Steely Dan’s acclaimed debut album, Can’t Buy A Thrill is set to be reissued on vinyl through Geffen/UMe on November 4. The album has been remastered from the original tapes and will be available on 180-gram black vinyl.
Led by the songwriting and virtuoso musical duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan released an extraordinary run of seven albums on ABC Records and MCA Records from 1972 through 1980. Filled with topline musicianship, clever and subversive wordplay, ironic humor, genius arrangements, and pop hits that outshone the Top 40 of its day, their records, which were as sophisticated and cerebral as they were inscrutable, were stylistically diverse, melding their love of jazz with rock, blues, and impeccable pop songcraft.
Steely Dan’s classic ABC and MCA Records catalog is now set to return to vinyl with an extensive yearlong reissue program of the band’s first seven records, which is being personally overseen by founding member Donald Fagen. The LPs, most of which haven’t been widely available since their original release, will be available on 33 1/3 RPM 180-gram black vinyl via Geffen/UMe, and as a limited-edition premium 45 RPM version on Ultra High-Quality Vinyl (UHQR) from Analogue Productions, the audiophile in-house reissue label of Acoustic Sounds. Analogue Productions will also release this series of titles on Super Audio CD (SACD).
The series will kick off on November 4 with the album that started it all, the band’s legendary 1972 debut LP, Can’t Buy A Thrill, now in its 50th anniversary year, featuring the band’s breakthrough hits, “Do It Again,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” and the recently viral “Dirty Work,” with original lead vocalist David Palmer.
Additional albums will roll out periodically throughout 2022 and 2023 and will include the band’s sprawling 1973 sophomore LP, Countdown to Ecstasy, with such standouts as “Bodhisattva,” “Show Biz Kids” and “My Old School,” sung by Donald Fagen who took over as lead vocalist; 1974’s jazzy Pretzel Logic, their first Top 10 album with the massive hit, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number;” 1975’s swing-pop perfection Katy Lied, with highlights “Black Friday,” “Bad Sneakers” and “Doctor Wu,” and the addition of Michael McDonald on vocals; 1976’s guitar-driven The Royal Scam, featuring “Kid Charlemagne” and “The Fez;” 1977’s platinum-selling jazz-rock masterwork Aja, which includes the three hit singles – “Deacon Blues,” Peg” and “Josie” – and the elegant title cut; and their final album for MCA, and last for 20 years, 1980’s brilliant Gaucho, with “Hey Nineteen,” and “Time Out Of Mind,” featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar.
All albums are being meticulously remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tapes except for Aja, which will be mastered from an analog, non-EQ’d, tape copy, and Gaucho, which will be sourced from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. (There’s no evidence the original tapes containing the flat mixes of Aja and Gaucho were delivered to the record label and it’s presumed the tapes no longer exist.) Lacquers for UMe’s standard 33 1/3 RPM 180-gram version will be cut by Alex Abrash at his renowned AA Mastering studio from high-resolution digital files of Grundman’s new masters and pressed at Precision. They will be housed in reproductions of the original artwork.
The 45 RPM UHQR version will be pressed at Analogue Productions’ Quality Record Pressings on 200-gram Clarity Vinyl, packaged in a deluxe box, and will include a booklet detailing the entire process of making a UHQR along with a certificate of inspection. Each UHQR is pressed, using hand-selected vinyl, with attention paid to every single detail of every single record. All of the innovations introduced by QRP that have been generating such incredible critical acclaim are applied to each UHQR. The 200-gram records feature the same flat profile that helped to make the original UHQR so desirable.
The Steely Dan vinyl reissue program follows last year’s release of Steely Dan’s Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live! and a live version of Donald Fagen’s acclaimed solo album, The Nightfly Live, which were both released via UMe on 180-gram vinyl, CD, and digital. The first live Steely Dan album in more than 25 years, Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live! was recorded across tour dates at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, The Met Philadelphia, and more, and showcases selections from Steely Dan’s extraordinary catalog of slinky grooves, sleek subversive lyrics, and infectious hits. Fagen’s The Nightfly Live was performed live by The Steely Dan Band.