Album #322 – Pretzel Logic

Album #322

Steely Dan hit it out of the park once again with Pretzel Logic. Their third album differs from it’s predecessor, Countdown To Ecstasy  in that the songs are much shorter and more accessible. One thing I love about Steely Dan is their sense of humor. Some of the album covers for their albums have an ironic or humorous connection to the title of the album. A great example of this is the cover you see above you. It’s a picture of a pretzel stand in Central Park complete with signs and the seller. It did not click in my mind what was on the front cover until I listened to this album. The humor is also found in the lyrics of the songs on this album. Becker and Fagen were not afraid to inject hilarious and ironic content into their songs. But, many missed this and sadly the humor and hilarity goes unnoticed. Pretzel Logic is also the final album to feature the original and proper line-up of Steely Dan. After this album, Becker and Fagen would remain and use multiple session musicians for each subsequent album. They were already starting to do this on Pretzel Logic. This album features a whose who of 1970’s session musicians including Bassist Chuck Rainey, Michael Omartian, Jim Gordon, Jeff Porcaro and David Paich. But, original members Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Denny Dias are still included on several of this album’s tracks. Most of all though, Pretzel Logic contained a single that returned Steely Dan to the charts. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number is a classic example of the Steely Dan sound: laid back jazz rock with Yacht Rock overtones. Of course, this is before Becker and Fagen would use Michael McDonald as a backing vocalist. The song brings to mind one hilarious scene from the film, Say Anything. John Mahoney (most famous for playing Frasier’s Dad) is driving in his car to work and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number comes on the radio. Mahoney starts singing along and really gets into it, although, it makes him look silly in the process. Whenever I hear that song now, I laugh a little because of Mahoney’s unexpected performance. The rest of this album is equally as accessible as it’s biggest hit, which went to number four on the Billboard Charts. Any Major Dude Will Tell You is another favorite that should have been released as a single. Overall, I enjoyed Pretzel Logic better than Countdown to Ecstasy because of it’s shorter songs and better accessibility. I am slightly disappointed that the list skips over the following Steely Dan albums: Katy Lied and The Royal Scam. Both are equally good albums and should have been on the list. Oh well. What do I know anyway? Other highlights include: Barrytown, a great Jazz Rock version of Duke Ellington’s East St. Louis Toodle-Do, Parker’s Band, the title track and With A Gun. Overall, I give Pretzel Logic 4.5 out of 5.

Next: Good Old Boys by Randy Newman

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