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2020 Album Draft- Round 14- Pick 7 Box Sets- MSJADELI selects- Steely Dan- Citizen Steely Dan 1972-1980.

I’m not an expert or even close to one in regards to Steely Dan; more of a tireless appreciator of their audio body of work that has pleased, thrilled, and inspired. Back in the day I’m trying to remember a time when Steely Dan didn’t having something on the air. Masterful musicians playing an amalgam of instruments, the throaty, soulful ecstasy of the vocals, and the absorbing nature of the lyrics has kept me ensnared from the first listen. I love the natural sophistication of their creations, and the jazzy-ness of it elevates it into the celestial realm.

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Up until I started reading Hans’ blog, the only Steely Dan I owned was Aja. Why did I need to own more when they were plentiful on the radio? Times have changed. I don’t listen to commercial radio anymore – unless it’s NPR – so when Hans posted on the box set, Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980, it was a cue to acquire it. Seeing the gems amassed is like when the hobbit stumbled into The Lonely Mountain and saw all of the dwarf treasure Smaug had been guarding.

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Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980 is a four-CD box set compilation album released in 1993. It’s a collection of all of Steely Dan’s albums (up to 1980) in chronological order, and also contains a non-album single, a non-album B-side, a rare compilation track recorded during the sessions for The Royal Scam but released only on the 1978 Greatest Hits, and a previously unreleased demo of “Everyone’s Gone to the Movies.” It is not a complete compilation of every track released by Steely Dan up to 1993.

The compilation was the first release of the remastered versions of Steely Dan’s albums until Glenn Meadows remastered studio albums in 1998, from the digital masters archived by Donald Fagen, Gary Katz and Roger Nichols in 1982. The digital tapes were prepared because the original analog tapes were in very poor shape.

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Altogether on the 4 discs are 66 songs offering almost 5 hours of music. All tracks are written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, except one song written by Duke Ellington/Buber Miley and two songs co-written by Becker/Fagan, one with Keith Jarrett and one with Paul Griffin. Not too shabby!

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Choosing favorites out the bunch wasn’t easy. The first one, Midnight Cruiser, is sung by David Palmer, before Fagan took over lead vocals. I wrote about this song awhile back, at

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#SLS — Midnite Cruiser by Steely Dan

They are sooo good on the next one:

The bridge on the next one has me sighing in aural ecstasy.

I couldn’t go without sharing what is probably my favorite Steely Dan song. It’s perfect.

And finally, the jazzy goodness of Gaucho.

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  1. A great collection – if you didn’t have the Steely Dan albums- which at the time it came out I didn’t. My strongest memory of this is the first time i listened to it- my brother and I were in Dallas and on the way home the first thing we listened to was this box set- we listened to the box set twice through- I think that got us to Memphis.

    • Very cool that you have such a good memory of this set, Hans. We should measure travel distances in music rather than miles. It would make things so much more interesting 🙂

  2. That would be a good set! similar to you (at one time) I’ve only ever owned Aja among their studio albums plus a few singles and a couple of different ‘greatest hits’ albums, but I wouldn’t mind getting more – rare is the Steely Dan track I’ve encountered that isn’t pretty excellent.
    Another great write-up to finish up the event, Lisa!

    • Yes, their craftsmanship and willingness to pull in whatever they need to elevate their creations is something I admire. A hallmark of the greats. Thank you, Dave. It’s been such a fun ride!

  3. That is a huge set…when I think of them I think of jazzy, smooth, and precise. I hardly say a song is perfect but many of them are just that…also their songs still sound fresh today…it’s like the world had to catch up to them and their production. Great pick Lisa!

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  5. Even though I have all those early albums I think I would snap this up anyways. They are such a cool band with so much great music. What a great pick up. This is everything you needed to be a SD junkie. I would tale this to my island in a heartbeat.

    • Wow, Kerfe, one of the bennies of living in a big city is that you can see all of the best bands many times. You’ve taught your daughter what good music is, and I’m guessing she’s pointed out some good newer bands to you also.

    • They used to come to the Beacon Theater yearly. My older daughter is not that into music. My younger one likes everything, but has not yet turned me into a rabid heavy metal fan like she is…on the other hand, all the classical music I have seen live has been because of her.

  6. I’m totally unfamiliar with Steely Dan’s music other than the radio hits. But I’ve noticed that they are often mentioned and highly respected by other accomplished musicians. I enjoyed your written description of the set, but I’m making this comment before I’ve listened to your sample tracks, so I’m now I’m scrolling back up to start listening…

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