Steely Dan 2015 Tour Kickoff – 10 Live Rarities We Hope To Hear

Although the two leaders of Steely Dan – Donald Fagen and Walter Becker – are grouchy New Yorkers as they approach their 70’s, their songbook still stands up as some of the most original and funky music ever laid to tape. Steely Dan have never been directly derived from any other artist, and instead they have laid the groundwork for R&B artists and the recent Daft Punk album , so saying Steely Dan is uncool is somehow just plain lazy.

With Steely Dan kicking off their 2015 Rockabye Gollie Angle Tour Tuesday night 4/7/15 in Santa Rosa, CA along with the the first of two oddball appearances at the Coachella Festival much to Donald Fagen’s dismay, plenty of us fans have had the privilege of seeing Fagen and his Becker in one of their many incarnations since returning to the stage in 1993 following a lengthy hiatus in the 80s. Sure, each show your going to get your “Peg,” “Josie” “Hey Nineteen,” My Old School” and “Kid Charlemagne” – all classic and worthwhile compositions  – but what about the seldom played songs in the rotation? Irritable Fagen might not be jumping at the chance to dust off “Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)”, but we fans want to hear some of the band’s other classics that rarely make it on a setlist. In celebration of their oddly named Goodbye Rockabye Gollie Angel Tour – and in hopes that maybe they’ll see this article – we chose ten original songs played 25 times or less in their history. You won’t find any Fagen or Becker solo material in this list – just straight up Steely Dan

“Wetside Story”

“Wetside Story” was one of the first new compositions played by the band live after they regrouped in 1993 and this stellar track was played five times during their 1996 summer tour. The track has all the notches that make it a classic Dan tune; a heavy Fender Rhodes intro (ala “Pretzel Logic”), sultry backup vocals, and an unlucky in love lyrical theme.

Total Times Played – 4

Last Time Played – 7/26/96

“King of the World”

“King of the World” is one of the strongest songs on their second album Countdown to Ecstasy and is perhaps the strongest example of their earlier (pre-perfectionist era) material that can still sound slick amongst the Aja and Goucho material. Always innovators with different keyboards in the rock setting (check Fagens keytar live on “Time Out of Mind”), the Moog plays a key part in a narrative role that spells a futuristic groove and lays the foundation all the way to its spacey outro.

Total Times Played  – 12

Last Time Played -8/24/13

“Jack of Speed”

This track off 2000’s comeback Two Against Nature album has a relentless groove with a killer horn intro, and if it were off Aja would probably be played more today since fans often knock the new stuff. Along with the knock-you-dead horn intro, Fagen sneaks in his lyrics in only his best narrative draw as he summons – “Teddy’s rolling now most every night/Skatin’ backwards at the speed of light/He’s changed – in a thousand little ways/He’s changed – yes indeed.”

Total Times Played – 23

Last Time Played – 9/17/11

“Dr. Wu”

Carrying a similar 70s melancholy vibe to favorites like “Aja” and “Haitian Divorce,” “Dr. Wu” off 1975’s Katy Lied was eerily romantic with a haunting sax solo that is true Steely Dan. Maybe this song sounds a bit too similar to other Dan classics, which answers the question as to why this gorgeous composition hasn’t been dropped more often live.

Total Times Played – 6

Last Time Played – 9/17/11

“Here at the Western World”

This deep cut was part of the sessions that produced 1976’s The Royal Scam but never made the album, and instead was only available on the band’s 1978 Greatest Hits compilation. Although the tune never found a true album home, it remains one of the strongest and most delicate songs in the Steely Dan repertoire. Again the passionate and sultry backup vocals lay a key foundation for this song that glides effortlessly along Fagen’s slightly sarcastic lyrics that remain, as always, purely indulgent.

Total Times Played – 3

Last Time Played – 6/13/09

“Any Major Dude Will Tell You”

Hard to believe Wilco of all bands covered this one for 2000’s Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack, so obviously this song from 1974’s Pretzel Logic has touched a few. One of the more turn-your-frown-upside-down songs, this almost folksy jam is one of their coziest, even when Fagen sings “When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won’t be there no more, any Major Dude will tell you.”

Total Times Played– 16

Last Time Played – 9/28/11

“Pearl of the Quarter”

This classic Countdown to Ecstasy track is easily forgotten with its slow building ballad structure that shows little evidence of steel Dan’s more sophisticated grooves. As Fagen once described, “it’s a ballad we used to do but stopped after awhile and we started doing it and it sounded pretty good.” If the name didn’t already give it away, the song is about whores in New Orleans, but in terms of really slow and nostalgic numbers in the catalog this one deserves to be heard live more often.

Total Times Played – 4

Last Time Played
– 9/26/14

“Any World (That I’m Welcome To)”

Obviously, the studio version will be tough to match with Michael McDonald laying his trademark backup vocals and session drummer extraordinaire Hal Blaine laying the backbeat. Aside from the all-star assistance, this Katy Lied second sider is equally nostalgic and sophisticated, and still sounds just as powerful today despite being played live only once. In our technically advanced world of today, the song is probably never more profound for modern outsiders as the lyrics open with, “If I had my way/I would move to another lifetime/I’d quit my job, ride the train/through the misty nighttime.”

Total Times Played – 1

Last Time Played – 6/24/06


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“Night By Night”

Of all songs with most live potential to wow a crowd, this rock number has wings to fly funky high with its horn lines and down and dirty groove. What many consider to be the strongest cut off Pretzel Logic, and the first in the catalog to go all out funk, “Night by Night” features Jeff Baxter’s stroke of genius guitar solo and spot-on drumming from the late Jeff Porcarco. Steely Dan’s current touring band is equally top notch, and this classic would make for a perfect mid-set game changer.

Total Times Played – 20

Last Time Played – 9/14/11

“My Rival”

A song that really sounds like nothing else in the Dan songbook, “My Rival” is often overlooked on the Gaucho album, which shines with more immediate and catchy songs like “Hey 19” and “Time Out of My Mind.” The first 30 seconds of “My Rival” rival anything for perfection in the catalog and we can only imagine how much fun the band would have with this one if it had more stage time.

Total Times Played – 7

Last Time Played – 10/4/2013

Editor’s Note: Song totals and stats taken from Setlist.fm

 

Check out the complete list of tour dates below. For information on ticketing and sales dates, visit Steely Dan’s official site.

Steely Dan Rockabye Gollie Angel Tour:
4/07 – Santa Rosa, CA
4/08 – Santa Rosa, CA
4/10 – Indio, CA
4/11 – Las Vegas, NV
4/14 – Paso Robles, CA
4/15 – Santa Barbara, CA
4/17 – Indio, CA
4/18 – San Diego, CA

7/6 – Morrison, CO
7/9 – Auburn, WA
7/11 – Mountain View, CA
7/13 – Los Angeles, CA
7/15 – Albuquerque, NM
7/17 – Austin, TX
7/18 – Houston, TX
7/19 – Dallas, TX
7/22 – St. Louis, MO
7/24-25 – Highland Park, IL
7/27 – Clarkston, MI
7/28 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH
7/30-31 – Boston, MA
8/1 – Holmdel, NJ
8/3 – Camden, NJ
8/5 – Bristow, VA
8/6 – Raleigh, NC
8/8 – Nashville, TN
8/9 – Atlanta, GA
8/11 – Tampa, FL
8/12 – West Palm Beach, FL

 


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One thought on “Steely Dan 2015 Tour Kickoff – 10 Live Rarities We Hope To Hear

  1. Mr. LaPage Reply

    As a diehard Dan fan, I am proud to say I have seen 6 of your 10 songs live, including Doctor Wu, Major Dude and Pearl of the Quarter. Western World remains a bucket list song. Having seen them play the entire Aja and Royal Scam albums helps knock songs off the list, but very proud to have caught every one of the Countdown to Ecstasy songs in various shows since 1993, including King of the World a few years ago.

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