Steely Dan entered the music biz’s big leagues with world-class élan. Like, the first minute of the first song on their first album—the slinky, unstoppable “Do It Again”—might be the greatest gambit by any rock band ever… and it doesn’t even rock. A seXXXy Latin funk hip-swiveler with a serpentine electric sitar solo by Denny Dias? How do you top that? You don’t, but Dan catalysts Donald Fagen and Walter Becker filled out Can’t Buy A Thrill‘s remaining grooves with a couple of other all-timers: the ruefully gorgeous “Dirty Work” (which the soon-to-be-canned blue-eyed soul crooner David Palmer sings the hell out of) and the fleet-footed “Reelin’ In The Years,” one of the group’s most conventional and hardest rocking tunes, with an anthemic chorus that poetically captures romantic regret. Elsewhere, immaculate specimens of jazz-pop establish the tone that would dominate the rest of Steely Dan’s wildly successful career, with elite musicians laying down virtuosic parts and solos that were polished to a blinding sheen.
Of course, few bands have had such a divisive effect on listeners as Steely Dan. Detractors diss them as the epitome of soulless, corporate rock. Devotees declare them geniuses who could slyly slip strangely arranged, melodically adventurous, and lyrically subversive songs onto commercial radio and coax phenomenal performances from mercenary session musicians. The debate rages online right up to this minute. Essentially, though, Can’t Buy A Thrill is the easiest entry point for curious listeners. If you can’t get with this one, Steely Dan likely ain’t for you. -Buckley Mayfield
Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.