Steely Dan

Catalyst: The Original Recordings 1968-1971 by Walter Becker & Donald Fage

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Steely Dan's baby pictures? Sort of--these are studio demos Dan honchos Becker and Fagen made as struggling songwriters in the period before they actually conceptualized the band. Some of them--"Brooklyn," "Barrytown," "Parker's Band," "Charlie Freak," "Any World That I'm Welcome To" and "The Caves of Altamira"--later turned up on Steely Dan albums; here they're presented in bare-bones version (mostly just piano and vocals, with only adequate sound) that while interesting obviously don't have Steely Dan's trademark instrumental sheen. The unfamiliar tracks are uneven (a must to avoid: "The Mock Turtle's Song"), but even the least of them show that Becker and Fagen's writing style was fully formed even at this early stage.

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