Katz suggested Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, whom we had actually met and played with back in New York, and Jim Hodder, whom we had not met but only seen at a recording session, through the glass, darkly. Jeff's credentials included a brief stint with a Boston band called "Ultimate Spinach," altough, to his credit, he was not an original member of that outfit. Hodder hailed from Long Island and he was a surviving member of a Katz-produced band called "The Bead Game," named for the illustrious but unreadable Hesse novel. Once these two potent talents had been added to the mix,

the ensemble was still found wanting in several areas. So the call went out to Hicksville, Long Island, and jazz guitarist Denny Dias was brought into the picture. Hicksville's loss was Steely Dan's gain, and for the next several months we thought we had verything we needed. More on this point, later.

2. As for material, we had touched down in California witha fat notebook crammed with what we called "the dyno". It was our opinion that this collection of songs, our life's work to date, would morph effortlessly into classic albums, swank long-running careers, juicy bank accounts, houses with swimming pools, powerful mid-engine sports cars, happiness, security, girls, girls, girls, in short, everything we needed to get by. In fact, it turned out later that only half the songs on the first Steely Dan album were already in the book; the rest were written in California, in a style which had been adjusted and refined to take into account the new musical environment in which we found ourselves operating and also to reflect our belated understanding of the aesthetic shortcomings of some of our less-than-accessible, more doggedly surrealist efforts.

3. Our producer Gary Katz had preceded us in the move from New York to Encino. He had leased a nice Buick for himself on Dunhill's dime - tobacco brown, same model that Kojak drove on TV. Neither of us had cars or drivers licenses at that time. So we drove to work with Gary in the morning, and back with him at night. It was during these drives that we became acquainted with the following record business concepts: "a buck-three-eighty," "keppelectomy," "picking up the option," "pick and roll," "Harvey you're fired," "I got a guy," "breaking out in England," "power rotation," "mo' kick, mo' hat," "show business heaven."

4. Jeff Baxter had a theory that one of the secretaries at the ABC offices had several sets of interchangeable breasts which she would alternate wearing from day to day. This turned out to be incorrect.

5. During our visits to the small recording studio adjoining the Dunhill offices, we were surprised and frightened to see a fellow dressed in an American flag shirt and matching pants working behind the console

from time to time. Later we found out that he drove a small yellow Lotus sports car which he referred to as "Screaming Yellow Zonker." He turned out to be Engineer Roger Nichols.

6. We had this kind of cozy idea, which went something like this: our "dyno," once polished to a high luster, would be recorded by ourselves and our shiny new bandmates. When the album was released, it would be a runaway hit, thus insuring us unlimited funding for future albums. The royalties would flow directly into our checking accounts, with no deductions or delays. All of this would take place without it becoming necessary for us to leave Los Angeles, where we could lead our modest but comfy lifestyles indefinitely. As it turned out, our career template was modeled on the likes of stay-at-home studio moles like Enoch Nordine (of "Word Jazz" fame) and, more recently, The Beatles. So, when certain executives at ABC started pestering us about "the tour" - we were already halfway through with the recording of the first album - it came as a surprise to us that we were now expected to go out and perform in public. The surprise was not a good surprise, especially for Donald, who had reluctantly agreed to be the band's lead vocalist for the purposes of recording but who was essentially terrified of singing in public and thus somewhat reluctant to be pressed into service as the frontman for a touring rock band. That's when the Skunk called his chum David Palmer, and Dave came out from New Jersey to try out for the job. Luckily, the tracks for "Dirty Work" and "Brooklyn" were in his key, more or less.

7. We had worked with guitarist Elliot Randall in New York City. Elliot was a big-time studio cat at that time, as far as we could tell. We were planning on having spectacular guitar solos on a few of our tunes, so it was natural for us to ask Elliot to fall by when we found out he was in town. He did pretty well on the solos,so we asked him to join the band, even though we already had two or three guitarists. He demured. Other people who turned us down: Joe Gordon, Loudon Wainright III, some blue-eyed soul dude that Gary brought by one time, Rick Derringer, Chevy Chase, maybe Nils Lofgren, and Janice Baker (a couple of times).

8. When we first met Denny out in Hicksville, he was playing a Gibson Barney Kessel hollowbody guitar through a Kustom amplifier. The guitar was a sunburst with double neovenetian cutaways, an offense to the eyes and the ears alike. We prevailed upon him to find something a bit more, um, modern sounding and he ended up trading in the Kessel for a Dan Armstrong guitar with a clear plexiglas body. This was okay for a while but by the time Denny came out to California we were hankering, on Denny's behalf, for another sonic upgrade. So Denny went down to Sound City, where Jeff Baxter was then employed as a guitar repairman, and picked himself out a nice Fender Telecaster with a rosewood neck. Fitted with the appropriate humbuckers in neck and bridge position and amplified by a beefy Marshall 100 watt amp head and short stack cabinet, Denny was ready to rock. But we were still not satisfied, and so for the occasion of Denny's solo on "Do It Again" we hired in a Coral Electric Sitar. This novel instrument, replete with dual lipstick tube pickups and sympathetic strings and a special bridge that produced the sitar-like buzzing sound, added that extra something that the tune called for. Similarly, Donald rented for himself a strange Yamaha organ that had, amongst other things, a felt strip for producing glisses that were heretofore unheard of ona keyboard instrument.

9. Because of our current situation (Italian restaurant), we are unable to audition the "CAN'T BUY A THRILL" album at this time. However, we do seem to recall a few highlights, which include: "Do It Again," a top ten hit nationally, begun in Encino, finished in our ABC Dunhill writing dungeon. To say that the lyrics somehow emblematize the desperate career gamble on which we were embarking, to say that would be a bit precious; let the latter day listener draw his own conclusions. But it most definitely solidified what became a long and satisfying collaboration with percussionist /vibist/ pianist Victor Feldman. The aforementioned Elliot Randall solo on "Reeling in the Years," also a huge hit, that was a helluva thing, wasn't it? And, last but not least, the Veal Bird Special at Dolores' Restaurant, a regular Thursday night favorite for the gang in Village Recorder's Studio A.    (to be continued)
-DONALD FAGEN & WALTER BECKER 1998

Can't Buy A Thrill

JEFF "SKUNK" BAXTER: Guitar, pedal steel guitar, Spanish
WALTER BECKER: Electric bass guitar, vocals
DENNY DIAS: Guitar, electric sitar
DONALD FAGEN: Piano, electric piano, plastic organ, vocals
JIM HODDER: Drums, percussion, vocals
DAVID PALMER: Vocals

WITH: ELLIOT RANDALL: Guitar VICTOR FELDMAN: Percussion
JEROME RICHARDSON: Tenor sax SNOOKY YOUNG: Fluegel horn
CILYDIE KING, SHIRLEY MATHEWS, VENETTA FIELDS: Bakground vocals on Brooklyn and Kings

Produced by GARY KATZ

Recorded at The Village Recorder,Los Angeles, California
Engineered by Roger Nichols (The Immortal)
Asst. Engineer: Tim Weston (The Stafford boy)
Original Cover design by Robert Lockart

*Reissue Produced by Walter Becker & Donald Fagen
Remastering Engineer: Roger Nichols
Remastered at Riversound Studios, New York
Art Direction: Vartan
Reissue Design: Red Herring Design/NYC


All Songs by Becker and Fagen

Track List

Do It Again
Dirty Work
Kings
Midnite Cruiser
Only A Fool Would Say That
Reelin' In The Years
Fire In The Hole
Brooklyn
Change Of The Guard
Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

 


sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Do It Again

In the mornin' you go gunnin'
For the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in
But they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all singin'
As they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn't hangin'
And they put you on the street

[Chorus:]
You go back, Jack, do it again,
Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back, Jack, do it again

When you know she's no high climber
Then you find your only friend
In a room with your two timer
And you're sure you're near the end
Then you love a little wild one
And she brings you only sorrow
All the time you know she's smilin'
You'll be on your knees tomorrow

[Chorus]

[Guitar Solo]

[Keyboard Solo]

Now you swear and kick and beg us
That you're not a gambling man
Then you find you're back in Vegas
With a handle in your hand
Your black cards can make you money
So you hide them when you're able
In the land of milk and honey
You must put them on the table

[Chorus]

Drums: Jim Hodder
Bass: Walter Becker
Guitar: Jeff Baxter, Denny Dias ( solo)

Sitar (electric): Denny Dias
Keyboards: Donald Fagen

Percussion: Victor Feldman


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Dirty Work

Times are hard
You're afraid to pay the fee
So you find yourself somebody
Who can do the job for free
When you need a bit of lovin'
Cause your man is out of town
That's the time you get me runnin'
And you know I'll be around

[Chorus:]
I'm a fool to do your dirty work oh yeah
I don't wanna do your dirty work no more
I'm a fool to do your dirty work oh yeah

Light the candle
Put the lock upon the door
You have sent the maid home early
Like a thousand times before
Like the castle in his corner
In a medieval game
I foresee terrible trouble
And I stay here just the same

[Chorus]

[Sax Solo]

[Chorus]


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Kings

Now they lay his body down
Sad old man who run this town
I still recall the way
he led the charge and saved the day
Blue blood and rain
I can hear the bugle playin'

[Chorus:]
We've seen the last of good King Richard
Ring out the past, his name lives on and on
Roll out the bones and raise up
  your pitcher
Raise up your glass to good King John

While he plundered far and wide
All his starving children cried
And though we sung his fame
We all went hungry just the same
He meant to shine
To the end of line

[Chorus]

Raise up your glass to good King John
Raise up your glass to good King John


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Midnite Cruiser

Felonius my old friend
Step on in and let me shake your hand
So glad that you're here again
For one more time
Let your madness run with mine
Streets still unseen we'll find somehow
No time is better than now

[Chorus:]
Tell me where are driving
Midnite cruiser
Where is your bounty
Of fortune and fame
I am another
Gentleman loser
Drive me to Harlen
Or somewhere the same

[Solo]

The world that we used to know
People tell me it don't turn no more
The places we used to go
Familiar faces that aint smilin'
Like before
The time of our time has come and gone
I fear we've been waitin' too long

[Chorus]

[Solo]

[Chorus]


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Only A Fool Would Say That

A world become one
Of salads and sun,
Only a fool would say that
A boy with a plan
A natural man
Wearing a white stetson hat
Unhand that gun begone
There's no one to fire upon
If he's holding it high
He's telling a lie

[Chorus:]
I heard it was you
Talkin' 'bout a world
Where all is free
It just couldn't be
And only a fool would say that

The man in the street
Draggin' his feet
Don't wanna hear the bad news
Imagine your face
There in his place
Standing inside his brown shoes
You do his nine to five
Drag yourself home half alive
And there on the screen
A man with a dream

[Chorus]

Anybody on the street
Has murder in his eyes
You feel no pain
And you're younger
Than you realize

[Chorus]


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Reelin' In The Years

Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
You wouldn't know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand

[Chorus:]
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years,
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

You've been tellin' me you're a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I've known you
I still don't know what you mean
The weekend at the college
Didn't turn out like you planned
The things that pass for knowledge
I can't understand

[Chorus]
[Solo]

I spent a lot of money
And I spent a lot of time
The trip we made to Hollywood
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things we've
Done and seen
You find another man
The things you think are useless
I can't understand

[Chorus]
[Solo]

Drums: Jim Hodder
Bass: Walter Becker
Guitar: Denny Dias, Jeff Baxter,

Elliot Randall (solo)
Piano: Donald Fagen

Backup Vocals: Donald Fagen, David Palmer


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Fire In The Hole

I decline
To walk the line
They tell me that I'm lazy
Worldly wise
I realize
That everybody's crazy
A woman's voice reminds me
To serve and not to speak
Am I myself or just another freak

[Chorus:]
Don't you know
There's fire in the hole
And nothing left to burn
I'd love to run out now
There's nowhere left to turn

With a cough
I shake it off
And work around my yellow stripe
Should I hide
And eat my pride
Or wait until it's good and ripe
My life is boiling over
It's happened once before
I wish someone would open up the door

[Chorus]

[Solo]

[Chorus]


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Brooklyn

A race of angels
Bound with one another
A dish of dollars
Laid out for all to see
A tower room at Eden Rock,
His golf at noon for free
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me

His lady's aching
To bring a body down
She daily preaches
On where she wants to be
An evening with a movie queen,
A face we all have seen
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me


[Solo]

A case of aces
Done up loose for dealing
A piece of island cooling in the sea
The whole of time we gain or lose,
And power enough to choose
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me
Brooklyn owes the charmer
Under me


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Change of The Guard

If you listen you can hear it
It's the laughter in the street
It's the motion in the music
And the fire beneath your feet
All the signs are right this time
You don't have to try so very hard
If you live in this world,
You're feelin' the change of the guard

All you cowboys and your neighbors
Can you swallow up your pride
Take your guns off if you're willin'
And you know we're on your side
If you wanna get thru the years
It's high time you played your card
If you live in this world,
You're feelin' the change of the guard


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

 

sheettop.gif (2324 bytes)

Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

With stocking face I bought a gun
The plan was set, the plan was done
Looked at my watch and started for
  the door,
Now the food here ain't so good no more
And they closed the package store

[Chorus:]
Love your mama, love your brother
Love 'em 'til they run for cover
Turn the light off, keep your shirt on
Cry a jag on me.

Oh Michael, oh, Jesus, you know I'm not
  to blame
You know my reputation for playing
  a good clean game
Oh Michael, oh, Jesus, I'll keep my
  promise when
You turn that heartbeat over again

My poison's name, you know my brand
So please make mine a double, Sam
Stir it up nice, I'll eat it right here
Yeah, this highway runs from Paraguay
And I've just come all the way

[Chorus]

[Chorus]

We warned the corpse of William Wright
Not to cuss and drink all night
Ticket in hand, we saw him laid to rest
Oh, but zombie see and zombie do
He's here with me and you

[Chorus]


sheetbotm.gif (2340 bytes)

The Midi-sequense , on this page is Do It Again.


Navigation Bar
This page was produced without commercial intentions of any kind. If you, kind reader, feels that you find something that is offending or violating any persons or applicable laws please E-mail me. All mentioned products and company names are™ or ® trademarks of their respective owners. Please read the disclaimer.
Revision of 30 January 2013 - A Lost Wages Production..
Hit Counter
Webmaster