Geffen's 2006 release The Definitive Collection is a mere 16 tracks long, which is a bit short for covering Steely Dan's career. They may not have landed many singles within the Billboard charts -- only 15 between their 1973 debut, Can't Buy a Thrill, and their 2000 comeback, Two Against Nature -- but they had plenty of standards on album rock radio, giving the impression that they had more charting hits than they actually did. This can make compiling a Dan hits collection a little difficult, since concentrating on either the chart singles or the radio staples will wind up giving a misleading impression. The Definitive Collection attempts to negotiate the two: it has the biggest singles -- "Do It Again," "Reeling in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "Deacon Blues," "Peg," "Hey Nighteen" -- and it has such radio favorites as "Bodhisattva," "My Old School," "FM," and "Babylon Sisters." This disc does take into account their new-millennium comeback, pulling "Cousin Dupree" from Two Against Nature and "Things I Miss the Most" from 2003's Everything Must Go, which leaves less space for such Steely Dan standards as "Josie," "Time Out of Mind," "Show Biz Kids," "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," and "Aja." While those songs are missed, listeners wanting a more exhaustive compilation always have the option of purchasing 2000's excellent double-disc set Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980 instead. For those who just want a sampler of many, but not all, of Steely Dan's biggest and best songs, this will suit them fine.
The Definitive Collection Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine