Steely Dan – Gaucho

I am of two minds about Gaucho by Steely Dan. In one mind, I think the melodies are entertaining and high quality, combining Jazz, Funk, Rock and R&B. The instruments, drums, and lyrics are very tight, a result of the perfection demanded by the band. This forced the production of the album to take two years. In the other mind, I dislike the manner of the vocals. The vocalists, including a previous nemesis Michael McDonald in a backup role, do things that annoy me. Imagine Yogi Bear trying to sing, and that is what I hear in my head when I listen to this album. Unnecessary pitch bending and weird transitions from a nasal- to diaphragm-driven voice.

I am a few months into this project, and I am observing that nearly all of the music I've liked I had heard previously. I think that this is natural for a few reasons. First, I seek out music I like over music I dislike, meaning that the albums I've listened to that I disliked never entered my mind because they are in a genre I generally dislike. Of course, I couldn't have truly known I disliked them until I listened to them, but there is some personal selective effects going on. Second, and this is definitely inflating the value of my own opinions (so throw some salt over your shoulder), but it seems that music I dislike has proven itself over time to be less popular and inferior to music I do like. When was the last time you heard a Yoko Ono song on the radio? Or a Barbra Streisand song from Guilty? However, Bruce Springsteen is still making records and selling out arenas, and AC/DC is still selling records and getting airtime.

If you can get over the vocal style of this album, or indeed if you even like it, I would recommend this album for its melodies. However, that is a very qualified recommendation. Listen at your own risk.