Steely Dan and others 

Steely Dan and others

I've been looking for Steely Dan, Greatest Hits from 1978, for years at a cheap price, and finally found it for 6 bucks at the supermarket. I felt guilty about buying another compilation--I've owned A Decade of Steely Dan for a long time. But I remembered the 1978 compilation as having better production values, and some good tunes that I missed. I once owned the 1978 disc as an LP.

Sure enough, Greatest Hits is a great album. The overall sound is great, and every tune (except maybe East St. Louis Toodle-Oo) is a gem. The one tune that A Decade adds (for me) is "Deacon Blues." [Update: oops! I almost forgot "FM"). So maybe I'll keep it. "Babylon Sisters" and "Hey Nineteen" I could live without. Conversely, Greatest Hits has "Show Biz Kids," "Pretzel Logic" (which I really missed), "Any Major Dude," "Here at the Western World" (new with this compilation), "Doctor Wu" (ahhhhh), "Haitian Divorce," "The Fez," and "Josie." Of course, there's something to be said for tracking down some of the original albums....

This is all old-technology stuff, but the 1978 album had virtually no liner notes--you can't tell who's playing what solo. "A Decade" is a bit better for that. Now the Net has a nice set-up; pick a tune on a compilation album, and you are taken back to the album where the tune first appeared--lyrics, players, and solos. If a tune is added for the first time, then the lyrics, etc. are with the compilation.

Other albums I used to own as LPs, and still dream about: Aretha Franklin, "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky)"; Quincy Jones, "You've Got it Bad Girl"; Don Ellis, "Connection". Aretha and Quincy have put a few tunes from these albums onto compilations, but I miss the albums as "entities." Hey Now Hey had a great version of "Somewhere," and a 12-bar blues called "It Ought to Be Just Right Tonight." Quincy had a quiet side and a loud side--the loud side included "Superstition," and Dizzy Gillespie's tune "Manteca." I once used "Superstition" to test stereos in a store.

I didn't realize until I just went Googling now that Quincy Jones co-produced my favourite Aretha Franklin album. It's a bit like the time I discovered "Feels LIke Home to Me," which was on the radio constantly sung by Chantal Kreviazuk, was written by Randy Newman. Typical: one reviewer of the Aretha album says "Just Right Tonight" is the best thing on it (Amazon review in above link); another hates only that tune, out of the otherwise "great" album.

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