Album #504 – The Nightfly

Album #504

The Nightfly is Donald Fagen’s first solo album. It is very similar sounding to the things he did with Steely Dan; particularly their 1980 album Gaucho, which mixes jazz rock with synths. This is due to the fact that long time Steely Dan producer, Gary Katz, produced this album too. The album’s subject matter is much more personal with Fagen writing about his experiences as a child in New York in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Fagen even covers a song from that period on this album: Leiber and Stoller’s Ruby Baby. The Nightfly also has it’s share of session musicians just like any other Steely Dan release. The Brecker Brothers, Larry Carlton, Rob Mounsey, Michael Omartian, Greg Phillinganes, Jeff Porcaro, Paul Shaffer, Steve Jordan, Chuck Rainey and Will Lee all play on the album. The sound is very much 80’s smooth jazz but with pop undertones. Fagen shows all aspects of his childhood including his desire to be an all night jazz DJ on WJAZ in the title track. The songs are well written and less ironic than Fagen’s songs from Steely Dan. The sound is crisp and clear. Many sound engineers use the album to test their systems. More than anything, Fagen’s solo debut is smooth and shows that even by himself, he is certainly as good. Other highlights include: I.G.Y.,  Green Flower Street, Maxine, New Frontier and Walk Between Raindrops. Overall, I give The Nightfly, 5 out of 5.

Next: Pelican West by Haircut One Hundred

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