Steely Dan

Alive in America

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When Donald Fagen and Walter Becker re-formed Steely Dan in 1994, they didn't put out a new album. They undertook a tour of sports arenas, their first tour since the days of Countdown to Ecstasy. Since Steely Dan became stars after they retired from performing, many of their dedicated fans never got a chance to see the group in concert. Given those circumstances, maybe the uniformly positive reviews of the tour were predictable. But as Alive in America proves, the shows weren't earth-shaking. Certainly they were fun -- there's no denying it's a thrill to hear these songs in a live setting, both for fans and for Becker and Fagen themselves -- but essentially they were exercises in nostalgia. Alive in America is enjoyable, but it offers no new insight into Steely Dan as performers, or Becker and Fagen as songwriters. It's a gas while it lasts, but it doesn't leave any lasting memories.

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