In a 1980 Rolling Stone feature on Steely Dan, journalist Robert Palmer reported a scene in which Donald Fagen, producer Gary Katz, and engineer Roger Nichols (Fagen's musical partner, Walter Becker, sat out much of the recording and mixing of Gaucho, the band's final album, having been hit by a car while walking in the spring of 1980) spent four painstaking hours trying to perfect less than a minute of music, the lengthy fadeout of the reggae-tinged opening track, "Babylon Sisters." One appreciates the trio's attention to detail -- Becker, Fagen, Katz, and Nichols had made some of the best-sounding records of the '70s -- but by 1980, it seemed like the brain trust's reliance on "perfect sound forever" had taken the place of real musical inspiration. Neither Becker nor Fagen plays a single instrument on "Babylon Sisters," the tune left in the hands of session heavyweights held down by drummer Bernard Purdie. The performance is technically stunning, but there's no real swing to the electric piano-led, woodwinds-heavy groove, and little soul in Patti Austin and Valerie Simpson's dramatic vocals on the chorus. "Babylon Sisters" is a tremendous piece of music, but it's more "admirable" than actually fun.