Monday, March 5, 2012

countdown to ecstasy

what it is: steely dan's countdown to ecstasy LP
where i found it: a thrift store dollar bin

There a some albums that really seize your brain and heart at the same time. I tend to get obsessed when I'm lucky enough to encounter them, listening to them over and over again until they even invade my dreams. A few of these over the years have included Judas Priest's Sin After Sin, Dissection's Storm of the Light's Bane, the Melvins' Lysol, Fugazi's Repeater and Ray Price's Greatest Hits. Also in this category is Steely Dan's Countdown to Ecstasy. This one lasted longer than most and caused me to go on a subsequent rampage through the rest of their somewhat soul-less, critically acclaimed, smooth adult music, "yacht rock" catalogue. This was difficult for both me and my wife, who kept asking why I wanted to listen to music so devoid of any tension. Good question.

At any rate, here's a little free associative commentary on Side A:

We start off side A with Bodhisattva, a number that’s a little too jaunty for me, but it does include some lightning speed boogie guitar.  They also say the word “Bodhisattva” too many times.

With Razor Boy they make up for the above sins with incredibly obtuse lyrics and haunting, intricate pedal steel/marimba interplay.  I guess only women in cages can stand this kind of night”. Huh?

Next up we have the Boston Rag, the one that gets stuck in my head the most. An elusively dark groove with an unbelievable breakdown complete with spooky guitar knob volume swells.

Gold Teeth. Full of angular, devastating piano whirlwinds that somehow the guitarist is able to get on board with. Generally like lurking, sinister smooth jazz. And more cryptic lyrics:

You fasten up your beaded gown, then you try to tie me down

Tobacco they grow in Peking, in the year of the locust you’ll see a sad thing

There ain’t nothing in Chicago for a monkey woman to do

And there we have an exemplary album side.