Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill

While at the used record store today I was browsing the £2 bins and there was Can’t Buy A Thrill by Steely Dan. Really? £2? Well that’s mine then.


Once again, I was listening to The Friday Rock Show and I think it must have been an end of year type of show, the memory is vague, but what remains clear is that they played Reelin’ In The Years, possibly a live version, and I had no idea who it was as I missed the talky introduction at the beginning and they didn’t say at the end, I think it was Tommy Vance so I blame him.

I did eventually discover who it was, quite some time later, but I really did love that track. “You been tellin’ me you’re a genius since you were seventeen/In all the time I’ve known you I still don’t know what you mean“, what a brutal lyric.

I bought the Greatest Hits (1972-1978), which I still have somewhere and the album opened with Reelin’ in the Years making it a bit of a touch point for me, but it isn’t really that representative of them, great though it is.

Surprisingly, this is the debut album, released in November 1972. I say surprisingly because it is so fully formed, lacking a sense of any part of it being juvenilia, as one gets with many bands, and it is all rather clever really. The album title comes from Bob Dylan’s It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, and the band name from a dildo in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Some of the top L.A. session musicians were used in the recording of the album that seems at first to be a jumble of rock, mambo muzak, Latin, swing and jazz, but somehow they make it all fit together.

Although Donald Fagen provided lead vocals for most of the songs on the album, at the time he was not particularly confident in his live performances, so David Palmer was signed up to be the live frontman and he also sang lead on a couple of the tracks on the album (Dirty Work and Brooklyn). It didn’t take long though until Fagen and Walter Becker grew dissatisfied with Palmer’s interpretation of the songs and this, coupled with the fact that the big hits from the album featured Fagen on lead vocals, led to Palmer’s release from the band in 1973, with Fagen handling lead vocals for the rest of Steely Dan’s career.

Do It Again

Reelin’ in the Years (Bill Cosby with large moustache warning)

Ahhh, that takes me back. This is a fine album and they would go on to even greater things, but this is where it all started and if you don’t have a copy, you really should think about getting one.


A1 Do It Again
A2 Dirty Work
A3 Kings
A4 Midnite Cruiser
A5 Only A Fool Would Say That

B1 Reelin’ In The Years
B2 Fire In The Hole
B3 Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)
B4 Change Of The Guard
B5 Turn That Heartbeat Over Again

Rating: 9.1