Steely Dan - Aja (1977)
A magnificently sophisticated album. Perhaps Steely Dan's most sophisticated - which means it's very sophisticated...! These guys are great. Jazzy, soulful, groovy, subdued, luscious, subtle music to warm the heart and refresh the mind. Masterfully played, it's a real gem. Only 7 tracks... but this makes it absolutely perfect. Lyrically inventive and vitriolic as usual, with this superbly produced magnum opus they surely reached the pinnacle of their career. Not exactly a spontaneous, rushed project, this took months to complete, and it shows. Every sound is finely tuned, every minor detail is polished to perfection. A masterpiece, no doubt about it. The cryptic songs deal with loss, sadness and themes of loneliness - this is not an upbeat album. But it is strangely uplifting because it is so atmospheric. A superb posse of session musicians from the jazz world lend depth and musical prowess to the proceedings. All told, this is one lovely experience of an album. The best track? Possibly the luxurious, delicate funk of Peg. But it's all good, man (?).