Steely Dan

Dirty Work

Composed by Donald Fagen / Walter Becker

Song Review by

The odd song out in Steely Dan's career, "Dirty Work" is an uncharacteristically emotional depiction of marital infidelity, interestingly observed from the point of view of the man doing the cuckolding. With its soulful clavinet and tenor sax opening and upward-modulating chorus, "Dirty Work" is by some measure the most commercial-sounding song on Can't Buy a Thrill, sounding rather like the group's ABC Records labelmates Three Dog Night covering one of Todd Rundgren's Philly soul ballads. Because it was original lead singer David Palmer's showcase, "Dirty Work" was retired from Steely Dan's repertoire after Palmer left the band in 1973, and was largely forgotten by most due to its dissimilarity to the sardonic jazz-rock that came later. The song did enjoy a revival in 2001 due to its use in a powerful scene in the third-season premiere of The Sopranos.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Can't Buy a Thrill 1972 MCA / Universal 3:09
Countdown to Ecstasy 1973 MCA
No Image 1982 MCA
Citizen Steely Dan 1993 Geffen / MCA 3:09
Remastered: The Best of Steely Dan - Then and Now 1993 Universal Distribution / MCA 3:08
Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980 2000 MCA 3:09
Can't Buy a Thrill/Pretzel Logic/The Royal Scam 2003 Universal Distribution 3:08
The Definitive Collection 2006 Universal / Universal Music 3:08
The Very Best of Steely Dan 2009 Universal Distribution 3:09
Collected 2009 Universal / Universal Distribution 3:05
Perfection in Performance 2010 Intergroove
American Hustle [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2013
Original Soundtrack
Legacy / Sony Music 3:10
Doing It in California: The 1974 Broadcasts 2015 Sutra 3:58
Can't Buy a Thrill/Gaucho MCA / Universal Music
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