Steely Dan

Collected

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Released to Top Ten success in the Netherlands, Collected is a triple-disc compilation of Steely Dan highlights from 1972 to 1980. It's not technically a greatest-hits collection because Steely Dan never scored many hit singles (for instance, only three of their singles ever reached the Top Ten in the U.S.), yet all of the 47 tracks compiled here are great, starting with the band's 1972 breakout hit "Do It Again." Almost all of the material on Collected dates back to the '70s, drawing from the band's first six albums -- Can't Buy a Thrill (1972), Countdown to Ecstasy (1973), Pretzel Logic (1974), Katy Lied (1975), The Royal Scam (1976), and Aja (1977) -- plus their last album for 20 years, Gaucho (1980). All of these albums are classics to some extent. Moreover, there are a few previously released non-album tracks: "Here at the Western World," originally released on Greatest Hits (1978); "FM," a 1978 single from the soundtrack of the same name; and a 1971 demo version of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies." All that's missing on Collected is material from the latter-day Steely Dan albums Two Against Nature (2000) and Everything Must Go (2003). The sequencing of Collected is notable. Each disc is sequenced chronologically, starting with "Do It Again," "Reelin' in the Years," and "Bodhisattva," respectively, and then wrapping up with Gaucho material. This can be a bit maddening when you're listening to the album digitally, as the music goes back and forth in time every 80 minutes or so, yet the sequencing is effective when you listen to the CDs individually, as each makes for an alternate best-of collection. Relative to other Steely Dan compilations, Collected is at once a bit too much and not enough. Those who want only Steely Dan's most familiar material are better off with either the single-disc A Decade of Steely Dan (1985) or the double-disc Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980 (2000). On the other hand, the quadruple-disc Citizen Steely Dan (1993) includes all of the material from Can't Buy a Thrill through Gaucho, adding an extra disc's worth of album tracks missing from Collected.

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