Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Steely Dan settle for ear candy on their new CD

Less Filling


Everything Must Go
Warner Bros.

Of course, the new Steely Dan album sounds great. Try downloading this sucker, the grizzled grouches mutter. We dare you. Even a deaf dolt like you, Mr. 80GB Information Thief, can discern how much textured dimensionality the conjoined soul thrushes and tasty licks that trick up "Godwhacker" lose in MP3 form. If the world is headed for a fall, as is foreseen here from "The Last Mall" to "Everything Must Go," it might as well go down in the most luscious live-tracked stereo civilization has ever achieved.

But though it's tempting to read apocalyptic premonitions into Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's suave pessimism, this is the same worldview they've purveyed since 1972's "Do It Again." The main difference is the sci-fi that came on board as of Fagen's 1993 Kamakiriad. And as with their Grammy-winning comeback, Two Against Nature, sexual contretemps dominate. Some tread old ground: "Things I Miss the Most" catalogs the ruins of a divorce ("The talk/The sex/Somebody to trust," and then immediately, "The Audi TT/The house on the Vineyard/The house on the Gulf Coast"), and "Lunch With Gina" examines another of the obsessive relationships that pervaded Two Against Nature. But the sour "Blues Beach," the "cyberqueen" fantasy "Pixeleen," the sex grid of "Green Book" and the Becker come-on "Slang of Ages" all sample dystopian futurism.

As premonitions go, Everything Must Go is well-turned but overfamiliar. So as with Aja--the duo's biggest and very nearly emptiest record--its value ultimately reduces to textured dimensionality and tasty licks. Me, I can name many saxophonists I'd rather hear 100 seconds of than Walt Weiskopf, who plays the inflated intro to the climactic title tune.

Rolling Stone, June 26, 2003