Why does everyone hate Steely Dan?

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Why does everyone hate Steely Dan?

Post by DrummerMan » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:52 pm

Seriously. It seems that I keep running into threads where someone says, "you know, it sounded bad. I mean, it wasn't Steely Dan or anything, but it was close" or (and this is a direct quote from a thread) "...it'd start to sound like a Steely Dan record (no offense)...."

What am I missing? Is it that it's sterile sounding to people? I'm really curious to know what people's issues are with this band's recordings. I'm not trying to defend them. I just want to understand.

And I don't want this to be a big deal or anything. I'm not a Steely Dan fan, per se, I don't own any of their records and I don't really care about them, but I grew up hearing them around alot and I always really liked the way those records sounded. They seem very smooth to me in a pleasant way.

You know, the one drug I've never done is cocaine. Could this be part of why I just "don't get it"???

I dunno. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.
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Post by RefD » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:57 pm

actually, i really love their 'Aja' album.

seriously.
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Post by DrummerMan » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:05 pm

RefD wrote:actually, i really love their 'Aja' album.

seriously.
Well, cool, but then do you know why some (I guess not all) people hate on the sound of their recordings?

Am I imagining this? I sometimes get paranoid for things that don't concern me. (It might be all the other drugs besides coke that I've done)
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Post by RefD » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:10 pm

DrummerMan wrote:
RefD wrote:actually, i really love their 'Aja' album.

seriously.
Well, cool, but then do you know why some (I guess not all) people hate on the sound of their recordings?

Am I imagining this? I sometimes get paranoid for things that don't concern me. (It might be all the other drugs besides coke that I've done)
i'm sure it's a variety of reasons.

bad associations, hipster "me too!" herd mentality, a preference for a narrow range of music styles that Steely Dan falls outside of...all sorts of things.

i'm sure there's also some people who have honestly given them a real try and just don't enjoy their recordings.
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Post by stoneman » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:16 pm

i've seen some of those psot while lurking. personally, i love steely dan records. i guess its just one of the "problems" with music is that we're not all going to agree what sounds good.

seeing them live is great too...3x for me ...and though they are ridiculously tight and songs are smartly arranged... during the third show i felt their slickness became boring. i have most of their records but i will pass next time they are in town.

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Post by Jay Reynolds » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:25 pm

Maybe its a version of the "Phish Syndrome":
Person 1: Man, I don't like Phish.
Person 2: What? But they're such good musicians!
Person 1: I like them less now that you said that.

Repeat X 1,000
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Post by JGriffin » Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:35 pm

It'll ultimately be more enlightening to hear the folks who actually DO hate Steely Dan weigh in. But one of the criticisms I've heard is "they represent the worst of '70s corporate rock, all LA polish" and such. Which I find to be uninformed bollocks myself.

But I'm not gonna dictate anyone's taste. I happen to like Steely Dan is all.
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Post by blackdiscoball » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:04 pm

I think its that their albums are polished and perfected to the nth degree. People fell there is no "life" to it. Which is funny since I just watched a classic albums video on the making of aja and one of the musicians on it talked about how they would practice the songs till they were perfect, then keep going past that till they felt natural... pretty interesting idea. Thats my $.02.
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Post by caffiend2049 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:08 pm

hmm....I come down on the "wrong" side of this as well seeing as I think think the Dan is awesome.
But they do represent a very big dividing line in taste.
I'm inclined to write off the folks who hate Steely Dan as jealous...but I get the feeling that it has to do with the near soul-less way they tackle soul.

As my wife says: "it just sounds like really well crafted elevator music."

It's funny because there are many MANY bands that I don't care for due to the exact same reasons that a lot of people I know don't like SD - and for some reason I still enjoy SD on a number of levels.

Maybe it's a freak timing thing? As I was born in '73, I grew up with a lot of SD tunes in the background...hell, I didn't even realize a lot of the classic rock songs I liked were by them until I was a teenager.
I've always found their arrangements to be impeccable, the sounds to be top notch and the guitar work is simply cool.
I think that "Two Against Nature" is possibly the best comeback album ever.

yet...I don't like Muse or Radiohead or Santana....so I know how it feels to be on the other side - with your friend just shaking his head incredulously muttering "you just don't get it."
bigger and better....sooner than later

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Post by GooberNumber9 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:17 pm

I hate Steely Dan with a burning passion, but I'm afraid my reason why is not going to please you. I hate Steely Dan for the same reason I hate mayonnaise: just cause.

I mean really, when you're talking about taste, what other real, honest reason is there? People don't actually hate or love anything for any kind of logical reasons. Logical reasons aren't taste, and taste is not logical. There is no accounting for taste, in every sense of the word "accounting".

Just to be clear, I hate their music, not the engineering or overall sound or anything like that. I don't like the engineering for "Bleed American" by Jimmy Eat World, but I love the music, so I listen to it a lot.

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Post by JGriffin » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:56 pm

GooberNumber9 wrote:I hate Steely Dan with a burning passion, but I'm afraid my reason why is not going to please you. I hate Steely Dan for the same reason I hate mayonnaise: just cause.

I mean really, when you're talking about taste, what other real, honest reason is there? People don't actually hate or love anything for any kind of logical reasons. Logical reasons aren't taste, and taste is not logical. There is no accounting for taste, in every sense of the word "accounting".

Just to be clear, I hate their music, not the engineering or overall sound or anything like that. I don't like the engineering for "Bleed American" by Jimmy Eat World, but I love the music, so I listen to it a lot.

But what's puzzling here is the "hate with a burning passion" thing. It's so strange that this band arouses so much vitriol in people. It's odd that this particular band is SO polarizing. Me, for instance, I just don't bother to even think about Jimmy Eat World. I don't expend the energy to hate them with a burning passion.

And that's not to pick on your taste in music, it just happened to be an excellent, and true, example that presented itself. If you'd said Metallica or Joy Division I'd have said the same thing.

caffiend2049 wrote:As my wife says: "it just sounds like really well crafted elevator music."

It's funny because there are many MANY bands that I don't care for due to the exact same reasons that a lot of people I know don't like SD - and for some reason I still enjoy SD on a number of levels.
One person's "waaay too slick" is another person's "great musicians playing really well." I've heard similar complaints about a lot of jazz music. For me what makes Steely Dan different from many of those other bands are the fantastic, nasty, acidic lyrics. But I'm a bit of a muso as well so I do get off on some of the great playing.
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Post by DrummerMan » Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:02 pm

GooberNumber9 wrote:I hate Steely Dan with a burning passion, but I'm afraid my reason why is not going to please you. I hate Steely Dan for the same reason I hate mayonnaise: just cause.

I mean really, when you're talking about taste, what other real, honest reason is there? People don't actually hate or love anything for any kind of logical reasons. Logical reasons aren't taste, and taste is not logical. There is no accounting for taste, in every sense of the word "accounting".

Just to be clear, I hate their music, not the engineering or overall sound or anything like that. I don't like the engineering for "Bleed American" by Jimmy Eat World, but I love the music, so I listen to it a lot.
This I'm fine with. There's plenty of stuff that I just don't like, just 'cause. And yes, sometimes the burning passion comes into play, maybe even because everybody else expects that you should like it.

There just seems to be some sort of almost inside joke about the recording quality that gets passed around places, so I just thought I'd see if there was some agreed upon reasons behind that, but what I'm getting is that the reasons are varied.

That, and that a lot more people here seem to like them than I would've initially guessed...
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Post by percussion boy » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:38 am

DrummerMan wrote:There just seems to be some sort of almost inside joke about the recording quality that gets passed around places
That dry, close-miked, zero-tolerance-for-ambience Dan sound strikes some listeners as "sterile" and "unnatural" -- although of course the tricks engineers use to get a "live"-sounding record are often highly sterile and unnatural.

-----
The Dan are also the ultimate AntiPunk band -- no screaming, no distortion, no three chord progressions. If you believe that rock has everything to do with adolescent bourgeois rage, and nothing to do with learning to play an instrument well, then Steely Dan will really pull your tail. You can't just learn their shit in 15 minutes, turn up the amp, and pretend you're a musician.

And some folks just hate Fagen's voice. Matter of taste.

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Post by E-money » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:58 am

I'm on the wrong side of this as well, Steely Dan are my second favorite band after the Beatles.

I think most of the people that have disdain for them are fans of genres like punk or hip-hop, two forms of music that I have very little patience for.
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Post by Scodiddly » Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:26 am

I think it has to do with the genre of music, not the music itself. Steely Dan is probably the last of that sort of cliche 70's smooth music that's played anymore, and while they did really good songs, good productions, etc., that genre is rather tainted by all the crappy easy-listening stuff that sounds similar.

So maybe you're a punk musician, and you hear some Steely Dan at a soundcheck or out of a sound guy's car stereo. While you might not have even heard that band before, it sort of makes you flash back some hokey stuff your mom used to play on the 8-track every day. Ewww!!!

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