Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Re-listening 40+ Years Later: Countdown to Ecstasy

The replies to this recent @baddantakes tweet showed a lot of love for a Steely Dan album I had somehow never really taken to, “Countdown to Ecstasy”, so I decided I should re-listen to it on Spotify while out walking one day last week. 

Here’s the cover art. Somewhat unappealing visually, but let’s push past that. Contrast, guys, contrast!

Turns out, there are some killer tunes on it that I had dismissed back in 1978-9 when I bought it originally, on vinyl.

On my re-listen adventure the first song I chose — for what reason I do not know — was the last tune on the album, “King of the World”. It’s amazing, especially the guitar fills throughout and instrumental breaks at 2:00 and 3:45.

Just “wow”. That is some pretty sweet playing and arranging right there. 

This was just their second album, from 1973.

There always were two songs I did like — a lot — on this album: “My Old School” ... 

... again, the instrumental breaks at 2:30 and 4:45 are killer, plus the hot horn arrangments throughout, and a singalong chorus ... 

... and my other favorite is “Pearl of the Quarter”, a shuffle with beautiful lap steel guitar throughout and a melancholy melody but a chorus that just sticks in your head with a wonderful jazz chord walkdown, and of course a sweet instrumental break at 2:45.

More on Steely Dan and this album later.