Album #290 – Countdown to Ecstasy
Steely Dan is represented very well on this list. ALL of their studio albums, up to Aja, are on the list. I cannot think of another artist or band that has that many albums on it. Why? Because those albums are just that good!!! Countdown to Ecstasy is their second album and the first to really implement the jazz rock sound that Steely Dan would become famous for. It is the only Steely Dan album that I physically own (on vinyl) and after listening to Countdown to Ecstasy for the first time, I am so glad I own it. This album is better in many ways than Can’t Buy A Thrill because the lyrics are more Steely Dan-ish and the album has a focused musical direction. Because of this shift in musical direction, Countdown to Ecstasy had no top 40 singles and did not do well on the album chart (Peaking at #35). My Old School (one of my favorite Steely Dan songs) and Show Biz Kids were released as singles and both ended up peaking at 63 and 61 on the Billboard Hot 100. They would return to singles chart success with their next album, Pretzel Logic. But despite this lack of chart success, the album is amazing. One element that they do not remove from their sound just yet is the pedal steel guitar, played amazingly by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. It adds a nice touch to the jazz rock sound that Fagan and Becker were going back to. This is also the first Steely Dan album to have soulful backing vocals dominate. This would also become their musical trademark. I really enjoyed this album and I look forward to listening to more Steely Dan in the weeks and months ahead. Other highlights include: Bodhisattva, Razor Boy, The Boston Rag and Pearl of the Quarter. Overall, I give this album 5 out of 5.
Next: Honky Tonk Heroes by Waylon Jennings