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Dead vs Steely Dan

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Posted on September 27, 2020 at 08:34:12
jedrider
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Posts: 13217
Location: No. California
Joined: December 26, 2003
Just wondering what people think of the comparison.

Is Dead purely rock?

Is Dan jazz or rock?

 

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RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 27, 2020 at 08:49:44
johntoste
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Posts: 413
Location: New England
Joined: March 20, 2004
Simply stated:

Grateful Dead are a rock/Americana band that is heavily into improvisation. They are not "purely" any one thing.

Steely Dan are a rock band that freely uses the jazz harmonic palette.

I'm a fan of both.

 

RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 27, 2020 at 17:06:25
LtMandella
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Posts: 851
Location: CA
Joined: May 27, 2019
I don't really think of Steely Dan as a rock band.

Singer/songwriters yes, but those two guys used session musicians for just about all the instrument playing- drums. lead guitar, percussions,keyboard, etc. and often backing vocals.

And the session musicians often contributed to the compositions - guitar solos and riffs, drum riffs, etc.

Pretty much just the vocals and basic melodies came from the two, although Becker sometimes contributed some guitar work also.

If art interprets our dreams, the computer executes them in the guise of programs!

 

RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 27, 2020 at 22:08:23
johntoste
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Posts: 413
Location: New England
Joined: March 20, 2004
I see them differently. They were an actual band (with some attrition) til about Aja, when the use of studio musicians predominates. They needed the versatility and ability of the studio guys in order to realize the sophistication of their writing.

Even then, Becker & Fagen wrote the charts. There's a famous story of Steve Gadd playing drums on the title song and nailing the pre-written chart in one take.

There were rhythm arrangement contributions along the way from people like Larry Carlton, but the bulk of the composition, arrangement and all lyrics were always by B&F.

 

RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 27, 2020 at 22:37:38
rivervalley817
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Posts: 2180
Joined: June 15, 2020
Becker is the sneaky tasty player back in the mix

check out Time Out Of Mind

besides Knopfler, what recent player slurs on a fretboard clean like that?

that ain't no frappin' and railin' as the old boys say

it isn't basic either ... Mel Tormé even said their songwriting was outstanding

if it's good enough for the Velvet Frog ...

on the other hand he liked Hootie & The Blowfish too so ...

regards,


 

NO comparison AFAIC....., posted on September 28, 2020 at 14:36:08
TWB
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Posts: 6462
Location: Long Beach, California
Joined: January 5, 2001
I have EVERY Steely Dan CD and not ONE Dead CD....

 

Dead play dippy "country.", posted on September 29, 2020 at 09:28:24
oldmkvi
Audiophile

Posts: 9214
Joined: April 12, 2002
Never understood their popularity.
Wasted money on one LP.
Steely Dan albums and Nightfly are sophisticated adult rock.
No comparison!

 

RE: Dead play dippy "country.", posted on September 29, 2020 at 10:02:06
mraudio
Audiophile

Posts: 209
Location: Northern Colorado
Joined: November 4, 2006
Steely Dan is my FAVORITE band of all time, so I'm a little biased. Never really got into The Dead.

I agree...no comparison.

 

RE: Dead play dippy "country.", posted on September 29, 2020 at 10:02:21
rivervalley817
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Posts: 2180
Joined: June 15, 2020
I had one Dead album ...

DEAD/LIVE [1969] and listened to one side ... Dark Star

it is not country, dippy or otherwise

the rest of their catalogue consists of campfire songs with huge production
popular with the 'sing-along' crowd ... that is their popularity IMO

regards,





 

I'm thinking of Casey Jones,, posted on September 29, 2020 at 10:46:59
oldmkvi
Audiophile

Posts: 9214
Joined: April 12, 2002
and all the Dead I've heard was like that.
Sing along crowd?
Their audience was Stoners.
I think the Dead needed simple music to play and remember because of their extreme drug use.
And this is from a pot smoker...
When I read the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, I was expecting somehow
Electric Stochausen Rock and free improv.
Not!

 

RE: I'm thinking of Casey Jones,, posted on September 29, 2020 at 11:02:48
rivervalley817
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Posts: 2180
Joined: June 15, 2020
most emphatically, they are the sing along crowd

you're hearing 'cowboy chords' around the campfire tripe with the occasional bluegrass excursion. I've put up with Deadheads forever

almost as bad as Buffet's 'Parrotheads'

they both have a truly dedicated following that are truly 'pushy' about it

just my opinion but it's a strongly held one, not that you asked

regards,


 

RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 29, 2020 at 11:08:10
Goober58
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I have albums by each.

 

RE: I'm thinking of Casey Jones,, posted on September 29, 2020 at 11:10:51
Goober58
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Joined: November 15, 2016
Sure the self-righteousness is kind of off-putting, but if we are going to be critics there's a glitzy pretentiousness about Steely Dan that rubs me the wrong way.

 

RE: I'm thinking of Casey Jones,, posted on September 29, 2020 at 11:21:55
rivervalley817
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Joined: June 15, 2020
probably because they're dildos

 

dildos?, posted on September 29, 2020 at 13:39:15
Goober58
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Joined: November 15, 2016
I must have missed something.

 

RE: dildos?, posted on September 29, 2020 at 13:52:36
rivervalley817
Audiophile

Posts: 2180
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it's from the Edgar Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch" which made mention of a "steely dan" ... a steam-powered 'adult toy'

that's where the band name came from

with regards,

 

laugh! nt, posted on September 29, 2020 at 15:04:47
Goober58
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Posts: 1478
Joined: November 15, 2016

 

RE: Dead vs Steely Dan, posted on September 29, 2020 at 15:28:31
6bq5
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Posts: 3273
Location: SF Bay
Joined: August 16, 2001
I have most recordings from both groups/bands.

They each make very different, but very unique music.

I love the obvious jazz influences present in Steely Dan - there is also a poetry in the subtle (though not always so) lyrics of the songs from Becker and Fagen (together and apart)

The Greatful Dead - I would quote an often repeated, though never attributed quote: "They are not the best at what they do, they are the only ones who do it-"

You either like (Love) the Dead or you don't -
If you did not get to see them live (and I mean at least before Jerry died, though before Brent died was better still) then the tapes and CD are all we have to share with you-

For me the musical genius of the dead is not as dense as Steely Dan, but that is not to say it is not there.

My favorites tend to be from early in their career - both the albums and the shows. Some of the albums (and songs from live sets) do channel some very interesting and jazz inspired music - but they have a very identifiable sound, and I also respect those who do not want to listen to them -

So,
Pick your poison, and play the music you love-

and roll those laughing bones.....
Happy Listening

 

I like apples more than oranges. Both are tasty but, posted on October 1, 2020 at 18:11:21
jefe
Audiophile

Posts: 1845
Location: rocky montains
Joined: December 29, 2000
different. I prefer the Dead, although more so the Pigpen era that is more blues influenced.

 

Back in my punk rock days . . ., posted on October 1, 2020 at 23:22:13
belyin
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Posts: 1009
Location: New Orleans
Joined: November 1, 2003
In college late 70's early 80's, I hated them both, but for different reasons. The Dead were huge with a large part of my fellow students (the Long Island Cocaine Cowboys I dismissively called them--I could be a snooty punk) but I thought the were boring and noodlely. "But you have to hear them while tripping," I was told. But when I took acid I preferred the Velvet Underground and the Cramps! Steely Dan I found too arch and affected; and their studio perfectionism clashed with the raw and direct aesthetic I admired.

Forty years later and as a much better listener, I find I like the Dead even less; their music holds no rhythmic, harmonic, or emotional interest for me. I consider their rhythm section inept (I greatly appreciate space in music, but without tension it is just the void,) Garcia a boring noodler, and the vocals both unlistenable and vapid. Worse, their sloppy and disengaged aesthetic has colonized "funk" music via the their Jam Band offspring (who at times have seemed determined to colonize the whole New Orleans music scene!) I am mystified that two of my biggest jazz heroes--Ornette Coleman and David Murray--played with them. Obviously they have bigger ears than I do, and they must have heard something there that I can't make.

Today I have greater appreciation for Steely Dan--for their craft and their cynical wit--but I wouldn't say I am a fan. Oddly enough, what turned me around a little bit on them was hearing Rickie Lee Jones' cover of "Showbiz Kids" with Richard Davis on bass--just a beautiful production of an interesting song.

 

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