Two names in particular spring to mind in connection with Steely Dan: Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. The two men discovered while at college at the end of the Sixties that they shared musical tastes, although they played in different bands. They subsequently formed a songwriter duo before making their breakthrough in 1972 under the name Steely Dan (a name which came from William Burrough’s novel The Naked Lunch) with their debut album Can’t Buy A Thrill. This LP remained for over a year in the Billboard charts, and the single taken from the album, Do It Again, leapt into the Top Ten. This was just the beginning of an extraordinarily successful career which lasted until the temporary disbandment of the group in 1981 (a brand new album entitled Two Against Nature has appeared since then). Every one of their seven studio albums was crowned with a Gold or Platinum Disc.
Can’t Buy A Thrill is not as “polished” as later albums, such as Aja or Gaucho for example, but their inimitable mixture of melodic rock, shot through with soul, jazzy rhythms and ambitious instrumental solos made Fagen and Becker stand out from all the others right from the very start (just compare them with the Eagles or the Doobie Brothers!). Apart from the now “classical” songs such as Dirty Work, Midnight Cruiser, Reelin’ The Years and of course the unforgettable Do It Again, it goes without saying that all the others titles are endowed with all those qualities which make Steely Dan so unique.