Album Review: Countdown to Ecstasy

By Billboard

Steely Dan
Countdown to Ecstasy
ABC ABCX 779

It’s delightful to hear an LP by an act which has had a hit single and discover how much musical ability the act has. That’s the end result of this LP: there’s lots of music, vocal and instrumental from these five players. A number of influences run through this material — from the 1950’s runs of “Bodhisattva” to the jazz-oriented electric piano runs on “Your Gold Teeth” to the full richness of controlled rock. Guitars are pitted against each other and the stereo effect is worthwhile; the grandiloquent vocal blend is catchy and the band’s propulsive drive is finger popping. The technical skill of guitarists Denny Dias and Jeff Baxter along with Donald Fagen’s keyboard work are highlights. Jim Hodder’s drumming is anti-rock and very much in a mainstream pop and jazz groove.

Best cuts: “Razor Boy,” “The Boston Rag,” “My Old School.”

Dealers: this fine group with its enriched vocals and fine instrumental playing has emerged as a powerful new group.

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