I was able to listen to “Gaucho” tonight, the last of the Steely Dan albums during their primary run in the ‘70s to early ‘80s. There are a lot of moments of greatness to it, although in total, there are other albums of theirs I like better. I also enjoyed sharing it with my son, who along with his friends Phil and Ivan, have embraced Steely Dan in a way similar to when my friend Mike and I did, many years before.
I think the most remarkable element of this album, aside from the first two phenomenal songs, is the number of legendary musicians who appeared somewhere on this album. Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Rick Derringer, Mark Knopfler, Chuck Rainey, Jeff Porcaro, Bernard Purdie, Valerie Simpson, and of course, Michael McDonald, are among the 42 musicians credited on this album. The clarity of sound and quality of production is remarkable as always.
The first two songs are legendary. The album opens with “Babylon Sisters”, with Purdie and his precise shuffle back in the mix. The groove of this song is nearly unmatched, it is such a great tune. It is followed by “Hey Nineteen”, which was one of the two songs Mike and I connected on above all others in their catalog. Aside from another great vibe, it is an entertaining story of a guy who is dating someone way too young, and they just can’t connect. The evening is seemingly rescued by the “Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian”, and regardless of the exact recipe, we can all relate to an evening filled with a warm glow and perfect music. Life is best shared with someone who has seen the world through the same lens you have, and I’m blessed to have that in my life today.
The rest of the album is all remarkably well played and delivered, but I will say that some of the songs don’t capture my ear the same way as most of their earlier songs do. Of the other tracks, I would rate the title track and “My Rival” as the best. Don’t get me wrong, it is all very easy and enjoyable to listen to, but I don’t think the rest of the album quite holds up to the magic of the first two songs.
I love my original history with Steely Dan, and it is awesome to experience a renaissance of their music through the next generation of music lovers. They were and are a one-of-a-kind act that really has no parallel, and I will always appreciate the top-notch results and entertaining storytelling that comes with each Steely Dan release.